Reptile Conservation Centre


Ideally situated in an area with a high diversity of reptiles, this project’s main objective is the conservation of snakes and other reptiles, as well as amphibians and arachnids; the creatures that usually inflict fear into humans, more often due to myths rather than sound factual knowledge. 

 

This project is an absolute ‘must-do’ for volunteers who seek an introduction into the world of  reptiles and those who want to deepen their knowledge and experience. With ample opportunity to work hands on with a variety of species, both harmless and venomous, this project comes highly recommended, and will most definitely leave you with a whole new level of  appreciation for these creatures.

 

As with most fears, the lack of understanding and knowledge are the biggest prejudices reptiles come up against. There is a saying ‘the only good snake is a dead snake’ is still stubbornly instilled in many people’s beliefs and many snakes are persecuted because of it. 

 

The main objective of this Centre, that was established over 30 years ago, is conservation of reptiles and other species through education, research and training. A large part of the Centre serves as a park where local visitors and tourists can view a variety of both indigenous and exotic reptiles while getting properly educated on the important role reptiles play in nature as well as around our house and in our daily lives. 

 

The Centre offers courses and training for nature guides and any other persons interested in properly handling snakes and how to deal with potentially risky encounters. Behind the scenes, the Centre offers ‘call outs’ to remove snakes from people’s homes to avoid snakes being killed. They contribute to ongoing research and data collection, offer photographic opportunities and continue to contribute to many well-known movies and documentaries. 

As a volunteer you will be involved in most activities at the Centre during your placement with them. This will give you some insight with regards to the different challenges that reptile conservationists face and how facilities like the Reptile Conservation Centre are important  in bridging the gap between fear and appreciation.

 

A placement with them will be a massively rewarding experience, allowing for you to gain more experience into the world of reptiles, amphibians and arachnids, while helping the Centre to achieve its goals. 


At the project you can expect to take part in the following activities. However, please note that some of the activities depend on weather conditions and time of year:

  • Cleaning of snake- and other reptile cages, inside and outIdentifying species
  • Participation in Reptile Orientation Course
  • Preparation and administration of food
  • 'Safe Handling' of dangerous and venomous snakes
  • Learning about venom and the symptoms and treatment of snake bites
  • Snake and other Reptile Callouts: rescue, rehabilitation, and release
  • Snake Necropsy
  • Participation in veterinary procedures as necessary
  • Work in the lab, monitor reptile eggs, cleaning, etc.
  • Help with research projects (Golden Baboon Spider and other projects)
  • Assist with demonstrations to the public
  • Assist with maintenance work in the park or the building of new enclosures
  • Field Research
  • Volunteers are taken on a mini expedition into one of the many valleys of the great Drakensberg Mountains where you will be expected to observe and survey reptile activity


Daily programme:

 

Volunteers will be expected to work every day from 8am to 5pm, however leisure time and opportunities to do some extra, optional excursions can be discussed with the curators at the Centre. Lunch is an hour long and is usually taken between 12:00 and 13:00. Volunteers enjoy a very active participation in the daily events at the park, and although there is a daily routine of activities and duties at the Centre, reptiles and wildlife in general tend to have their own agenda and therefore plans might change in an instant to accommodate a ‘call out’ for example. 

 

Every step of the way, no matter what is happening, one of the curators will be with you talking you through the events, allowing you to participate at your level of experience while providing you with 

valuable knowledge. 

 

Seasons:

 

In this part of the world, snakes, reptiles, arachnids, insects and insect relatives are most active during the warm months of the year, being from end of August to end of April and peaking between October and March. The rainy season is usually from the end of November until the end of March.

 

Besides the increased reptile and insect activity, the bush comes alive after the rains, washing away the dust, allowing fresh greens to grow, migratory birds return, birds build nests and baby animals are born.  


Accommodation:

 

All volunteers are housed in the Volunteers House behind the Reptile Centre. It is a four-bedded wooden bungalow with a fully equipped kitchen, bathroom (with hot and cold running water, a shower and bath) and a lounge area with Satellite TV and DVD player. Electricity is available at the volunteer house and at the Centre. WIFI is available in the house 24/7 at a nominal fee and phone signal in the area is good. A cleaning lady does a cleanup twice a week. All bedding provided, but bring your own towels with you.

  

Ingredients are provided for you to cook your own meals and special diets will be taken into consideration.



Price includes: 

  • Accommodation
  • 3 Meals a day (self-catering, ingredients provided)
  • Transfers between the local airport/ shuttle stop and the project
  • The programme at the Centre
  • Hands on experience and educational programme
  • All project related field trips
  • Opportunity to attend courses and lessons done at the Centre
  • Volunteer manual
  • Two "I Survived the Reptile Centre" T Shirts
  • A donation towards equipment and upgrading of facilities to support the Centre’s objective

Not included: 

  • International and domestic flights / transport (we're happy to assist you)
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Visa costs if your stay in South Africa is going to exceed 90 days (we're happy to offer advice and assistance)
  • Food and drinks purchased in the restaurant at the Centre
  • Laundry, to do yourself or at the laundromat in town
  • Personal expenses such as toiletries, extra optional excursions, WIFI, etc.


Requirements:

  • Minimum age is 18 years, no upper age restriction
  • Fair to excellent knowledge of the English language is recommended
  • Fair to excellent level of physical fitness
  • No specific experience or knowledge is needed to join the project, just a passion for the African bush and in particular reptiles, amphibians and arachnids, and an open mind to explore different cultures and values
  • Conservation is a priority with all that the Centre does  and they expect the same outlook towards these animals from a volunteer

 

Group size: 1-8 Volunteers

 

Duration: 

If joining the Centre as an introduction to the world of reptiles, amphibians and arachnids a minimum stay of 1 week is possible, however, we recommend a minimum duration of 2 weeks, as the first week usually serves to get settled in. A duration of 4 or more weeks is recommended for those who really want to be involved with, and exposed to as many activities and opportunities as possible. The longer you spend at the Centre, the more chance of (unexpected) opportunities coming along.

 

Please don’t hesitate to contact us should you have any further questions regarding this project.