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I saw rhinos and cave paintings and had the chance to visit a village, where I met an 82-year-old chief that told me the tale of fighting a leopard that was eating his livestock. His stories were incredible and followed shortly by a dance performance by the children of the village. I could not write about this day with enough detail to do it justice, but believe me when I say it was one of the most memorable days of my life!
Our day started at 7am with making our own breakfast. We would meet with all the staff at 8 for the day’s work which would continue until 4 or 5. We were assigned different jobs with different staff and animals every day. We had baby monkeys which were so cute, but bratty; we took turns bottle feeding and playing with them as well as a little dyker and springbok.
Our organized activities were a great way to relax and have fun with everyone in the program but my favorite memories were at the school, playing with the kids at the end of each day, or handing out ice cream after lunch...I cannot wait to not only return for more volunteering in Thailand, but to explore other opportunities provided by GoEco.
Working in Thailand was one of the best experiences of my life. The children were so incredibly sweet and eager to learn. The younger children barely knew any English so we had to find ways to communicate with them through pictures and hand motions. After this experience, I really think anyone can learn to be a teacher!
In the afternoon the volunteers would take the baboons down to the river and watch them play and socialize for about an hour. This also gave us time to socialize and become very close friends and family. The baboons would grab my legs and hands when they wanted me to carry them as we walked down to the river. This was my favorite part of the day.
One of my favorite aspects of my project was “baby time.” On this day, one group would be in charge of taking care of the baby monkeys. We fed them bottles, spent time in their enclosures, took the baboons to the river, prepared their night boxes, and much more. This allowed us to develop a connection with the baby monkeys, which was so unique.
While I was there, we were working on a new space for Roger the caracal. We also assisted on daily tours of the facility. In between working, there was plenty of free time to spend quality time with the animals of our choice, including cheetahs, caracals, lions, servals, monkeys, and more.
I’ve traveled to farms to work with livestock, injecting, de-horning, pregnancy testing and artificially inseminating. I spent a lot of time in the townships, getting to know the locals – dogs and children! It was refreshing to be in community that valued love and kindness over materialistic items. We dipped the dogs (and many puppies!) for fleas, ticks and mange, de-wormed, vaccinated, and injected antibiotics to treat illnesses and injuries.
Hard work pays off, and this doesn’t go unnoticed by the amazing crew. I managed to go onto an exclusive boat trip which had less clients on board, giving me more opportunities to capture some great footage of the sharks who displayed incredible activity, breaching around six times in the space of two hours.
Volunteering with GoEco on the Great White Shark Conservation Program has been a most rewarding experience! Being able to go out on the ocean almost every day, seeing Great Whites 20cms from your face, and helping manage a commercial shark cage diving vessel is possibly the most exciting thing I have ever done!
- Wildlife and Animal Conservation
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