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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 
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SPECIES SURVIVAL CONSERVATION PROJECT - NOW COMPLETED

SOUTH AFRICA

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THE RARE AND THREATENED SPECIES RESEARCH program where our volunteers assisted in alleviating dangers to threatened species - NOW COMPLETED.

FINAL REPORT AND RESULTS

"We would like to thank Travellers Worldwide for your continued support the past three years by placing close to 40 volunteers on the project. I went through my records yesterday and was scrolling through all the electronic files with Travellers volunteer names on, and thought back on all the FANTASTIC memories of the past three years with all of them. This was only possible because of Travellers and for this we cannot thank you enough!"

Travellers would like to express their immense gratitude to our volunteers for their help on this project - they really made a difference!

We would also like to thank the Project Manager, Xander Combrink, and Project Facilitator, Samantha Terblanche, for looking after our volunteers so well and teaching them so much.

And last but certainly not least, on behalf of the animals and ecosystems of South Africa, our thanks to everyone involved in this project - without you, their lives and their very existence would be far less safe!

FINAL REPORT AND RESULTS - EPILOGUE:

The Travellers Worldwide Species Survival project, which started in July 2003, has recently finished its volunteer component, although the fieldwork will still continue in a different format. 

The results reflect the efforts of a multi-disciplinary team from the Wildlands Conservation Trust, Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife, 11 scientific mentors and almost 40 Travellers volunteers in collaboration with the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park Authority and the management of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park.

The main aim of the project was to update information on the less charismatic, yet equally important, rare, threatened and endemic species found within the Park through a synthesis of existing information as well as standardised fieldwork to record new distribution points for as many as possible target species. 

Project staff and Travellers volunteers spent much time collecting data in the field.  The Park is very large and the taxa are diverse, making the collection of adequate quality data challenging.  Apart from collating historical records, the project surveyed all the representative habitats of the Park through 14 sample transects.  As a result of the cryptic nature of many priority survey species, their presence and distribution were recorded through live trapping and active searches.  Specimens were recorded with a Geographic Positioning System (GPS) and identifications were confirmed by taxonomic specialists, often by scull measurements, dentition, digital photographs, sound recordings, the study of skins and DNA.

New records found during the fieldwork include one species, the Rufous Mouse-eared Bat (Myotis bocagei) for the province of KwaZulu-Natal, 28 for the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, 130 additions to the World Heritage Schedules, recordings of 22 species which significantly extend the known distributions in the Park as well as numerous recordings of more than 80 rare, threatened and/or endemic species throughout the Park. 

The project has recorded and submitted more than 2 000 records of species, made with a GPS in the Park, to the Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Biodiversity database.  This is a 23 % increase in the number of distribution points for the Park in only three years. 

This information is also contributing to the South Africa Reptile Conservation Assessment and will in future play an important role in the South African National Spider Survey.

Rare, threatened and endemic species lists, species checklists, species data sheets and distribution maps were distributed to Park managers and other interested and affected parties for the following taxonomic groups: Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Fish, Butterflies, Fruit chafers, Dragonflies/Damselflies, Spiders, trees, Flowering plants and Orchids.  

Various media activities and releases were made, including newspaper and magazine articles, radio and local and international television programmes, for instance two inserts (Gaboon Viper and Crocodiles) on Michaela’s Wildlife Challenge, a popular UK television show with a strong conservation message. 

Part of the mission of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park is managing and protecting the ecosystems and biodiversity according to stringent standards in line with those of the South African government and the Unesco’s World Heritage Commission.  During the past three years this project in partnership with the Wildlands Conservation Trust, Travellers Worldwide and their volunteers, has played an important part in working towards that goal.

Xander Combrink
PROJECT MANAGER

A personal note from Xander to Travellers:
On behalf of myself and Dr Scotty Kyle (Project Leader), we would like to thank Travellers Worldwide for your continued support the past three years by placing close to 40 volunteers on the project.  I went through my records yesterday and was scrolling through all the electronic files with Travellers volunteer names on, and thought back on all the FANTASTIC memories of the past three years with all of them.  This was only possible because of the Wildlands Conservation Trust and Travellers and for this we cannot thank you enough!  Every one of them has played an important part in helping us to learn more about the area's unique biodiversity 

I'm still in contact via SMS/TEXT or e-mail with many of the volunteers and will try to keep up with what's happening in their respective lives. No doubt some of them will find their way back to the shores of St Lucia and the wonderful natural heritage that is conserved within the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park.

Full Report of this Project:
If you'd like to read the full report on this project (Handbook on the Rare, Threatened and Endemic Species of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park), please click here to download the .pdf file (5.1 mb)

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A volunteer working on the Species Survival Project, with juvenile crocodiles

Transporting an adult crocodile

Got any questions? Please email us:
info@travelersworldwide.org

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