Day in the Life of a Volunteer: First Month In

By 5 years ago
Categories Limpopo and KZN

The first few weeks have past and a lot of things have been done throughout both on the drives and the mountain expedition here at Karongwe. 

The first week was the training week, which means getting lectures about the different aspects of the game drives, the animals of the reserve and the communal society within GVI base and around. The days were scheduled with lectures first, after the lectures the volunteers go on afternoon drive to locate the focus animals, which are cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), lions (Panthera leo), leopards (Panthera pardus), elephants (Loxodonta africana), hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) and the rhinos (Ceratotherium simum).

When the night falls we start spotlighting! It is really awesome because you never know when you’ll find something crossing your path. You could find anything including bushbabies (Galago moholi), leopards, owls (Order: Strigiformes) and any other animals that are active during the night.

In the first week we visited Khamai Reptile Centre to learn about the different reptiles there are in South Africa and the difference between types of snakes (it’s the type of fangs it has!). We saw many different snakes but also lots of other reptiles and amphibians.

The second week I went up to the mountains. The entyre group went into town for shopping beforehand and after lunch in town it was off towards the mountains. The mountains are slightly different way of living then on the base. But there is a lot to be seen in the mountains, and lots of things to do so as well. The hiking, the experience, and the amount of different types of species you encounter makes it a ‘must to do’ thing.

During the mountain week you research different species of mice and shrews in different types of habitat, you get to see a lot of the mountains during the research and you get the ability to gain knowledge on how and where several species live and why these species live there, very cool to do research on.  Of course there is the most coolest thing to do, swimming in the Blyde Mountain River. It is an amazing experience and a good break for when it’s hot. View is fantastic beautiful and encountered a lot of butterfly species there. The week in the mountains is over before you know it, that’s how much there is to be done. The sunset up in the mountains is one of the things that can’t be forgotten at all.
Back at base, it’s just getting back in the rhythm of getting up early and going on drives immediately searching for animals. The drives can never stop amazing you, because you’ll always find something. If not for the focus animals you’ll find enough birds or encounter a lizard at sometimes. 

On the second drive after coming back from the mountains, we had an amazing sighting of a leopard which was just lying in the middle of the road.  The cheetahs were also seen very close several times, as were the lions (up to 3 metres maximum distance!).

This was so amazing seeing such a predator up close.

Every Tuesday there is a Community day, which means we visit a local school nearby and play games and teach mini-classes. This is such an amazing thing to do. All the kids are just happy to see you because you are going to teach them about a lion or an elephant. At the end of every 4-Week Phase the children come to base to get a short game drive to see one of the animals in real life instead of on pictures. 

We are so excited to have the new volunteers here, they have been lots of fun to get to know and talk with. Everyone gets along great! Can’t wait to see what the next 4-week expedition has in store for us!

—-Stephen Warnaar    24-week Long-Term Intern