Volunteering in South Africa – Exciting Wildlife

Posted by: Katie

This past February I was part of The Big 5 Wildlife Reserve in the Greater Kruger Area project in Limpopo, South Africa. While I was there, the whole area was suffering from a terrible drought, with it nearing the end of the wet season with almost no rain at all. As can be imagined, the wildlife suffered horribly from these conditions and it was very sad to see it firsthand. I was very lucky to see my favorite animal, the hippo, within the first week of the project.

That night we circled back for our night drive and he was gone, though we weren’t sure if he was just out feeding as they do during the night. But the next day he didn’t return, and we never saw him again. He must have moved on to find more water, and hopefully his journey was a successful one. We also saw many impala, steenbok, buffalo, zebra, and other animals.

We were lucky enough to see two leopards, one of which was from a distance relaxing in a tree, but the other we lucked into seeing prowling around and hunting. The security guard also spotted a leopard at night right outside of one of the rondavels that two volunteers were staying in, but we never saw her for ourselves.

We did however come across a black mamba in the kitchen! One of the volunteers was going to put something in the recycling and the black mamba reared itself up in defense only a couple of meters away from her. Luckily we had already had our training on how to deal with these types of situations, and she calmly backed away from the snake and sought out a guide.

A very exciting place, and all around a great experience! I’ll definitely come back to the area in a few years to see what it’s like when it’s healthier.