Cheetah Tracking – Shamwari Conservation Experience

A quick update from last week on the Shamwari Conservation Experience.

Last week Konrad, Myself and our only two volunteers on the Shamwari Conservation Experience, Maizy and Kayla went to Rippons/Bayethe to find two male cheetahs. Anja, our monitoring person on the Reserve has not picked up their signal for 3 weeks and was scared that they are no longer on the Reserve or that the collar battery has gone plat. We set out early to look for them. We scanned with the telemetry all day, had to turn around at a point because the rain flooded a few roads and had lunch in the bush. We finally found them at the end of the day. Only picked up a close signal in the far corner of the reserve but it was too mountainous to get to them. A least we know they are still on the reserve.  This just goes to show that monitoring, even with equipment, is not always that easy!

Read more on the Shamwari Conservation Experience.

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Work with Animals in Africa – The Perfect trip for Wildlife Lovers

More and more people are deciding to take extended leave in order to travel the globe and take part in exciting and meaningful projects. Whether it is a gap year between studies or in the form of a career break or sabbatical it is this time that people choose to discover the world beyond the realms of the normal tourist. If you are one of these people that want a little more than the regular beach holiday, then a wildlife conservation experience working with animals is an ideal trip for you.

Contribute to Global Conservation.

Conservation work with animals is a great way to put something back and contribute to wildlife conservation in a positive way. So not only is a conservation trip ideal for those animal lovers among you, it also helps to protect endangered species from extinction and thus maintaining these species for future generations. Although your time spent on a wildlife experience may only be relatively short your individual contribution is still an important cog in the worldwide conservation of wildlife. Not only this, but you will also return home with a new passion and understanding which you can pass on to friends, family and colleagues which helps to spread the word of conservation.

A great addition to you CV.

Taking a gap year or sabbatical used to be viewed as a waste of time, with many peers advising students to get out and get a job or continue with their studies. However in this day and age a Gap Year is often seen in a more positive light and can actually make a great addition to your CV. Now, a Gap Year sitting on the beach for six months may not be the best character building experience, however choosing to work with animals on a conservation project certainly will be. Many universities and possible employers are looking for hands on experience as well as just qualifications. By taking a gap year working with animals you may get the vital experience that will put you ahead of the competition, it will also prove your maturity to make the decision to partake on an ethical and responsible trip.

The Experience of a Lifetime.

This may sound like a cheesy cliché, but in fact it is almost guaranteed that a wildlife conservation trip working with animals will certainly be a truly life changing experience.

Many people who did not take a gap year or do not have the chance to take a sabbatical will often muse that “they wish they had done something like that”. Whilst you have the opportunity to travel the world and partake in some unique experiences you may as well do just that. Conservation work with animals in Africa will certainly introduce you to some incredibly exciting and unique experiences that you cannot find anywhere else in the world.

Not only do you return with many memories of amazing experiences you will also have the satisfaction of knowing you made a genuine contribution to global conservation.

So what are you waiting for, it must be time to start planning your wildlife conservation experience to work with animals in Africa.

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Shamwari Conservation Experience – Coordinator Update – Feb ’12

We have definitely hit the ground running to start the year of with lots of animal and community projects on the go at Shamwari Conservation Experience.

It all started off with a family of four White Rhino that had to be relocated from our northern section of the reserve to the southern section of Shamwari Game Reserve, it was for security reasons that this small family had to be moved to an area that our anti poaching team can keep an eye on them and keep them safe from ruthless poachers. Luckily the students were there to assist  in the relocation and capture process because it is no easy task to move 4 Rhino luckily the weather played its part and the capture went very well.  They have settled into their new home nicely and are safe and doing well.

There were also 3 buffalo that had to be moved from our breeding camps to the holding pens where they will be introduced to a new Buffalo Herd for genetic diversity and we were all there to lend a hand in the capturing and transporting  process.

One of our new projects for the Shamwari Conservation Experience is to monitor what type of vegetation our Elephants are feeding, which entails us spending time with the herds and monitoring what they are feeding on and keeping a record of the vegetation types. in the future we will be able to know which is the preferred vegetation types that our Elephants are feeding on and the impact that will have on the vegetation for the future. We are looking forward to the results. There are plenty more exiting projects that we have or will be starting and i will keep you updated in the months to come.

Cindy’s Addo Old Age Home projects are still going very well and just last week  the guys were at the home being taught how to make African bracelets and necklaces which can be sold to make some money for the home. There veggie garden is still feeding the local kids a meal a day which is great to know.

We are looking forward to a fun filled year at Shamwari Conservation Experience with lots of new challenges and projects ahead.


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Shamwari Conservation Experience – Coordinator Update, March ’12

It’s that time of the month again when I get to tell you all about the interesting and fun things that we and the students have been getting up to at Shamwari Conservation Experience.

We started the month of with the most amazing hike along the Sacremento trail which runs along the most beautiful sea front stretch in Port Elizabeth. Because of the spring high tide allot of rubbish from the ocean had been washed up onto the beach ,so we spent half a day walking along the beach picking up rubbish as we went, the weather was amazing and it gave our volunteers a chance  to appreciate out magnificent coast line.

The wild life centre is in the process of moving one of our breeding herds of buffalo from one breeding camp to another. This is a process that takes a while because the animals start to realise what is going on and tend to hide from us, but luckily we were able to outwit them and managed to dart 3 buffalo from the herd and will continue to try and dart the rest in the weeks to come.

Our big cat monitoring has been a great success this month with all our big cats giving us the most amassing sightings. We have had the privilege of spending time with a coalition of cheetah males and Sandile, our female leopard, has also been showing herself for us to update our monitoring data which has been really exiting

To keep you posted on what’s happening with our community projects at Shamwari Conservation Experience is that we have built a sand pit at the crèche which the kids are going to really enjoy. The paint has been purchased, thanks to a donation from Merist wood, and we will be painting the school soon. The students will each be given a wall and it will be up to them to be creative on there “canvas”. Look out for the pics next month.

There will more game capture in the next month so I will keep you posted on what’s happening. Some exciting times to come on the Shamwari Conservation Experience programme.

To read more on the Shamwari Conservation Experience Click Here

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Kariega Volunteer Project – Photo of the Week

Some exciting updates from our Kariega Conservation project as the students have been assisting with game capture and relocation…extremely exciting!!

Kariega Game Reserve conservation volunteer, Ann Katrin, with a tranquillised blue wildebeest. This wildebeest was one of the animals that Kariega volunteers helped catch and load onto trucks to be sold during this weeks game capture.

Excess males are sold periodically and new specimens are bought in to diversify the breeding gene pool. Other species which the Kariega volunteers were lucky enough to have worked with included eland, zebra, waterbuck, kudu and blesbuck. Some of the darting is done from a helicopter, while other species are better suited to darting off of the Kariega volunteer vehicle. Game capture is a hands-on, exciting component of our Kariega Volunteer Programme, and we look forward to taking part in this every year!

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Pumba Game Reserve Update – April 2012

A quick update from Pieter Dunn at Pumba Game Reserve, sounds like some nice sightings!

Yet another interesting couple of weeks, only like the bush can offer.

The sun is setting in the west over the ridge and just before it disappears completely the split lioness jumps up with the white male short on her heels. What are they doing? Where are they going? SQUEEEEELLLL!!!!!! Into a warthog burrow they go and before you know it they pull a warthog from under the ground, but what is this, for once the female does not go according to the normal behaviour and dominates the male on the kill. After getting a few hard hitting shots from the lioness the male decided to step aside and let the female go first. Luckily for him she is not as greedy as he is and leaves the carcass with enough for him to also get a bit of a taste.

A bit more of an unusual scenario played of as well when a Black-backed Jackal overpowered a massive Vlei Rat in front of a game viewer. Unlike the general consensus of jackal being mainly scavengers they actually only scavenge about 20% of their meals and will actively hunt the other 80% themselves. Their diet consists of a huge variety including rodents, birds, hares and even fruit.

The fish eagles are also doing us proud, with at least two sub adults already spotted on the reserve. It does seem like the mating pair as moved away from their long time nest across the lake from Pumba Water Lodge to a quieter stretch of lake around the corner, but at least it has not affected their breeding.

Hope you enjoyed the little bush buzz of the last couple of weeks.

Read more on Pumba Game Reserve

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Hoedspruit Endangered Species Update – April 2012

The first week in April has was a busy one for all at Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre. Everything from new births, to moving lions, kept us occupied for the first few days of the month.


Licia, the assistant curator, was in the Centre one morning when she spotted a newborn sable calf. We believe that the calf is already about two weeks old! Sables have a gestation period of eight months, after which one single calf is born. The mother keeps the calf hidden for the first few days before bringing it out into the open.


As many of you know, we have had our four sub-adult lions in quarantine for some time after they escaped from their enclosures. We worked very hard to fix the lions’ enclosure as soon as it was possible, and brought a veterinarian out to ensure that the escapees were safely moved back to their enclosure.

As seen in the photo, our internship student, Simon Mnisi, assisted with the operation. He is indeed learning a lot at the centre thanks to the US Friends of the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre.


Last but not least, we have five of our female Cheetahs in the Maternity Ward at present. We have moved them out of their enclosures into a stress free environment, away from people and vehicles, and only the Curators Christo and Licia are allowed into the area. Cheetahs have a gestation period of three months, after which between two and six cubs are born. Here’s hoping that we have more King Cheetah cubs born.

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