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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 

Volunteers' Stories

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ZOE TREVETT
British

Care for Animal in a Wildlife Sanctuary Voluntary Project on the Garden Route, South Africa
         

I am so pleased I did the placement and wish I was still there!! Thank you so much for arranging everything, it all seemed to go very smoothly. I feel I have gained a better understanding of how animals function in the wild and how nature affects the balance. I have learnt how to care for animals but also when to and when not to fear them. I have learnt how to adapt to situations and to fit in with systems but also how to make suggestions of improvements where appropriate.

The best thing was definitely the people that I met, both in terms of the volunteers and the hosts. Sandy and Percy were so hospitable and make us feel so welcome and a part of the family. The care and attention to the animals is excellent and they work so hard to make sure the enclosures are the best they can be given with the funds available. I was pleased with the amount of contact there was with the animals, aside from the obvious ones which you couldn't interact with. There was a good balance between work and play and a good variety of activities.

I would definitely recommend this placement to others, I absolutely loved my time there and was extremely sad to leave again. I would definitely go back myself. I think it would suit someone who loves all types of animals and is interested in their welfare. Someone who is perhaps worried about being away from home, as the wildlife sanctuary is basically a home from home. I feel as if I have an extended family now!

Volunteers do need to be flexible as jobs do change and they may need to contribute with ideas and have the enthusiasm to drive a project through. There are so many jobs that need doing that it is sometimes hard to know which is the priority. And lastly, someone who absolutely isn't afraid to get dirty (oh and who isn't afraid of spiders!)

Can you describe a typical day?

 Start work at 7am, where you can usually decide if you want breakfast then or if you want to wait for a break later on. You have full use of the kitchen. The morning feed is the priority of the day, so the next 3 hours are very busy (depending on how many volunteers are present).

The birds are crucial, as food left over from the previous day can make them ill if not changed over early in the morning. Early morning cleaning and checking of the bird cages will often leave you with some casualties, which need to be cleared away asap. Cages are also checked for holes in the netting and you need to be aware of any birds that have become ill overnight.

Food preparation is kept separate from the cleaning of cages, so groups will be split. One team will clean cages in preparation for feeding, and the other group will prepare food. Feeding of the food will be done by whoever finishes first! After the feed, the kitchen must be cleaned as well as the restaurant area. By 9am, floors must be swept and toilets cleaned, ready for any visitors to the park. Once food and cleaning is done, the rest of the day is pretty much allocated for other duties, such as building work, either of cages or accommodation, fences need to be checked on the game park, or basically anything else that needs ticking off the "to do" list!

Percy will often drop off a team into the game park and they will either walk the fence back home, checking for holes or they may sit out on the game park and check the animals and do a count of stock. The game park is very safe to wander around but you must be in a team. Back at the restaurant, someone will usually be asked to stay behind and man the restaurant, letting in visitors or taking food orders, answering phones etc. This is usually a good time to check food supplies for both the animals and humans, as they will need to be given warning as to when stocks are low. Trips to town for supplies can be accompanied if possible.

Lunch breaks are usually between 1-2pm, depending on what you are doing that day. Tea breaks as and when you need them. There is an afternoon feed at 3pm, which may only require 2 volunteers and is only for the birds, as they need fresh food to see them through the night. A quick check in the cages is necessary to make sure everyone is looking healthy. This is also the time when meat is supplied for tomorrows feed and must be collected from other workers on the farm and packed away.

Your duties are finished at 4pm, and you can then do as you wish. Usually you will want a good hot shower and scrub up for dinner! Dinner is usually prepared by Sandy and served around 6pm. After dinner, we usually sit with the family in the restaurant area and either watch TV, or talk about the days activities, or even play games. Sandy and Percy are more than happy for the company as they are very young at heart! We tended to go to bed around 8 - 9pm, simply because we were feeling pretty tired after the day’s activities and also because of an early start!

More Information about your Trip with Travellers

List of ALL PROJECTS in South Africa
ANIMAL SANCTUARY Projects in South Africa
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Zoe with a Linx

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