Elephant Relocation in Victoria Falls

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Make a vital difference and help in the relocation of one of the world’s most iconic species of wildlife – the African Elephant.

Based upon ecological analysis, the Stanley and Livingstone Game Reserve, where this project is located, has deciphered that there will be a significant reduced ecological carrying capacity for elephants in the near future. The African Elephant is not only an iconic member of the African 'Big Five', but it is also a keystone species, and their numbers within a protected area such as this reserve need to be carefully monitored. Should a reserve become overpopulated with elephants, there would be significant repercussions which would have major ramifications on the entire ecosystem and the species of flora and fauna within it.

Based on research carried out by the Reserve Manager, the reserve needs to reduce the current elephant population by 5-7% in order to maintain an ecological equilibrium. The aim here is to translocate a number of elephant bulls, between 5 and 10 (depending on the population in the reserve at the time), into neighbouring national parks. By moving the bulls specifically, disturbance to breeding herds and matriarchal groups will be kept to a minimum.

The elephants themselves will be darted via tranquiliser gun from a helicopter. Once the tranquilizer has taken effect and the animals are recumbent on the ground, the game capture team will require plenty of help from you as volunteers. The animals require having their signs acutely monitored whilst they are being kept cool and have their temperature consistently monitored – your role as a volunteer will be to oversee this. This is all preparation for their subsequent translocation to neighbouring reserves. You will be working in teams as a conservation volunteer here, assisting the ground crew, observing the whole process and working in the helicopter.

Based upon ecological analysis, the Stanley and Livingstone Game Reserve, where this project is located, has deciphered that there will be a significant reduced ecological carrying capacity for elephants in the near future. The African Elephant is not only an iconic member of the African 'Big Five', but it is also a keystone species, and their numbers within a protected area such as this reserve need to be carefully monitored. Should a reserve become overpopulated with elephants, there would be significant repercussions which would have major ramifications on the entire ecosystem and the species of flora and fauna within it.

Based on research carried out by the Reserve Manager, the reserve needs to reduce the current elephant population by 5-7% in order to maintain an ecological equilibrium. The aim here is to translocate a number of elephant bulls, between 5 and 10 (depending on the population in the reserve at the time), into neighbouring national parks. By moving the bulls specifically, disturbance to breeding herds and matriarchal groups will be kept to a minimum.

The elephants themselves will be darted via tranquiliser gun from a helicopter. Once the tranquilizer has taken effect and the animals are recumbent on the ground, the game capture team will require plenty of help from you as volunteers. The animals require having their signs acutely monitored whilst they are being kept cool and have their temperature consistently monitored – your role as a volunteer will be to oversee this. This is all preparation for their subsequent translocation to neighbouring reserves. You will be working in teams as a conservation volunteer here, assisting the ground crew, observing the whole process and working in the helicopter.

The activities you take part in as a volunteer here are predominantly surrounding the elephant relocation programme. However, you will also be able to get involved with other activities which are detailed below.

Elephant Relocation
Elephant Relocation
The aim here is to translocate a number of elephant bulls, between 5 and 10 (depending on the population in the reserve at the time), into neighbouring national parks. The elephants themselves will be darted via tranquilizer gun from a helicopter. Once the tranquilizer has taken effect and the animals are on the ground, the game capture team will require plenty of help from you as volunteers! The animals require having their signs acutely monitored whilst they are being kept cool and have their temperature consistently monitored – your role as a volunteer will be to oversee this. You will be working in teams as a conservation volunteer here, assisting the ground crew, observing the whole process and working in the helicopter.
Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls
Spend the weekend walking along and learning all about the largest waterfall in the world, with a width of 1,708 metres and height of 108 metres it results in the world's largest sheet of falling water. There are also a range of adrenaline activities available here, including white water rafting, bungy jumping and canyon swinging.
Game Drive Research
Game Drive Research
Whilst on the project you will help research elephants (particularly on this project), rhinos, predators, raptors and Ground hornbills to gain a better knowledge and stronger understanding of specific species. This enables for more informed decision making regarding species conservation and action plans.
Elephant and Rhino Identification
Elephant and Rhino Identification
A good skill you will learn is elephant and rhino identification. This is very interesting and is a major focus on this project. It also means you will get to spend a lot of time in close proximity to these magnificent mammals!
Conservation Management Activities
Conservation Management Activities
You should expect to be involved in a range of conservation activities whilst here from game counts, predator culvert checks and fence patrols to bush walks with the IAPF (International Anti-poaching Foundation). These activities are an essential contribution towards the successful operation of the reserve.
Camp Out
Camp Out
Get back to nature with a camp out under the stars. There is nothing more magical than being sat around a camp fire, truly immersed in the sounds of Africa (including the whooping of hyenas and the roar of lions) at night time!
Children in the Wilderness programme
Children in the Wilderness programme
As part of this programme, one of Wilderness Safaris’ outreach programmes based at Victoria Falls, you will get involved in helping the teachers at the Jabulani School.

Below is a sample of a day-by-day itinerary for the two week project in August 2016. Please note that the details of the itinerary may not mirror this one exactly and is subject to change.

