MOHOLOHOLO WILDLIFE REHAB PROGRAMME (2019)
My name is Rik van der Wal. In May 2019 I volunteered at the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehab Programme for 3 weeks. My experience at Moholoholo has been fantastic. The natural surroundings and the bush are amazing, and I have made a lot of new friends too.
Working with the animals takes quite a bit of energy and effort, but the reward of working with wildlife, frequently one on one, and seeing them relaxed and happy is immensely rewarding. For me, it was the first time travelling on my own, and Linda (owner of Chameleon Travel Africa red.) has assisted me very well. She took great care ensuring that my trip was well organised.
Rik van der Wal
WILDLIFE MONITORING PROJECT (2019)
Very helpful when booking a volunteer project in South Africa. The website offers clear and valuable information, comprehensive pre-departure information, and Linda is happy to answer any additional questions you may have.
For me it was the first time travelling by myself to a faraway country. Linda from CTA and the Moholoholo staff have really helped me to feel at home in South Africa! I have done and seen so much at Moholoholo.
At the centre, I had the opportunity to raise a Scrub Hare. This hare was brought in, because some people were trying to sell it as a pet on the side of the road. The first weeks of rehabilitation are always the hardest, but the hare got through well; he is beautiful, big and healthy and he is released in the reserve!
Moholoholo lies at the foot of Drakensberg and the view is magnificent. Every day the mountains look different!
It was an amazing 6 weeks and the project is definitely worth another visit!
At first all I knew was that I wanted to volunteer, but where, what? Via a message on Facebook somebody introduced me to Linda and CTA (Chameleon Travel Africa). We discussed different projects and felt the Wildlife Monitoring Project would suit me. Linda was very helpful and answered all my questions.
The project itself was great, it was an amazing experience. They pick you up from the airport and take you to the project (while doing some shopping on the way). The first morning you get an introduction, watch a movie about conservation and get all the information you need for your stay. Every day at 6am we would go to the park and come back around 12am, then lunch and a break in a hammock in the sun 😊, and at 3pm we would leave again until 8pm. Two volunteers would stay home, either morning or afternoon, to prepare lunch/dinner and help out with whatever was needed.
Sometimes we would just drive and see what we would find, sometimes we heard the evening before that certain animals had been seen in an area, and would look for them, sometimes we would have a specific task, like look for a female cheetah. We took lots of pictures of all the animals we saw and collected data (which animal, gps, which road etc).
Every day we would also do conservation work, like wrap a tree with chicken wire to project it against elephants. Elephants scrape of the bark of a tree to get to the nutrients behind the bark, but that kills the trees. We also did a sleep out in the bush, and bush walks. The project has many camera’s in the park, also to collect data of the animals, and sometimes the camera’s needed to be replaced or batteries needed to be changed, and therefore we would need to walk through the bush, was very exciting.
I have been amazed by the amount of animals I have seen, and often so close by, and also by the knowledge of the guides. They would always tell us so much about the behaviour, and I thought it was very interesting to see how they know certain animals are around, sometimes by a specific sound of a bird, they could tell if a rhino was present.
I met great people and am still in touch with some of them. I would really recommend this project if you are interested in wildlife and conservation.
Sabine van Ravenswaay
"Thank you for all your help. You were amazing, answering all my questions and giving me all the information I needed for my trip. I really appreciate your personal support; I don't think many companies would offer the same level of assistance. So thank you again, very much!!"
WILDERNESS CONSERVATION PROGRAMME
I learned so much about animals and conservation and I am so happy that I have been able to contribute to this project. The balance between work and relaxing was really great. Even though I am not that sporty, I enjoyed the volleyball! I also loved the sleep out, the games we did together and the space we gave each other to do our own things. I never saw the animals so up close and in such a relaxed way: Amazing! I learned a lot of new birds and bird calls! Loved it!
This was an adventure, an experience I will never ever forget. I loved being here!
