Conservation volunteer: Take a break from the old routine

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It’s Monday morning. The alarm rudely wakes you from your sleep.  You drag yourself from bed. You mentally prepare for the daily grind of school, or work. You question if this is all there is. You wonder how you’ve somehow found yourself in the nine-to-five spiral.

Work. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.

This is not what you wanted from life. You wanted to make a difference. But, you don’t know where to start. You worry you do not fit the stereotype of a volunteer.

Sound familiar?  Continue reading “Conservation volunteer: Take a break from the old routine”

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New Beginnings

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We are fortunate enough to be the very first interns into this new program, having done 3 months at GVI before being placed here with Anton and Harriot to take part in work experience. They were kind enough to come and pick us up from our previous accommodation 9 hours away and drive us to our new accommodation at
Umkhumbi Lodge. Continue reading “New Beginnings”

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  Is wildlife a product like your sofa?

By Cyrille Tchesnakoff

What picture first comes to mind when you think about wildlife?
A typical response: A rhino, standing picturesquely under an acacia, on savanna grassland.
To complete the perfect picture, let’s take it one step further. Let’s paint a warm red sun, setting on the African horizon. It is a powerful image, particularly as the rhino is such an iconic and charismatic species, and one that is facing extinction.  Continue reading ”  Is wildlife a product like your sofa?”

Duck diaries – What the duck?!

On our first day as interns, we were introduced to a couple of feathered friends named Doris and Delilah. These orphaned ducklings were handed over to Umkhumbi lodge from the local vets. It is now up to us to raise and rehabilitate them.

But, exactly what type of ducks they are remains a mystery. No one at the lodge has ever seen their kind – even bird specialists are left scratching their heads.

Our only hope in identifying them is to wait until they molt their juvenile feathers and enter the basic plumage stage – as adults, their fully matured feathers should help provide us with vital clues.

For now, however, we concentrate on giving them the best start in life.

When they first arrived at the lodge, the pair were just two days old and weighed around 36g.

They were a month old when us interns met them, and putting on weight fast –
Delilah weighed in at 250g and Doris at 284g.

They have been in our care for just over a week now and are growing by the day. Delilah now weighs 416g and Doris weighed 427g. On average the pair are putting on 25g a day!

Currently, Doris and Delilah are fed on a diet of grains which they have been on since they were born. Now they are getting bigger, we can start feeding them some treats such as fresh veg and fruit to bring some variety and excitement into their diet.

Each morning, we clean out their pen, replenish their food and water and exercise them with a swim in the sink – something they absolutely adore.

Over the past week, we have incorporated a few toys into exercise time, in the form of rocks and pebbles. They enjoy inspecting these with their beaks – tossing them around here and there – splashing us in the process!

Our next idea is to introduce some tennis balls to the water, a new unfamiliar object for them to investigate and play with. This, we hope, will help encourage natural behaviour,

Are you part of nature?

As you read these lines, be it on your computer, cellphone, or tablet – do you feel like a part of nature?
What if I said you should; would you think I’m crazy?

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We have changed the world we live in drastically. The extent of our impact is greater than for any other species before us. But, just like all the other living organisms on this planet, we are a product of evolution through natural selection.  Continue reading “Are you part of nature?”

Shishi Update

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After his first attempt it was try two for Shishi verse the big bad world, this time we change the plan slightly we decided that for the first night we should feed him before we released him and not place food on the hatch so as not to attract unwanted attention form the wild Bush babies. His first two night of freedom went quite will and we didn’t really see him, this was a good sign and we started to get our hopes up. However, the next night we found him on the car outside the house, not quite where you want to find a bush baby. As hard as we tried we could get him to head back to the trees in fact he headed under the car and into the wheel arch. This is when we decided that it wasn’t safe for him on the Lodge grounds as there was far too many cars and he seemed to have no fear of being on the floor with the dogs. So unfortunately we were back at square one with a Shishi back in his cage for his own safety. Continue reading “Shishi Update”

Time for a New Start

After an amazing three months working alongside Anton and Harriot it is time for us to say goodbye. We have had some amazing experiences and crossed some big hurdles along the way. We have managed to achieve so much with getting the big aviary built which now stands there proud on the Conservancy, it is a shame that we didn’t quite get to see it used but we are sure that Kludd and Igor our Spotted Eagle Owls will be using it soon. It has been wonderful to take part in the releases of some of South Africa’s beautiful wildlife and to see them all thrive in the wild.  As well as to care for the animals that are in the process of being rewilded it has been a great joy to see our long term resident Shishi the Thick Tailed Bush baby finally released and doing well all be it still finding comfort in his log that he has called home for so long. Continue reading “Time for a New Start”

Mongoose Release and Recapture

IMG_1400[1]After the successful release of the Mongoose family we hadn’t seen them for a week or so and assumed they had made themselves at home in the bush. Little did we know that one of them was terrorising the residents on the conservancy. We were called out one day to pick up one of our mongoose nicknamed Stubby due to his small tail. When we arrived at the house we found Stubby on the veranda eating the dogs food, now came the task of having to catch him. This proved to be easier than we thought it would be and after about five minutes we manage to corner him and grab him at which point we popped him in a box and moved and released him on the other side of the conservancy where he was first released.  Continue reading “Mongoose Release and Recapture”

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