SIYAFUNDA ENDANGERED SPECIES PROJECT
Lowveld, Limpopo, South Africa
The Siyafunda Endangered Species Project will allow you to participate with on the ground, hands on monitoring of some of Africa’s endangered species: rhino, cheetah and southern ground hornbill.
It is ideal if you want to truly experience the “wild” side of Africa. The camp is based in a Limpopo game reserve which is home to the 'Big 5'. This means you will get to encounter, and live with, elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo while working with us.
You will also learn basic bush survival skills and how to navigate your way through the African bush!
During your stay, you will spend a lot of time on foot walking through the reserve, learning how to track the animals. You will be approaching endangered species on foot and recording their behaviour, location and condition. You will, quite literally, be walking in their footsteps!
The information collected is then used by the reserve management and anti-poaching teams, as well as national conservation efforts to help save these species. You will also take part in vehicle based monitoring to see the amazing Big 5, as well as habitat work to help with the monitoring process.
This is a unique experience for people who want to get more out of visiting a game reserve in South Africa. Everyone who joins on this exciting program will get to experience the African bush in its extremes, from elephants strolling through camp to the tropical heat or the surprisingly cold winter nights.
If you have a love of nature and want to participate in helping to save Africa's endangered species, this is the project for you. Come enjoy the simple life and let the bush seep into your soul!
Siyafunda Endangered Species project has a minimum duration of 1 week.
The project start day is every Monday throughout the year, with volunteers being collected from Hoedspruit.
Typical Project Schedule
Monday: Project start day. Town trip to collect new volunteers and restock supplies
Tuesday—Friday: Mornings will consist of monitoring drives and walks to locate the key endangered species: rhino and cheetah. You will learn how to identify and age their tracks and how to record this information.
Once the animals have been located you will monitor their behaviour, environment and interactions in order to better understand them. Meanwhile, you will also learn how to track other big game such as elephant, lion and hyena in order to better understand utilisation of the areas covered. At all times you will also be on the lookout for potential sightings and nest sites of the Southern Ground Hornbill.
On return to camp, you will check through the data for accuracy ready for syncing. You'll also get the chance to work through your bush knowledge with the various reference books on offer.
In the afternoons, you will set out on monitoring drives in order to cover more ground to determine new areas to locate rhino, cheetah and southern ground hornbill. Once signs of activity and tracks have been located you will continue on foot to discover more. Whilst driving through the reserve you will also get the chance to see some of our other resident Big 5—elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo.
On Friday afternoon, your drive will meet up with the Siyafunda Research group for a sleep out under the stars.
Saturday: In the morning you will help out with some habitat work, either bush clearing, river clean up, erosion control or road maintenance. On return from the afternoons monitoring drive you will sit around the fire and take part in a typical South African braai (BBQ).
Sunday: You will have a relaxed off morning with the chance to check through data, input camera trap images and discuss the weekly sightings and completed objectives. In the afternoon you will go out on a monitoring drive for the key species and enjoy a sundowner out in the bush before returning to camp.
Cost (2022 Rates)
1 week $650
2 weeks $1250
3 weeks $1825
4 weeks $2375
Additional weeks at $550 per week
All Meals Included
Min Stay 7 Nights (Monday arrival)
Age 18+ Unless with a Parent/Guardian
- Transfers for arrival and departure on a Monday to/from Hoedspruit, Limpopo
- Linen (except towels)
- Training from Qualified Rangers
- All Monitoring and Conservation Activities
- Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner (excludes own snacks, soft drinks and alcohol)
Your home during your stay will be in our eco-friendly tented camp set amongst the trees which overlooks a water course. There are large, comfortable twin share tents set on raised platforms, ensuring each has its own unique view of the African bush!
There are shared ablution facilities with flushing toilets and bush showers. All meals are cooked by the group. Your evenings will be spent hearing tales from your experienced ranger, listening to the sounds of the bush, before you fall asleep under the African sky.
With the ever present threat from poaching, close monitoring of these animals is crucial for the future of the species. The rhinos are monitored to ascertain their movement around the reserve and interaction with each other. This is done mostly on foot due to their secretive nature. This also forms part of the anti-poaching measures in place, working closely with the reserve management and anti-poaching teams on the reserve to ensure 100% sighting and safeguarding of our rhino. The Siyafunda projects also work closely with The Rhino Protection Trust www.rhinoprotectiontrust.com to raise awareness and funds to support our efforts to save these magnificent but vulnerable animals.
As cheetah are one of Africa's most endangered large predators, the entire population is monitored on the reserve. By tracking the cheetah on foot, we can observe their utilisation of the area, prey selection and reproductive behaviour. By combining this with data collected on other predators we can track the effects on distribution patterns of the cheetah by the presence of lions, hyena and leopards. With dedicated, long term monitoring we can be sure to effectively understand their lives and better protect them for future generations.
African Wild Dog Monitoring
African Wild Dogs are the second most endangered carnivore in Africa (the first being the Ethiopian Wolf). There are a couple of packs that come through the reserve and it is important to ID and monitor them when they do make an appearance.
It is always a very special day when they spend some time on the reserve!
Game Drives & Foot Patrols
Game drives are a great way of covering distance within the reserve in order to see the larger African wildlife, observing their behaviour, movements and habits along the way. After dark, they also enable the possibility of sighting the nocturnal animals such as African civet, black-backed jackal, large spotted genet, porcupine and aardvark to name but a few.
Monitoring walks also allow you to walk, quite literally, in the footsteps of the animals you are tracking. You will learn how to identify the tracks of the animals you are monitoring, as well as any others they may have been following, or following them! By determining age and direction of the tracks you will be able to help determine territory and, with any luck, current location.
As well as monitoring the endangered species, you will also be taught basic survival techniques and how to navigate your way through the bush. Our experienced rangers will show you some practical bush skills, Identifying tracks and signs left by animals, how to track animals, as well as identifying the myriad tree and plant species.
During your experience here, you will also get to enjoy a sleep out under the stars. You will set up camp in the bush and cook over an open fire. After a delicious Potjie (a typical South African dish), you will take turns on night watch to guard the camp while the others are sleeping. Nothing beats falling asleep under the stars while listening to the distant lion roar and whooping of hyenas.
Alien Vegetation Control: Under the guidance of Working for Water (WFW), volunteers will assist with identifying and monitoring stands of alien and invasive vegetation within the river and across the reserve. Volunteers will participate in the mechanical removal and chemical control of these species as well as the follow-up monitoring of problem areas. This is an important project as alien invasive plants have the ability to encroach on areas and prevent other indigenous plants from growing, as well as using up large amounts of moisture from the soil. This has a detrimental effect on your ecosystem and therefore requires constant monitoring and removal.
Habitat Rehabilitation: Volunteers will have the opportunity to assist in ongoing habitat rehabilitation initiatives in the reserve, including erosion control, the construction of rock gabions, brush-packing and re-seeding.