Volunteer – Amakhala Game Reserve

EKOSINI

WHAT WILL BE EXPECTED OF ME?

Conservation Work

The reserve is continuously monitoring and managing game throughout the year.  Volunteers assist “behind the scenes” on various ongoing conservation projects and reserve priorities.  Our duty is to provide accurate and up-to-date scientific information on the reserve and its animals to the people who make the life changing decisions within the reserve.

Managing the newly-introduced lions is a primary responsibility for the volunteers at Amakhala, however you will also have the chance to assist with many other short and long term projects on the reserve including some of the following:

• Game capture, counts and monitoring

• Animal tracking using telemetry

• Wildlife identification (elephant/rhino/predators/birds)

• Territorial ranges and feeding ranges

• Lion health and breeding monitoring

• Erosion control / road maintenance

• Wetland rehabilitation

• Fence patrol and maintenance

• Vehicle maintenance

• Alien plant control and bush cleanups

• Boma maintenance

• Navigation and compass orientation

• Target shooting

• Taxidermy – hunting discussion “conservation or not”

• Guided bushwalks, tracking and trails through reserve

• Bush survival – camping under the stars (weather dependent)

• Report writing and updating project data

• Kayaking/boat trips on Bushman’s River

Reserve priorities at any one time may continuously change dependent on many external influences, therefore your involvement in certain projects may be affected. As such, the longer your placement, the more in depth your involvement across many facets of conservation and reserve maintenance.  This program provides an insight into the environmental issues and management of a game reserve.  Volunteers are acquainted with the techniques for collecting, analyzing and disseminating information on ecological aspects.  The main focus is having FUN while contributing towards conservation and rehabilitating the land back to its natural habitat.

Community Development Work

Amakhala prides itself on its strong involvement with the local communities and this work is a highlight for many volunteers.

• Children Aids Orphanage – The Paterson Children’s AIDS orphanage has between 12-30 children of ages 4-12 at any time.  Two dedicated locals run the orphanage, providing hope, love and life to these children.  Amakhala volunteers generally visit the orphanage several times a week – organizing game days, assisting with fundraising or just playing with the kids.  Both the volunteers and orphans love these visits – it is amazing to see the children’s happiness when the Amakhala vehicle arrives!

• Food 4 Thought Program – Amakhala volunteers recently began a herb and vegetation nursery by the AIDS orphanage and have plans to train the community to become self-sustaining – providing food for themselves as well as making income by selling their goods.  Volunteers are currently responsible for the fertilizing and maintenance of this nursery.

• Animal Welfare and Animal Care – This latest community project undertaken by the volunteer program is still in its early stages.  Animal care is nearly non-existent within the rural communities.  Costs of having pets spayed or neutered are simply unaffordable, and therefore overpopulation and sickness are rife.  We are in the process of setting up relief and educational program whereby pets from the community can be washed/treated/spayed at a fraction of the normal vet cost and locals can be educated about pet care and diseases.

HOW LONG CAN I VOLUNTEER FOR?

1 week and up. Most volunteers stay for 2-4 weeks, but longer is possible.

WHAT QUALIFICATIONS, IF ANY, DO I REQUIRE?

No previous experience or knowledge is necessary to join the Amakhala program.  The vision behind the volunteer program is to provide people with the opportunity to give something back to the environment and have a life changing experience, while providing the reserve with invaluable conservation assistance.

Amakhala accepts volunteers of 16+ years of age.  Volunteers under 16 years old are only considered when accompanied by a parent/guardian.  There isn’t a maximum age limit, though a reasonable fitness level is necessary.

WHAT LANGUAGE WILL I NEED TO KNOW?

English

HOW DO I GET TO YOUR LOCATION?

The closest towns to Amakhala are Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth – approximately 600-700 kms from Cape Town.

Flights and buses are available from Johannesburg/Cape Town to Port Elizabeth.  Arrangements will be made for the Amakhala staff or JC Shuttle Services to collect incoming volunteers from either the Port Elizabeth airport or bus station (R350 South African rands or approx GB£25 each way paid directly to staff).  Amakhala is approximately 70 kms (45 minutes) from Port Elizabeth.