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
Today you will arrive via Victoria Falls International Airport, where you will be met by a project representative. After an orientation of where you will be staying and a briefing by the reserve staff, you will meet your fellow volunteers and go on your first game drive of the two weeks! Stanley and Livingstone are the only ‘Big Five’ game reserve within the region, so chances are you’ll be able to tick off all of the animals on your bucket list! Dinner, prepared by project staff, will be served around the campfire.
Day 2 - Game Drive & Camping in the Wilderness:
Breakfast is eaten before a briefing. The morning will see you going on a morning game drive – another chance to spot the incredible variety of wildlife species that call the reserve home. After the game drive, you will then be given an extensive Q&A briefing with regards to the elephant relocation programme. This is a chance to ask any questions which you would like answered before the work begins next week. For the evening, you will be camping out in the bush on the reserve – a true wilderness experience!
Day 3 - Fence Patrol via 4x4 Vehicles:
After a hearty breakfast, you will then head out on a fence patrol with 4x4 vehicles, seeing if there are any improvements that need to be made to the reserve's guard fences. After a delicious lunch, you will then head back into the reserve to begin the process of elephant monitoring, keeping tabs on the bull specimens that are going to be relocated.
Day 4 & 5 - Weekend to Explore:
This is the weekend and you will be able to spend it at leisure, seeing just what makes the region of Victoria Falls so special! Explore the thundering Mosi-Oa-Tunya (‘The Smoke That Thunders’) and join a whole host of adventure activities, including bungy jumping, white water rafting, canyon swinging and much more!
Day 6 - 10 - Elephant Relocation Operation:
Today you will begin the 2016 Elephant Relocation Operation! This will include daily briefings with a plan of action, packed lunches, a de-briefing as well as dinner in the evening. The entire operation may take less than 5 days, in which case you will assist with other activities similar to that of the Victoria Falls Conservation Experience.
Day 11 & 12 - Weekend of Relaxation:
Another weekend to enjoy Victoria Falls – go micro-lighting, shopping in the craft markets or generally just relax! Note that should the elephant relocation operation happen to take longer than 5 days, then you will most likely be given the leisure time on Monday instead.
Day 13 - Activities at Victoria Falls Conservation Experience:
Today after breakfast, you will continue with some of the activities included on the Victoria Falls Conservation Experience (should the elephant operation have finished).
Day 14 - Visit the Local Jabulani School:
Today after breakfast you will visit a community project at the local Jabulani School and have fun with the kids before having one last game drive in the park – your final chance to spot the ‘Big Five’!
Day 15 - Final Day:
After breakfast, you will begin your checkout procedures and will be able to give your feedback as to how you think the project went. You will then be transferred to the airport and will either catch your flight home or commence your onwards travel plans.

Accommodation

Volunteers are accommodated in a purpose-built volunteer facility at the Stanley & Livingstone Private Game Reserve. Every volunteer is allocated their own room, with bathrooms shared between two to three volunteers. All rooms have both South African and The UK style plugs where you will be able to charge all of your equipment. The facility also boasts a spacious, fully-equipped kitchen and canteen area where all meals are prepared and served. There is a safe on the premises for cash and small valuables. The lecture room at the conservation centre is well equipped with presentation equipment and a comprehensive book library. One of the highlight features of the conservation centre is the open-air entertainment area, which includes a deck, bar facility and small swimming pool. All overlook the game reserve with waterholes along the Masuwe River's ancient “oxbow”.

Meals and Beverages

As a volunteer, you will enjoy three meals a day, prepared for by the camp cook. Meals are simple, yet tasty and nutritious. Please note that on some days, meals (especially lunches) will be pre-made and packed, and taken out into the field, giving you the opportunity to make the most of your time in the African bush while applying yourself to conservation and community activities. There is also an honesty bar present in the accommodation where you check off what drink you have had and then you will be billed at the end of your project.

Fitness & Skills

This project involves a fair amount of manual work, mainly involved in enrichment and construction tasks, so a moderate level of fitness is necessary and No specific skills or experience are required, only a positive attitude and full commitment to the cause. You must be prepared to work as part of a team.

Vaccinations

The vaccinations required will depend on the medical history of each volunteer. We recommend that you consult your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.

Getting There

You will need to arrive at the Victoria Falls International Airport (VFA) on your project start date during the morning where you will be met by the project facilitator and transferred to the project. This transfer is only around ten minutes. The airport is serviced by flights from Johannesburg, Bulawayo, Windhoek and Harare

Visa Requirements

ALL volunteers are required to get a "Business visa" in order to join this project. These visas are obtainable from the embassy before travel or upon arrival from the immigration officers at the airport, and you will need to pay cash for the visa in USD – currently $55.00 for most European and US citizens, $70 for Canadian citizens and $70 for UK and Irish citizens. It is the responsibility of the traveller to ensure that you obtain the right visa.

Currency and Exchange Rates

The most used currency in Zimbabwe is usually the South African Rand. The exchange rate is around 1 ZAR = 0.06 GBP, 0.1 USD, 0.07 EUR. Please note exchange rates are subject to change. For up-to-date rates, click on XE's website here.

What's included in the price of the project?
  • Accommodation
  • Three meals per day (including weekends)
  • A trip to Victoria Falls
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure
  • All lectures and talks, week day field activities and community visits
What's not Included:
  • Flights
  • Travel and health insurance (please check you have one covering all aspects of the trip)
  • Weekend leisure activities (e.g. to the all you can eat Boma restaurant which costs around U$45)

Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 7DX
United Kingdom

Opening hours:
   Mon-Fri 8:30am–5:30pm
   Sat 10am-4pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987