Southern African Odyssey

Southern African Odyssey

Posted by Sam Hopkins on 6th Dec 2013

As we mentioned on our Facebook page, our Managing Director Michael and Sales Consultant Hannah have just returned back from two weeks of seeing many of our projects out in Southern Africa, and by the sounds of it they had an amazing time – the rest of us are pretty jealous! Here follows their itinerary and a selection of photos from the various projects they visited.

After an 11 hour flight, a stopover in Johannesburg, and a connecting flight to Windhoek, they both took the 45 minute transfer to the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary where they were able to get involved in a whole host of activities. This included caracal walks, carnivore feeds (of lions, cheetahs and leopards), patrols of the enclosure fence, a visit of the 'clever cubs' daycare and even a walk with the resident baby baboons! Here are a few words from Hannah with regards to the project:

"I had many highlights on the trip, but being able to walk with the baby baboons at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary was one of my favourites – they're so cute and mischievous!"

What's more, both Hannah and Michael were able to visit the Carnivore Conservation and Research Project – about four and a half hours south of the Sanctuary and another one of its project sites. Flying there provided the perfect vantage point from which to view the 40,000 hectare expanse of arid shrubland and deserted mountains which make up the site.


Key research of cheetahs and leopards takes place here via camera traps, which help to track the animals' movements and behavioural patterns. Many of the site's carnivores are rehabilitated and subsequently released, usually animals which had been injured or threatened by farmers trying to protect their livestock. By tracking them, the project team is able to assess their movements, which will help to prevent the carnivores straying onto farmland again, thus reducing human – animal conflict.

The work being done here is vital in the conservation of this magnificent species, and so far has proven greatly successful. To date, over 80 cheetahs, 30 leopards, and 15 brown hyena (the rarest type of hyena) have been released around various sites in Namibia.

Following their trip to Namibia, Michael and Hannah flew to our Victoria Falls Conservation Project in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. As one of our newest projects, they were excited to see what would be in store for them! After a bit of a queue at the airport to get their Zimbabwean visa, they were met by Brenda – one of the lovely project facilitators. During their time at the project site, they were able to get involved in a wide array of activities articularly with regard to habitat preservation.

These included elephant and rhino identification, tree protection from (mischievous!) elephants, road and fence maintenance, a visit to the local school on site, and alien plant removal. Here are a few words from Michael with regards to his time at the project:

"It was great to get out of the office and have a thorough look at our projects in Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. A particular highlight for me was seeing critically endangered black rhinos at our Victoria Falls Conservation Project in Zimbabwe. It was such a privilege to see them in the wild, and seeing the work that Brenda, Peter and their team were doing really emphasised just how important these projects are for wildlife conservation and habitat preservation".

It certainly sounds like an excellent project! Following on from their quick stopover at the project and the falls themselves, Michael and Hannah hopped back on to a plane and flew to the tiny airport of Phallaboara in the Limpopo district of South Africa. They were here to visit 'The Great Lion Project', located on the massive Selati Game Reserve – a non-commercial wilderness area solely designated to the conservation of wildlife and the environment and to get a taste of volunteering with wild lions and volunteering in South Africa as a whole. Though they only had a day here, Michael and Hannah were able to go on two game drives, where they were able to track the resident pride of lions and log their whereabouts, as well as talk to the other volunteers about the other activities on offer here. One of the project's signature attractions lies in its rhino tracking, where one volunteer heads out with one member of staff for the whole day to track the resident rhinos: all via quad bike! As if it needed any more excitement!

For the last leg of their Southern African tour, Michael and Hannah headed to the 'Askari Wilderness Conservation Project', located near the town of Hoedspruit. Askari lies in 25,000 hectares of untamed beauty which used to be owned by local cattle farm owners. Here volunteers are heavily involved in trying to return the land back to nature, and like with the project in Victoria Falls, much of the work is reserve, habitat and research based. Acting almost as pseudo-staff, volunteers really count to the project, and facilitators Katie and Joe really help them to feel an essential part of the team! What's more, Askari offers the chance to tick off all of the 'Big 5' – surely on everyone's tick-list!

For more information on these incredible projects, please see our 'Volunteering in Africa' page.


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