Firstly, The Expedition Project team would like to thank you for your continued support throughout the year and decade! None of our work would be possible without the inclination of others around the world to help out and take part in our expeditions.
With that being said, in celebration of the New Year and to set our sights on our collective 2020 game plan, we’d like to take some time to reflect on two of our main projects – Umkhondo and Nkonzo– their successes in 2019, and the challenges they face heading into the new year. Hopefully, this can help spread the word about all of the amazing work these projects have been doing and how we can support them in overcoming obstacles.
Umkhondo – Albertinia, Western Cape
Umkhondo started their tree project in 2019, which set the goal of planting 500 trees per month to account for the flora lost in the rainforest fires. They used a combination of seedlings and seeds of spekboom and acacia karoo trees to compensate for and re-establish trees on old agricultural land. Back on one of the reserves they operate on, Umkhondo carried out the necessary erosion work needed to maintain soil health and ensure the flourishing of the plants and wildlife. The annual government evaluation succeeding their work resulted in being issued a 100% erosion control effort! Soil health is something not many people think twice about, but it is essential in a well-functioning ecosystem.
A major part of this project is their VetX initiative, which has accomplished amazing things over the past year. With droughts sweeping across South Africa, farm animals were struggling to find available feed and water. The VetX program successfully relocated 700+ animals to areas that could sustain their needs, and in turn assisted farmers whose prospects were looking dull. Additionally, the VetX program assisted land owners with management techniques and treatments of animals’ parasite overload caused by the drought, improving their overall health.
Here’s a summary of their goals for the New Year:
- Launch the Bees Project, allowing volunteers to construct beehives and place them in the Fynsbos area. This will hopefully attract more bees to the biome and conduct research on their contribution to the ecosystem.
- Buy cameras to implement nocturnal monitoring, allowing for the identification and monitoring of individuals and population growth of various species.
- Train more students with the VetX program.
- Add more training, and specifically more in-depth anti-poaching training, for volunteers.
Their biggest challenge for 2020 is ensuring that they have enough volunteers for the new projects they’re looking to implement – they fully rely on conservation volunteers and vet students to reach their goals so it is imperative that willing individuals take part! Umkhondo also plans to add more accommodation at their base camp while becoming more eco-friendly as a whole, which proves complex. However, they already have plans to re-use water and become as self-sufficient as they can, with the ultimate goal being to convert to completely off the grid within the next 3 years!
Nkonzo – Hartenbos, Western Cape
Over the past year, Nkonzo reached an all time high for amount of data collected on all projects! Research and data is instrumental in improving habitats and understanding how we can help species thrive. Additionally, they have spent nearly 3,000 hours with white rhinos for monitoring and data collection, and experienced the birth of a white rhino calf who has now been added to their study. Nkonzo have deployed multiple camera traps for elusive mammal work, and have upgraded their volunteer accommodation so that you can have the most comfortable experience possible in 2020!
Nkozno plan to focus on continuing rhino research, beginning the Cape Mountain Zebra Feeding Ecology Project, and deploying additional camera traps to extend their coverage. Stay tuned on our website to learn more about these endeavours in the future!
Nkonzo are in need of additional volunteers in the field as well as funding of equipment, such as camera traps. As with the other projects, a major concern for Nkonzo is the threats to biodiversity and free-roaming wildlife, which includes things like poaching, deforestation, erosion, urbanization, and erosion.
We are so fortunate to have been able to work with these, and many more projects across South Africa in 2019. The growth we have seen makes us extremely excited for the new year and all of the success it will bring! Please continue to keep up to date with The Expedition Project and help out when you can – it is greatly needed and appreciated! From all of us, we wish you a Happy New Year!