Volunteers on Amakhala are actively involved in the continuous monitoring of the lions, elephants and cheetah, as well playing a role in the rehabilitation of the land to its natural state through alien plant and erosion control and assist with the maintenance of fences and roads. Reserve priorities continuously change depending on many external influences; therefor the involvement in certain short term projects regularly occur. These could include assisting the vet in ecological work like the relocating of animals for genetic reasons or the control of population numbers to taking fixed point photography of set areas on the reserve to monitor the vegetation growth and how the weather and climate influence the reserve vegetation.
Every week includes a fun day out which could be a trip to the Addo Elephant National Park, day trip to kenton-on-sea, Horse trail ride on the reserve, Big 5 game walk on Amakhala and a beach walk to the Dias Cross. Summer time includes a lovely night out camping under the stars and learning about medicinal and useful plans, team building exercises and a South African famous “braai”.
The longer you stay as a volunteer on Amakhala Game Reserve, the more in depth your involvement will be across many facets of ecology, conservation and reserve maintenance and social responsibility.
The veins and arteries behind the heartbeat of Reserve conservation
Conservation activities cover involvement in aspects of both animal and land management. The tracking and monitoring animals, particularly the monitoring of the predators and their impact on the population numbers of their prey, forms a core of the work done by the volunteers. When animals are introduced or relocated, the volunteers sometimes have the opportunity to assist the vet and ecologist in the process. Land management activities includes the monitoring of grazing patterns, road and fence maintenance and the removal of alien vegetation.
The Conservation element of the Volunteer Program is the veins and arteries behind the heartbeat of Reserve conservation. For those “wildlife tourists” seeking an experience which will enable them to explore, no matter how short a time, a new ecosystem and all its inhabitants awaits them. Not all these visitors have the same motivations. Some may be seriously interested in the conservation of endangered species, the maintenance of bio-diversity or scientific research in a particular habitat. Others may just wish to photograph wildlife. All aspects of conservation are addressed in this course, the longer you stay, the more in depth your experience will be.
Volunteers are actively involved in assisting the Amakhala Foundation‘s commitment to environmental education to school going aged children, mostly from the disadvantaged communities of the area. These exist in the form of activities themed around days like Arbour Day, World Environmental Day, Water Day etc held at the Amakhala Conservation Centre. The volunteers also run their own community work with two local schools, where they work on the fine and gross motor skills of Grade R and Grade 1 students. They also run their own reading club with Grade 3 students from the one school to improve their conversational English. The Isipho Centre in Paterson cares for vulnerable children of this rural town and the volunteers spend several afternoons a week assisting with a beading project, playing fun and educational games with the children.
In conjunction with the Amakhala Foundation, Amakhala Volunteers also assists on the following projects:
- Environmental Education: the programme aims to cultivate an understanding and love of nature in the children who visit the Amakhala Conservation Centre (ACC), thus increasing awareness and concern so that future generations can enjoy our natural habitats.
- Isipho Charity Trust: the independent charity trust is operating through a Centre in the nearby town of Paterson and supports over 300 children through 2 preschool classes, an after-care programme, feeding scheme, materials supports for schooling, psycho-social support and provides much needed HIV/AIDS education in the local community.
- Education and Skills Development: the training programmes enable staff members to take on new positions and responsibilities.
Spekboom Project – Spekboom is proudly South African plant found predominantly in the Eastern Cape. It is one of the best carbon sequestrators in the world and can live up to 200 years and grows up to 5 metres. With this in mind, Amakhala have created this as a 10-20 year vision to replant on the reserve in specially allocated areas so to create forests again and rebuild our thicket. The long term future plan is to close all the corridors and re-establish thicket with not only Spekboom but Sweet Thorn and Coral Tree so to one day drop the fences to the neighbouring reserves. Spekboom is also being used to assist in erosion control by planting it in the eroded areas to grow and stabilize soil, slow down waterflow and create suitable environment for other plants to grow. More spekboom has been planted in the community areas including our schools and Isipho centre. The plants will be advertised to tourists in lodge shops and donations can be made towards the Amakhala Foundation.
Night drive monitoring – Biweekly night drives will occur in order to monitor the movement and distribution range of the Aardwolf population on Amakhala. A camera trap will be set up and collected for data during these surveys to assist with information. During monitoring, all other known nocturnal species will be monitored to compare numbers and abundance. The aardwolf numbers have plummeted over the past years as farmers in the past have mistaken them for carnivores who may prey on their livestock. Recently activities have been more frequent as the Aardwolf is spotted more regularly moving around.
A highlight for volunteers that stay longer than two weeks is the opportunity to experience a one night stay at the luxury Safari Lodge on Amakhala. During our summer months we do overnight camping under the stars on the reserve. Other fun activities include, target shooting, star gazing, beach and on our pristine coast, guided walks focusing on the medicinal use of plants endemic to our area and outings to Addo Elephant National Park.
No matter how short or how long you have intended to stay, Amakhala Volunteer program caters for any duration. However, we do recommend a minimum of 6-8 weeks, as we want you to fully experience the African Bush in as much time as you can possibly cater for. The reserve is continuously monitoring and managing game throughout the year. As a Conservation Volunteer you will assist ‘behind the scenes’ on various ongoing conservation projects and reserve priorities. Our duty is to provide the correct and up to date scientific information on the reserve and its animals to the people who make the life changing decisions within the reserve.
The Expedition Project is a social enterprise! Please use the enquiry form below – by doing so you are supporting both this project and projects nearby at no extra cost. You will also get access to similar projects, accommodation discounts and special offers.
Contact your programme co-ordinator here or via the enquiry form below for a volunteer information pack.
Donation options here.
Catch up on project updates, live Q&A sessions and live streams here.