No two days are the same when volunteering at Shamwari Game Reserve. From digging trenches to planting in watering holes, my three months there covered so many different areas of conservation. Tasks included; removing alien plant species (chopping down pines and other trees that are affecting the soil and taking the water from indigenous plants), removing wire fencing (from old farming territories) and building organic fences and picnic tables for guests to use.We built dams (using the wood from the trees we cut down) to stop rain erosion on the hills, we helped the vet to capture wild dogs and oryx, we released eland and kudu being brought into the reserve by lorry and we fed the orphaned animals at the breeding centre.
From game counts to autopsies, from hyena monitoring to feeding the Born Free big cats; working at the reserve was a blend of excitement and hard work that has created a treasure trove of memories!
One of my most exciting days on the reserve was capturing a lioness for medical treatment – which involved luring her cubs away from her so we could dart her. Easier said than done. Our tree planting and fence building would also be broken up with exciting tasks such as monitoring controlled bush fires and visits from people educating us on African culture and some of the reptiles and snakes found in the area.
Some of the other activities that my time spent volunteering involved included:
- Camping on the beach
- Camping in the bush
- Night drives
- Bush walk (navigating several kilometres on our own with a GPS)
- Fishing (the over populated fish which were having a negative effect on the river’s eco-system)
- Viewing the cave paintings
- Visiting the Julie Ward Born Free Sanctuary
If there is anyone out there considering volunteering at Shamwari, and STILL wondering what this experience may involve, let me give you a taste of some of the things you may experience. I have put together this video to sum up my time volunteering and to show some of the additional experiences that can be had in this area of the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Enjoy.
Some of my videos from my time at Shamwari Game Reserve: