Wildlife Research and Small Mammal Care

Company : Conservation Travel Africa
Activities: Community Volunteer Projects / Animal Volunteer Projects / Conservation Volunteer Projects / Wildlife Tours
Country: Zimbabwe
Location : Africa
Duration: 2 weeks to 3 weeks
Approx Costs: 1250 to 2000 $ Dollars (US)

Get practical wildlife conservation experience and enjoy life on a working research station. Assist researchers, care for rare antelope species and help with the Trust’s environmental education programme. A rare opportunity to help a respected Wildlife Trust in Africa.

This Wildlife Trust is a well established not-for-profit wildlife research trust which carries out research and conservation work on three main groups: small African antelopes, carnivores - primarily cheetah - and the African rhinoceros.

This volunteer programme is ideally suited to anyone who is looking to improve their knowledge of wildlife conservation as well as getting hands on experience of life at a working research station. You will get the opportunity to assist permanent researchers in their projects, help look after the small antelope used for field research and assist with the Trust’s environmental education programme. In addition you will experience the work that the Trust does in wild rhino conservation, which is supported by Save the Rhino International.

This programme is a real opportunity to help with a working wildlife trust and get first-hand experience of the workings of a field conservation Trust in Africa.

Highlights

- Ideal for anybody interested in furthering their knowledge and understanding of field conservation 
- Get involved with the Trust’s small antelope research projects which present a rare opportunity to get close to small, shy animals you wouldn’t normally see 
- Help children to understand the importance of biodiversity and environmental protection and help them pursue a career in conservation 
- Have the opportunity to accompany project staff on field trips into the magnificent Matopos National Park

Activities and Projects

Field research 

Small antelopes have been identified as being a relatively little-known group requiring further research. This project conducts surveys for antelope in the Matopos National Park and monitor population numbers and distribution. The Trust also researches the abundance of other large mammals, including rhino, across the Matopos Hills in order to pinpoint the key areas and resources used by these animals. Volunteers will get involved with: 

- Accompanying project staff on field trips to the Matopos 
- Assisting with cataloging photographs from camera traps
- Assist with data capture and collation

Antelope Research 

The Bulawayo field station is the Trust’s base for small antelope research and has a captive population of duikers (Africa’s smallest antelope species), steenbok, grysbok and suni. These animals are kept in areas designed to be near natural conditions and form the basis of scientific research carried out by full time members of staff. Volunteers will assist with the care of the animals to facilitate the research: 

- Assisting in data collection and collation
- Feeding of animals 
- Cleaning of pens

Land and station management 

Volunteers will help to restore the land where the station is situated back to its natural state to preserve the rich wildlife found in the area. Volunteers will assist with: 

- Dealing with bush encroachment 
- Removal of alien and invasive species 
- Planting of indigenous trees

In addition the station aims to be self-sustaining for the staff and captive animals so volunteers will assist in the vegetable gardens where food is grown for the antelope and people!

Education and outreach

Our Community Monitoring Project teaches teenagers to record and monitor key species and their environment during their daily activities, such as walking to and from school. This generates data for assessing the distribution of species while raising awareness of conservation issues to secondary school children. Volunteers will get involved with:

- Helping the Educational Field Officer in the delivery of this programme
- Assisting project staff with running sessions for school conservation clubs

Cheetah Research

Volunteers will get involved in research into cheetah, particularly how the ecology and behaviour of cheetahs vary between commercial ranches and resettled farms. This is being investigated using GPS collars, spoor transects and local interviews. A cheetah education programme has also been initiated to try and alleviate conflict between humans and cheetah. 

Rhino conservation

The Trust plays a big role in the co-ordination of rhino management operations in the Matopos National Park. These operations may involve the translocation of rhino, marking rhino with unique identifiers, placing tracking devices to help facilitate better monitoring and protection of rhino by Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Department rangers. Volunteers may get the opportunity to participate in some of these activities depending on the time of year and activities planned.

Start Dates

Flexible start dates - Monday's preferred.

Costs / Benefits

Costs include all accommodation, food, soft drinks (tea, coffee, juice etc) and activities while on the project. The cost also includes return bus transfers from Harare (approximately 5 hours).
The cost excludes flights, visa fees, travel insurance (required) and alcoholic beverages.

Requirements

No specific qualifications are required but volunteers must have a good grasp of spoken English and an interest in wildlife conservation. A good level of general fitness is also required as there is some walking and foot-based tracking involved in the project.

Booking / Enquiry

Booking Enquiry Visit Website

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