VOLUNTEER TRIP SOUTH AFRICA
Mkuze Game Reserve
Monday, 16th January 2017, 5 AM
I can’t believe 2 weeks have gone already, for anyone planning to do this, you have to do a minimum of 4 weeks, it takes your body approximately a week to adjust to the gruesome hours and schedule, the long hours out in the bush and few hours of sleep. You also get the opportunity to be at different game reserves, which is great as you get to see that each reserve is unique; the layout, vegetation, animals, the work they focus on, new people you meet.
I’d like to thank everyone who made it an unforgettable fortnight. Hayden, our very knowledgeable monitor and a great fun guy, Heather McPhail, our crazy Canadian lady, who always kept the spirits high with her infectious laugh, Alise Hjellbrekke from Norway, a great character who will one day be a fabulous engineer, Tamara Ladrière from Switzerland, who didn’t understand a thing Hayden was saying in his South-African accent, but kept on smiling and nodding. Then we have Leonard, the elephant technician, with his 20 years of knowledge in the industry and Fakasile, our lovely lady who made sure the camp and clothes were kept clean, who had to walk 6 kms every time to get to us.
We are all split up now, you can ask for certain reserves when you book your trip, I asked for Tembe, the Elephant Park and my 2nd project is Mkuze. Heather has spent 6 weeks working together with Wildlife Act and is on a plane back to Canada, Alise is off the game reserve Somkhanda, and Tamara is at the Zululand Rhino Reserve (ZRR).
Today was packing everything up and moving, our driver Vincent stopped off at this big viaduct on our way to Mkuze.
I’m now settled in my new accommodation, the room is big and I will be sharing it with one other female volunteer who’ll arrive tomorrow morning.
Mkuze is 40.000 hectares big, bigger than Tembe, a completely different type of reserve, here they focus foremost on the African Wild Dogs, they have a pack that consists of 26 dogs, which is massive. The problem is, that the dogs get out, they dig under the fence, although it’s an electric fence. So, we need to keep on getting them back as they do eat the livestock of the neighbours, which is obviously not good for a good harmonic relationship with the neighbours.
Camp is also a lot different, firstly it’s much smaller, more compact, which is nice, toilet and showers are still outside, but it’s at 20 meters from my room and the kitchen is just opposite. The biggest difference is that camp is not fenced, so the animals can come to our doorstep, and they do, so we are advised under no circumstances to go for a walk after dark.
We went out for an evening session, scanning for dogs. Mkuze has got 26 African Wild Dogs, and 15 of them have escaped to neighbouring land. One of the landowners has threatened that if he sees a dog, he’ll shoot them. Nice guy!
We went out to the southern border, camp is near the northern border, and tried locating them. The weather was dreadful, wind, rain and quite chilly for this time of year. There was a faint signal from the other side of the fence and we tried to ‘who’-call them. But the wind was blowing in the wrong direction, so we returned to camp without any results.
On the way to camp, we saw a hyena and a jackal crossing the road, unfortunately it was already dark, so I didn’t get a good visual. Did you know that hyenas kill for fun and not just as a food source?