Tuesday, December 29, 2009

'Volunteering' at UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve

The UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve, situated in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, is a 5,000 hectare reserve comprised of three farms, Gevonden, Geluk and Vertrek.

The reserve encompasses a wide range of habitats from bushveld to mountainous terrain. A number of species inhabit the reserve, including kudu, impala, mountain reedbuck and black-backed jackal and several species have been released including giraffe, zebra, blesbok, red hartebeest, waterbuck, common reedbuck, nyala and white rhino.

Action for the Wild is currently offering placements at UmPhafa Reserve, in particular to those seeking to gain experience before pursuing a career in conservation. This will not be a glorified safari and successful applicants will be shadowing the research coordinators as their assistants, to collect valuable data necessary to make key management decisions. This in itself is much more fulfilling than simply visiting Africa as a tourist and research assistants will have the satisfaction of being close to the animals and knowing that their contribution is having a direct influence on the wellbeing of the fauna of UmPhafa Reserve.

This is an opportunity to gain valuable experience in the field and learn new skills from qualified staff members over a wide range of aspects involved in the running of a reserve. Days will be varied with duties including the conduction of behavioural observations on game species, as well as aiding the current research projects in order to complete the species list of the reserve and to monitor populations.

At certain times in the year, vegetation surveys will be an important undertaking, as will the general maintenance of the reserve’s roads, fences and structures. The programme is open to anybody with a genuine love of nature and the environment, in particular African ecosystems.

As competition is expected to be high for these positions, placements will be offered following a successful interview process, which will be held at Colchester Zoo.

The minimum age of prospective research assistants is 20 years by the time of deployment to UmPhafa. Due to limited facilities, the maximum number of available positions is 4 placements at any one time.

The minimum period of stay is 4 weeks with a maximum of 90 days and, after successful application, dates of deployment will be allocated based on the applicant’s preferred month of commencement.

A contribution of £1,000 for stays of four weeks, with an additional contribution of £500 per four weeks thereafter, will be required to a maximum of a total 12 week period of stay. If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact Rebecca Perry, Director of Conservation, Education and Research at Colchester Zoo on rebecca.perry@colchester-zoo.co.uk  for more details.

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