Many thanks for taking care of everything!
REPTILE CONSERVATION CENTRE / WILDLIFE LEARNING EXPERIENCE
Stepping off the plane onto African soil after what seemed like endless airports and aeroplanes is one of the most memorable moments of my life. Like many people, I always wondered what Africa was really like, compared to the TV screen version. It certainly does not disappoint. My African adventure consisted of one month at a world renowned Reptile Centre and then another with the Wildlife Experience Project. I'm not sure how I managed to stuff so many amazing memories into two months!
South Africa is one of the best places in the world to work with and learn about reptiles. The Reptile Centre is a must for anyone passionate about reptiles and creepy crawlies or simply interested in learning more about them. The team at the centre really knows their stuff, so even if you're not too hot on reptile knowledge, you soon will be. The centre plays a very important role in reptile conservation and education, both locally and on a much larger 'scale' (no pun intended). Volunteering is an amazing opportunity to get involved.
I loved being part of the team at the Reptile Centre and volunteers get stuck in with all aspects of the parks work. I particularly enjoyed responding to the 'call-outs' and piling into the pick-up with the other volunteers on rescue missions. I think that one of the most thrilling aspects of work at the park is its unpredictability. On some days we were responding to maybe three or four call outs, and volunteers take it in turns to make the captures. It's a real buzz! Two rescues which I was involved with resulted in saving the lives of two 4m rock pythons and up to a hundred eggs. Encounters with such impressive wild animals really stick in your mind! Of course, a good camera is a must-have item and I soon learned to always have it to hand.
There is always work to be getting on with at the centre. The day usually starts with a check of all enclosures. The animals need to be removed from their enclosures so that they can be cleaned. This means volunteers are constantly practicing their handling techniques. When you feel confident enough and the curators are happy with your handling, volunteers have the opportunity to perform snake demonstrations and spider/scorpion handling sessions with the public, including school groups. The first couple of times, it is really nerve-racking, but an amazing experience when you have done it. It is nice to think that most of the people you talk to have probably never been so close to these animals. Unfortunately, reptiles are persecuted all over the world and are often very misunderstood. It's a brilliant feeling to have influenced people's perceptions of these animals and to have helped with their on-going conservation.
Volunteers quickly become very good friends with each other and the centre's staff. I was sad to leave as I had such an amazing experience, met some wonderful people (who I am still in contact with now) and learnt so much. But I was also looking forward to my next month with the Wildlife Experience Project.
The bellowing lions succeeded in making my first night at the Wildlife Experience Project a rather sleepless one. What an introduction to life in the bush! The daily morning bushwalks were a real highlight of my time here.
Exploring the reserve with the project leaders and learning to identify the millions of different plants and animal species was the perfect way to start the day. Followed by lectures and practical reserve management, this was a brilliant introduction to Africa and the work of reserves. Living in the bush was an amazing and often surreal experience. I was lucky enough to witness the transformation after the rains. Suddenly the arid landscape burst into a magnificent, lush green Africa; and with rain came the wildlife. We were often visited by wandering bull elephants just metres from the camp fence and could spend hours on the watch tower spying on the zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, buffalo, warthog and many more visitors to the water holes. Nothing compares to seeing these magnificent animals in their natural environment.
The project provided an ideal base to explore the surrounding area and go on the various excursions, or to escape the mid-day heat in the swimming pool. A few of the other volunteers and I often rented a car from Hoedspruit and went exploring. Most weekends we were off to Kruger National Park, a breath-taking reserve definitely worth a few visits. Driving back in the evening on one occasion, we saw 18 snakes on the road, an indication of how much wildlife there is in this area!
Volunteers are regarded as members of the family and it is an amazing, homely atmosphere on this project. For me, this was a life-changing and inspiring experience. For anyone thinking about exploring Africa, my advice would be to get out there and have the time of your life. Africa is a simply mind-blowing place and unforgettable experiences are guaranteed!