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Learn a new skill and help educate local communities about conservation on this volunteering photography and wildlife conservation project. You will spend a month in the breath-taking Greater Lucia Wetland Park in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, where herds of hippos, rhinos & elephants have made their home alongside over 520 species of birds.
The focus of this project is entirely on conservation and nature. You will spend four weeks volunteering in one of South Africa’s finest national parks, photographing the wildlife and raising awareness about conservation in the local community.
This wildlife conservation volunteering project is run by the award-winning African volunteering specialists African Impact, the largest on-the-ground facilitator and operator of responsible volunteer projects in Africa.
You will be working in the Greater Lucia Wetland Park, otherwise known as the Simangaliso Park, on the East coast of KwaZulu Natal. The park is a designated UNESCO world heritage site and is an ecosystem comprising savannah, marsh, wetlands and beaches, making for an incredibly diverse habitat. There are over 520 species of birdlife to be found here as well as the largest hippopotamus population in any of South Africa’s parks. Other animals resident here include rhinos, elephants, buffalo, leopards, crocodiles, humped back whales and many different insect species as well.
You will spend your mornings out in the field photographing some of these magnificent birds, mammals and insects in their natural habitats. At lunchtime you will return to your guest accommodation where you will eat your meal and catch up with your fellow volunteers. Afternoons will be spent contributing to a local wildlife conservation project including helping to build a database of wildlife images, teaching the importance of conservation at local community centres or taking children on an educational field trip into the bush. You will return back to your base for dinner and afterwards may choose to take a dip in the pool or go for a drink with your fellow volunteers.
It goes without saying that you need to be passionate about wildlife and conservation in order to enjoy this project. Having said that, you don’t need to have a doctorate in zoology or be the next David Attenborough to participate. Prior to going out into the field, you will attend an intensive three day induction course where you will be trained in the art of photography and will also learn all about the conservation projects that you will be involved with
I had a wonderfully warm welcome in St Lucia. The volunteer house where I stayed was spacious and all the staff friendly and helpful. The food was also very good and the cook catered for all our needs. Being a more mature person, I was concerned whether there would be a range of ages amongst the volunteers and I was pleasantly surprised that there were people of all ages from different parts of the world.
I was one of three people on the photographic and conservation project and this started with a fantastic but intensive 3 days with a professional wildlife photographer who was inspiring and great fun. The programme was well organised and there was always plenty to do from game drives, bush walks, volunteering at the Crocodile centre, visiting the other projects in the local village such as the Creche and orphanage and of course editing all those photos. The area is fantastic with many different eco-systems from beautiful beaches, sand dunes, lake and wetland etc. I also enjoyed the conservation project in the local village and with the local High school where we helped the children create a garden and build a compost. The local people were very welcoming and very happy to have our support.
There were great opportunities for weekends away too and I went to Kosi Bay and saw turtles hatching and also to Mozambique swimming with dolphins, but you could also relax at the house and pool and explore St Lucia.
I had wished that I had not been a complete beginner in photography as I feel I would have gained much more from the 3 days with the photographer and on reflection I would have chosen to do a course or two before embarking on the trip. Also for me as a beginner it was a slight
frustration that there was only a limited amount of photographic support for the rest of the month.
Overall though I had a fantastic time, met some wonderful people, saw some amazing wildlife and took a some great photos. I would rate my experience at 4.5 out of 5.
Judy reviewing Wildlife Photography volunteering holiday in South Africa
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