This is Zululand, not Disneyland!

“This is Zululand, not Disneyland!” so says Wildlife Act….

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Lots of people have asked about our upcoming plans, so here’s a little info on what we have planned for August, September and October 2014.

We’ll be leaving England at the end of July, and heading for Johannesburg, South Africa. We’ll spend a few days there, getting over jetlag, and meeting up briefly with old friends, what a lovely start!

Then we head out to the bush! We’ll be volunteering with Wildlife Act, probably on two of their game reserves.

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They’ve told us we’ll be working at Mkhuze first. Here’s a little background from their website:

“The Mkhuze Game Reserve recently reached “Big 5″ status, due to the very recent re-introduction of Lions to the Reserve. The Reserve offers an abundance of wildlife, including endangered species such as Black Rhino, Cheetah, African Wild Dog and Vultures. Other animals to be found in the Reserve include: Lions, Leopard, Hyaena, Jackal, Elephant, White Rhino, Buffalo, Giraffe, Blue Wildebeest, Zebra, Bushpig, Warthog, Chacma Baboons, Vervet Monkeys, Honey Badgers, Mongoose and various antelope species including Waterbuck, Kudu, Nyala, Impala, Duiker, Steenbok and Suni. There are also a wide variety of Tortoises, Terrapins, Snakes and Lizards.”……

“Mkhuze has recently re-introduced lions onto the reserve and the impact this is having on other species is being carefully monitored.  Wildlife ACT are proud to be assisting Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the park management authority, with the two daily monitoring sessions focusing on African wild dog, Lion and Serval. During these monitoring sessions, any sightings of other endangered and priority species including Cheetah, Vultures, Rhino, Elephant and Leopard are also recorded.”

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After our first month volunteering in South Africa, we’ll spend a week relaxing in Cape Town. Then we’ll move on to Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, where we’ll be helping out in various ways. Some of the things we might get involved in are:

“Elephants: assist with early morning training of the elephants, cleaning and preparation of elephant boma in mornings and evenings; assistance with the Meerkat Research Project: collecting field data on a daily basis, morning and late afternoon visits to the burrows, keeping a video diary of the meerkat colonies for behavioral research; and general data collection of the various animals and birds on the reserve.”

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We then move back to Cape Town for a few more days, and prepare to meet the Great White Sharks! We’ll be working with Aviva and Marine Volunteers, on the Great White Shark project in Kleinbaai in Gansbaai, just south of Cape Town.

“We research the feeding, migrating and behavioural habits as well as various other aspects of the Great Whites by recording sightings, tagging, dorsal fin identification and taking thousands of photos for an ongoing data base in conjunction with various national and international academic and research institutions. Their superior immune system and wound healing capabilities, parasites found on sharks, as well as their interaction with other marine species, are part of the comprehensive and ongoing research.”  We also hope to have the opportunity to do a cage dive with the sharks. So exciting!

In October, we’ll be moving to Betty’s Bay,

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staying with our friends Janine and Bill, who we met in Austin, Texas, on our trip across the US. We’ll be relaxing in Betty’s Bay, which is part of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, and also do some travelling with Bill and Janine along the beautiful Garden Route, visiting Addo Elephant Park and the Cango Caves

At the end of October, we’ll fly back to England, and plan to spend Christmas with family and friends, for the first time in many years. After that…. Who knows?! There’s a lot of world out there!

We’ll try to post updates while we’re in South Africa, but we may not have reliable, or any, internet service – we’re in the bush!

We are so much looking forward to this experience, and hope you’ll come on the journey with us.

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