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Mittwoch, 18. April 2018

travelpost - South Africa 2018 - the story

african wild dogs
First of all I want to say big "thank you" to the people I met at the Dumela Logde. I had such a great time doing some conservation and research work with African Impact again, and as everybody knows. It´s all about the people and the team.

So four weeks pass really quick, especially if your eager and zealous on making your impact everyday. If you carry out voluntary work in different sectors, having a packed day, in addition not wasting any spare time with unnecessery things and if you head to the physical limits. Besides you´re doing your usual thing with the photography, like the photo editing. And after all you won´t find a lot of time to sleep. This may sound like a horror trip for some people. For me, this is the perfect off work adventure. And so, this time it was a pretty incredible experiance again, but super exhausting as well.

The average daily routine started with getting up early, mostly around 5 o'clock. To be on time for the awakening of the wildlife in one of the three nature reserves, or to be able to finish the physical tasks before lunch time. The time until noon was usually packed with project work or lectures about diffrent topics.
the bush

At lunchtime we were given an hour to relax, so the early afternoon was available for further project work or preparations for the activities of the next few days. In the late afternoon or early evening we went back to the reserves to collect more data and to observe the wildlife. After the dinner prepared for us in the lounge, we played cards or table tennis, edited photos or chatted about the experience of the day.

hyenas at a kill
On the weekends would have been some time to relax and sleep in. However, there is always so much more to do, so the time to relax was busted with two trips to the Kruger National Park (to see more animals) and some easy hikes on the super interesting scenic Blyde River Canyon and the Panorma route as well as a visit to the nearest town for having a stroll.

A brief overview of the tasks:

- Research:

working tasks
In the sector of research and field work the main tasks were to collect data in the various nature reserves. Mainly it concerns the livestock in general, as well as the data collection of the most important mammals and predators. We did the indentification of the single individuals for elephants and rhinos. Additionally we documented the behavior among each other and to external influences for the lions in different reserves. This included the recognition and reading of animal tracks in all different kinds, such as footprints, feces or marks on trees and plants. For leopards or leopard paw prints, an identification was made as well, the footprints and stride was measured to obtain information about the distribution area and the migration routes of each individual. In one of the reserves, the batteries and SD cards of the camera traps were replaced at regular intervals, as well as the location and viewing direction optimized. In all reserves the population of birds of prey were documented. This included recognizing the type, gender and behavior, as well as recording the GPS coordinates and the type of sighting.

- Project work:

project work
In the subsequent project work, the collected information was summarized and digitized. Inaccurate information had been specified and the identification verified. If no match could be made with known individuals, a new ID Kit was created based on the recordings and data. Another component of the project work was the examination and assignment of images generated by the camera traps. Especially the review of the nocturnal photos was more than exciting.

- Conservation:
river thorne clearing

In terms of conservation and the preservation of the habitat we were active mainly in one of the reserves and near our lodge. In order to prevent large forest fires, a fire protection corridor must be created and maintained between the nature reserves and the affected areas. That means removing thorny shrubs and dead trees. With even more thorns we had to deal with the clearing of non-native large river thorn bushes, which among other things loop around existing trees and thus destroy the vegetation. Pretty nasty. But also a lot of fun. The usual 3% loss was then a torn T-shirt, holey shorts and lots of small cracks and scratches all over. Physically more pleasant was the removal of animal traps and snare weeps. However, small wire loops attached to fences are not so easy to spot when checking the fences over the area for several kilometers, yet it requires some concentration. We have found some, which is good on the one hand, that they are no longer usable, but on the other hand shows that poaching on small mammals with effective traps is unfortunately still ongoing. And last but not least, searching for broken fences around the reserves had been on the to do list. Again, a high concentration was required to detect and recognize small holes in or below the fence line.

- Social:

reading club
The social part consists of two different projects. First, we supported the children of a nearby school in lessons while reading English books. At a certain age, children need to learn English in addition to their native African language, but they do not have the time or get the teaching resources they need. So there is the so-called "Reading Club", where the children of different ages read from different children's books to improve the understanding and pronunciation. Another project is called "Farmers of the future". This supports people who wants to grow their own vegetables. At the moment, the garden area of ​​a school is being used to cultivate fields for their own consumption and some sales, But gardening on African soil can sometimes be very hard and frustrating, as various crops need special conditions and meaningful flourishing the supply and storage with sufficient water is a special topic and last but not least the general knowledge about the horticulture and cultivation of crops has to be taught. Our work was quite comparable with the work in the garden at home shifting the soil, weeding and prepare for the sowing of vegetable germs which also thrive under the African sun.

leopard on a marula tree
All together, these four weeks were exactly to my liking. There was a lot of variety, I learned a lot of new stuff  tried and tested different things, developed ideas, acquired and passed on knowledge. Simply great!

Too lazy for reading or want to see more?
Check out my two videos ...
... for interesting wildlife encounters
... for some snippets about the project

And if you want to see some more photographs with an informative description, check out the ebook version of the coffee table book "Wildlife and Landscape - the African Impact".

(coming soon)

I hope you´ll enjoy it.

Project information: Leopard and Predator Research Project by African Impact, a volunteer organization operating throughout Africa. The project fee, which is paid by us volunteers to support the projects, will be used to fund the ongoing development of additional programs and will allow for further projects and donations through the African Impact Foundation and ALERT.

Go go go volunteering!

big ones
small ones