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I've never done anything quite like conducting a census for monkeys. Counting hundreds of colobus, sykes, vervet monkeys and baboons is an oddly rewarding experience.
What else did I do on my gap year on South Coast of Kenya:
Repair and installing Colobridges, monkey-crossing bridges over Diani Beach road Remove vegetation from power lines to stop monkeys from being electrocuted Work alongside school children doing studies on medicinal plants used by community
Binoculars: Eyes in Field
For Shamwari Game Reserve, Binoculars were undoubtedly most useful piece of equipment I had. You’ll understand why they are often called field eyes when you get to Shamwari.
They are especially useful for mammal monitoring and tracking program that requires diligent scanning of at least 20,000 hectares of African bush. You also need them while taking game counts and conducting anti poaching patrols. This makes you feel like you're really playing your part in things.
These missions in name of nature are incidentally carried out from back of land rovers; genuine experience!
We spotted so many varieties of amazing animals; I don't even know where to begin. While stacking up thorn trees around village, a technique used to keep predators out and livestock in, we were surprised by sighting of a cheetah, a perfect time to zoom in with those binoculars.
My gap year voluntary work on Shamwari also covered following: Assisting with game darting Alien vegetation control and identification Camp outs in bush Feeding of predators at The Born Free animal rescue sanctuary
A Trusty Pair of Hiking Boots
If you're walking through 54 000 hectares of mountains, plains, indigenous fauna and flora and incredible rock formations of Warmwaterberg Mountains, I recommend getting good boots.
Most of animal research projects at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve involved tracking. This meant covering a lot of rocky terrain in order to complete our objectives of game counts, monitoring and transect analysis. Camps outs in bush and nocturnal game monitoring turned out to be extremely adventurous.
Generally, it was more of a team thing. I felt connected and part of something that, beyond just talking about it, really was doing something to help conservation efforts in real world.
These are only a few examples of hands-on experience we had: Plant studies and identification Animal habituation Bird monitoring - bird counts on dam including raptor family Medicinal use of plants and vegetation biomes
Worldwide Experience provides conservation volunteers & gap year in Africa opportunities on some of Southern Africa's premier private game reserves. This gives volunteers from around the world a chance to work closely with animals and to help forward the South African National Park's conservation objectives.