ARE THERE ANY COSTS INVOLVED TO VOLUNTEER?

Click HERE to find out up to date costs and requirements for volunteering with AMAKHALA.

WHAT TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION, MEALS AND FACILITIES CAN I EXPECT TO BE AVAILABLE TO ME?

Living Conditions

You will be accommodated in an eight-bedroom house in the nearby town of Paterson (10 minutes from the reserve).  The house is a beautiful converted railway station, overlooking a large garden and within “crawling” distance of the local drinking hole.  Some of the rooms are single rooms, however please be prepared to share if necessary.   A communal dining room and living room with TV are situated centrally within the house, leading off to a kitchen.  Internet is available in the sunroom.  The house also has an outside braai (BBQ) area which has seen many festive nights!

The program only accepts 8 volunteers, therefore ensuring a unified, highly personalized experience.  The house also accommodates several of the Amakhala rangers and administrative staff, further contributing to a great family-orientated atmosphere.  Volunteers participate in the creation of menus and the preparation of meals on a rotational basis.

Lodge Experience

Volunteers are treated to a one night 4-star guest experience at the Safari Lodge at the Amakhala Game Reserve (R1500 value).  The Safari Lodge is tucked away in a valley of indigenous bush,  its location is ideal for the best wildlife viewing.  The intimate thatched lodge with unique safari huts offers an undisturbed retreat where you can regenerate your soul and tune into the sounds of nature. Four course dinners of traditional dishes are cooked safari style over the coals.  After a luxurious bubble bath, a good night sleep awaits you before another active Amakhala day in the African bush.

Meals are included. Vegetarian option available upon request before arrival.

WHAT WILDLIFE SPECIES ARE THERE?

Amakhala game Reserve is home to Africa’s “Big Five” – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino.

WHAT ATTRACTIONS CAN I EXPERIENCE DURING FREE-TIME?

The working week at Amakhala is Monday to Friday.  Working hours are dependent on the season and the heat – there are often earlier mornings and longer mid-day breaks in the hot, summer months.  Evenings and weekends are at your own leisure. Volunteers generally relax in the evenings at the local pub or around the open fire at the volunteer house.

Weekends can be used by volunteers to explore some of the surrounding areas.  Volunteers are welcome to hang around the volunteer house on the weekends, but many people choose to head off in groups – favorite outings include Jeffrey’s Bay for great beaches and surfing, Grahamstown for shopping and festivals, and Port Elizabeth for amazing nightlife!

IN CONCLUSION

Amakhala is the ultimate “Bush, Beach and Community” experience!

Feel the heartbeat and rhythm of Africa at our Amakhala Game Reserve, which has quickly become one of the finest malaria-free “Big 5” destinations in the Eastern Cape wilderness of South Africa. Amakhala is a 15,000 acre game reserve that will refresh your soul and leave you in awe of life’s abundance, beauty and spectacular scenery.

Sunlit grassy savannah plains, a mosaic of Valley Bushveld plants including the Aloe from which Amakhala derives its isiXhosa name, the gently dappled light of the sand forest, many watering holes and the wide spellbinding Bushman’s River. This is home to great African mammals (including lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino) as well as a wide variety of small mammals, birds and insects.  It will humble and fascinate you.

As a conservation “Pride” volunteer, you are the veins and arteries behind the heartbeat of reserve management at Amakhala.  All aspects of conservation are addressed on this program – the longer your stay, the more in depth your experience will be.

When assisting with our community program, you may battle across language barriers, cultural differences and socio-economic backgrounds; however the reward for the local community from our volunteer efforts is enormous.  It may even be a life-changing experience for you – seeing the smiles and heartfelt appreciation for your small efforts is absolutely unforgettable.

For more information on ENKOSINI ECO EXPERIENCE, please visit www.enkosini.org

For important information on travelling overseas, please read ‘KNOW BEFORE YOU GO WILD!‘