Conservation volunteer: Take a break from the old routine


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


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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Getting to Know Durban

By Emilio Perez

Over the weekend my colleagues and I visited Durban, the closest city to Umkhumbi Lodge. We went for one night and met with a friend we haven’t seen in over two months. It was a very pleasant experience and we got to see most of the parts of Durban. Our accommodation was in the center of the city, right in front of the City Hall. The surrounding was the poorer side of town and walking to the closest beach (about 1 kilometer away), we saw very dirty streets and a lot of movement. Once arrived at the beach, the amount of people was overwhelming, approximately thousands all walking around and going by the beach. Walking by we saw an arrest happen and a lot of drunk people but we also saw some nice street performances, mostly dances. The extreme amount of people could also be because it was a Saturday afternoon, a day most people would decide to go to the beach.

At night, we decided to visit the other part of Durban, a small town just north called Umhlanga. We had a very pleasant dinner and night out, the movement in the city was more calm. The next day we went again for some breakfast by the beach in Umhlanga and the amount of people was nowhere close to the previous day. We also visited Gateway, a shopping mall that is considered one of the biggest in the world. This seemed to be true as we saw a over four story mall with more than 400 stores. Even though we only we to Durban for one night, we got a look overview of what the city is. I still would’ve liked if we stayed for longer because it is a city to visit more than once.


20170703_140838By Darcy Hill
This week we had our first go at pulling out the plastic that threatens our conservancy, particularly our water sources.  Prior to being transformed into the Ukuwela conservancy, the land that we own and help protect used to be pineapple farms.  Here it is common practise for farmers to lay plastic down across their fields to help promote the growth of their crops (water waste is lowered, weed reduction etc.).  This has meant disaster for our land since the farming has stopped here.  The plastic was not removed, instead was dumped into an almost landfill-like area on our land, where over time it has sat and compounded and has caused mass damage to the environment. Continue reading “PULLING OUT THE PLASTIC…”

The Baby Steps of Conservation

By David Ozuna


The Wild volunteers have been presented with the marvelous opportunity to take down the fencing between the nature conservancy and other properties. The task itself is grueling and tedious requiring us to remove huge u-nails holding the fence in place. However, I also find it very rewarding. As we tear the fencing down I cannot help but imagine the animals that can move freely across lands that were once segregated. I also think of all the benefits this will provide to the natural environment within the conservancy. The wildlife on each property can now interact with one another increasing their diversity and the overall health of their populations.
Although expanding a small conservancy, in the bigger picture, may seem like a small feat, connecting these properties together provides hope and opportunity for the future. This would provide even greater benefit for the conservancy allowing Phinda’s diverse wildlife to move in enhancing the conservancy’s biodiversity and environmental health.
All of these are very small steps, but with each we provide greater opportunity for nature to grow and flourish. In time, the conservancy may resemble its neighbor Hluhuwe Imfolozi Park. This is a 960 square kilometer reserve that houses thousands of species and contributes immensely to conservation of its wild habitat. I would be honored to have played a small part contributing toward that greater outcome.

Save the Impala Fundraiser

By: Victoria (Tori) Gray


At the end of last week us 4 interns were joking around with Harriot about wanting to get another pet…on top of the pet python we already take care of in our room! She told us these obviously cannot be kept as pets, but we could try and save some impala from being culled that she had heard of. She reckoned each were around 100 pounds to be saved and could then be brought to our conservancy. We were immediately interested and wanted to find out more details. When we reached out to the “impala guy”, of the 20 that were originally available, there were now 7 left and were going to be culled at the end of the next week if we didn’t buy them. He said he would give us a deal on the 7 impala: all for 8,400 rand (or around 500 pounds). We happily took on this fundraising challenge to save the impala!
After setting up a Go Fund Me page, we needed to start brainstorming some challenges to make people’s donations worth their while. Our first challenge was more physical: a race down the driveway carrying 30-kilogram sandbags. The second challenge, also physical but at the same time advantageous to our work here: a 2 hour-long plastic picking competition. Part of our work on the conservancy is to clear plastic from a previous non-environmentally-friendly pineapple farmer who decided to dump TONS of plastic on the conservancy in a landfill amongst living plants and animals. By collecting this trash off the ground, we are helping to save this ecosystem. The third and final challenge is unique but entertaining nonetheless: eating 5 edible plants (finishing and swallowing each and every bite).
When we first opened the Go Fund Me page for donations, we were hesitant that we wouldn’t make the money in time to save the impala in a week’s time. We shared it on multiple social media platforms, e-mailed to friends and family, and really tried to get the word out as much as we could! After 2 hours of fundraising, we had reached our goal. We were absolutely beside ourselves- we couldn’t believe that we were able to raise enough money to save the impala in only a couple of hours! A big “Thank You” to those who donated- we are so very grateful for each and every donation made towards saving these impala. Soon Ukuwela Conservancy will have 7 new male impala introduced. I can imagine they will be quite happy amongst fellow impala and other antelopes!



Forms of Conservation!

Today we were involved in clearing a path through a densely wooded area on Unkhumbi’s property. To make this path we had to go through first with machetes chopping down all the grass on the trail. We also had to chop down any trees that hung too low and obstructed the path. Following the machetes, another person came through with a shovel to scoop up any plants deeply rooted in the soil. Finally, another person used a rake to crape away everything that was left leaving a beautifully clear trail behind them. Continue reading “Forms of Conservation!”

The Importance of Camera Traps

Over the past weeks with Wild Volunteers I have learned a lot of important tools that can be used for conservation. One of the most beneficial tools is camera traps. The way these devices work is by a sensor that triggers movement and captures an image or video of the moment. There are different types of camera traps, but the current and most common one uses infrared for sensor movement.

Continue reading “The Importance of Camera Traps”

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