Bush news from our volunteers at the Kariega Big Five Game Reserve

Posted by WorkingAbroad Projects on Wednesday, 12th March 2014

Kariega lions during a mating ritualOur Kariega wildlife conservation volunteers had a fantastically busy month.   February is our hottest month in the area and most of the work activities on the reserve took place under conditions with temperatures above 30 degree Celsuis.  Well done to everyone enduring the heat and still staying enthusiastic and performing so well!

Here are some of the February highlights of our Conservation Volunteer Programme on Kariega Game Reserve:

Our General Manager at Kariega, Alan Weyer, gave the volunteers a fasinating talk on the culture and history of the region around our beautiful reserve.  The interesting talk starts off with the Bushman and Khoi San in the area, followed by the Xhosas, the British settlers and the Dutch Farmers and how they fought for the land. The interactment of all these different cultures is what our colourful South African history are made up of today.  The volunteers all enjoyed this lecture thoroughly. 

This month we tried to include the smaller organisms in our focus area – often overlooked, but actually just as fasinating as the Big 5.  We went for several hikes; along a stream to a waterfall and along the cliffs and open plains.  Butterflies, frogs, crabs, dragonflies, beetles and spiders are just to mention a few that were identified.  Time was also spent learning about different tracks and dung.  Our February group certainly goes home with some valuable bushskills learnt.
February provided the volunteers with several amazing sightings.  A day that really stands out was the 19th February when we came across lions four different times during the course of the day.  What a privilege!  On the 25th of February we went on a night drive and found a solitary male lion on the open plains.  Whilst observing him closely, he roared so loudly that we could all feel our bones vibrating inside our bodies – quite an experience!  Some quality time was also spent with the elephant herd and a solitary bull this month.  Our elephant ID kit that we want to comply is coming along nicely although we still need identifying features on quite a few of the sub adults. 

Kariega Big Five Game volunteers do a bungee jump on their day offOur volunteers made great contributions when it came to bush control and managing invasive species, especially the Black Wattle (Acacia mearnsii), Pine (Pinus radiata) and Red-eyed wattle (Acacia cyclops).  Quite a lot of Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) was planted this month.  This miracle plant  carbon dioxide ten times better than the same square feet of rainforest would. 

Generally Friday afternoons are spent doing something fun and getting into the relaxed weekend mood.  This month was no different and it included going on a lovely boat cruise, canoeing or swimming in the Kariega river.  A definite highlight this month has been a weekend trip to Plettenberg bay with an adventure company.  Our volunteers did the highest bungee jump in the world, shark cage diving, snorkelled with seals and pyjama sharks, visited the Birds of Eden, and spent time on pristine beaches.  It’s wonderful to see a volunteer group making full use of all the awesome activities on offer in the area.

For the shortest month of the year, I would say we did and saw a lot of amazing stuff.  I can’t wait to see what the bush is going to bring us next month.  Until then!

Author: WorkingAbroad Projects

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