Volunteering in South Africa – Experiential Learning

Posted by: Paula

Everyday during the first week of the Diverse Wildlife Sanctuaries project in South Africa, we went to different sanctuaries and participated in tours in the mornings and worked in the afternoons until 3:30pm. Tours ranged from game drives around the cheetah sanctuary to hand feeding and walking elephants in the elephant/monkey sanctuary.

Every week differed from the last as we alternated sanctuaries and adopted new projects. The sanctuaries we visited weekly were the elephant/monkey sanctuary and the cheetah and wild dog. Other projects we worked on included: looking for snares on the mountain, working at a game lodge, volunteering at a dog/cat shelter, visiting kids in an impoverished neighborhood and working at an owl sanctuary.

On the weekends the volunteers would decide what activities they wished to participate in, although every 2 weeks or so a 3-day safari option would be made available by the administrators of the program. The area around our home base of Hartbeespoort was absolutely beautiful. It’s full of safaris, wildlife roaming free, and a beautiful lake within walking distance.

Overall the experience was great, working in the sanctuaries gives you an idea of how hard it is to maintain the infrastructure necessary for these animals. Most of the work consisted of clearing land from alien plants, digging, fixing fences and other maintenance around the sanctuaries. As for hands on experience, feeding the monkeys, taking care of the cats/dogs at the shelter and some of the tours provide you with animal interaction.