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PROJECTS

 

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Enkosini Eco Experience

volunteer project:

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INGWE PREDATOR PROJECT

(with safari to Kruger National Park)

Join our INGWE team and be involved with an exciting predator research project that is monitoring previously unseen behavior of wild leopards and other predators. Our project is based within a magnificent 15,000 acre wilderness reserve in Mpumalanga, South Africa. 

Authenticity is key to our operations. Whether assisting with much needed leopard research, or with wildlife and ecological conservation, our underlying ethos is one of providing a genuine and 'real' African bush experience.

Research

INGWE is a predator research project with the primary aim of gathering data on the density and behavior of leopards (Panthera pardus) outside formally protected areas (National Parks and Nature Reserves). The leopard is situated on the top of the food chain and will be the first species to decline, should anything go wrong regarding wild animal species within the system. Your primary role is that of gathering data on the density and behavior of leopards and other carnivores in predetermined research zones within our reserve.

 

Your group leader will provide you with training and ongoing development.  This training will encompass the following:

• Safety

• Enhancing bush senses

• Understanding large carnivore behaviours

• Bird and mammal identification

• Obtaining and recording data

• Wildlife tracking

• Camera trapping

 

Once training is completed, you will be actively involved with monitoring leopard behaviour:

• Setting, servicing and retrieving Camera Traps

• Identifying and recording spoor location

• Identifying and analysing carnivore scats

• Data input and analysis

• Radio telemetry tracking of any collared leopards

• Visual health checks of resident leopards

 

Setting, servicing and retrieving Camera Traps

We use camera traps extensively. Camera traps are motion-activated cameras that are set along game trails to take photographs of passing animals. There are inherent skills in using camera traps that you will be shown during practical exercises. Such that you are able to set and service cameras.

 

Identifying and recording spoor location

The spoor or footprint of each animal is much like a fingerprint and therefore we are able to identify a specific species and often the individual animal by observing its spoor. Methods for identifying and measuring and tracking leopard spoor will be taught during practical exercises. In addition we take plaster casts of all interesting spoor for use in individual ID kits

 

Identifying and analysing carnivore scats

Analyses of the scats (or droppings) of each animal provide information on the diet of that animal. The shape of scats is generally specific to each species, enabling species recognition.

 

Telemetry Tracking

Both GPS and VHF Tracking collars are utilised to monitor the movement of collared animals. The skills involved in tracking animals via radio telemetry will be taught during practical exercises.

 

Data input and analysis

All research data is compiled on a bespoke database for analysis by academic establishments.

 

Environmental Management

As part of our conservation work we support the Reserve Manager in some of the key environmental duties. These include:

• Alien plant eradication

• Bush clearing

• Soil erosion control

• Firebreaks

• Game Counts

• Fence line anti snare patroling

 

School Support Program

We actively support our local rural schools and research assistants will be encouraged to visit these schools with your team leader to assist with appropriate tasks as requested by the school principle. These tasks may include:

• Ad hoc admin support

• Basic IT training for teachers and pupils

• Sports coaching

• Conservation appreciation

 

Black Leopard Sightings

There have been a significant number of Black Leopard sightings in the Lydenburg area dating back to 1952. Although Black Leopards have been born in captivity, to date they have not be photographed or studied in the wild. It is intended to redouble efforts to photograph a Black Leopard to enable monitoring of this creature. Data gathered from its behavior as well as those individuals, with whom it is interacting, will contribute as an indication of the status of the leopards for that specific area.

 

Field Conditions

You will be accommodated at our conservation village. The campus comprises two bed permanent tents (shared bedrooms and bathrooms), set within a wooded area with central kitchen and communal rooms. Volunteers will responsible for the preparation of meals on a rotational basis. There will be plenty of opportunity for braais (BBQs) under the night skies and socializing around a fire.

Our base camp has been designed to blend sympathetically with the environment and operates on a carbon neutral basis. We can accommodate up to twelve students and researchers.

The working week with INGWE is from Tuesday to Sunday. Working hours depend on the season and may vary from 7 – 9 hours per day. The evenings are at leisure. Mondays are reserved for a town trip to Lydenburg, where volunteers can do their shopping, eat out, visit all the sites of the local towns.

 

Costs

4 weeks: GB£1195 / US$1995

Extra weeks: GB£245 / US$395 per week

 

Most volunteers also choose to enjoy a fantastic 3-day, 2-night camping safari to Kruger National Park (minimum of 6 volunteers).  This optional safari costs only $195 USD and includes everything (guide, transport, camping fees, daily conservation fees, etc) except meals in the Park.

 

Please Note:

Volunteers receive a $100 discount when joining multiple Enkosini programs.

Enkosini uses USD rates as standard due to currency fluctuations. GBP rates are indications of approx recent values. Currency convertor at www.xe.com.

 

Volunteer contributions cover meals, accommodation, activities, transfers from Lydenburg to Ingwe, and project donation. Flights and travel/medical insurance are NOT included. The only additional spending money required will be for personal purchases, social excursions away from Ingwe, and pre/post project travel.  We do not have discounted rates for partial weeks.

 

Please bear in mind that the sooner you apply, the better your chances of securing your placement!

 

Dates

The Ingwe team prefer volunteers to join for 4+ week schedules, starting every Monday. 

 

Travel / Transport

Volunteers take the Bushveld Link Shuttle on the Sunday before start date, departing directly from the Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport at 2:00pm and arriving into Lydenburg at 6:00pm (discounted rate of 220 ZAR for volunteers - www.bushveldlink.co.za). Volunteers must arrive into Johannesburg on Sunday by no later than 12:00pm as it can take some time to go through customs and collect your luggage.  

 

Volunteers spend Sunday night at The Manor Guesthouse (www.lydenburgmanorhouse.co.za) in Lydenburg (discounted rate of 360 ZAR, including dinner, bed and full English breakfast). The shuttle drop off at the guesthouse and Ingwe staff pick up from the guesthouse at 12pm on Monday to start the experience!

 

On the Monday departure, volunteers take the Bushveld Link Shuttle, departing Lydenburg at 7:45am, arriving Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport at 12:15pm.   

 

Off-schedule transfers will only be arranged when absolutely necessary and will cost R495 South African rands.

 

Training / Qualifications

Our programs are for anyone over eighteen years who has a passion for nature and wish to gain an in-depth knowledge about nature, ecology and wildlife. But moreover are immersed in the African bush.  

 

Program Co-ordinators

Program co-ordinators are responsible for each volunteer during their time at Ingwe from the time of arrival until departure. The program co-ordinators are the point of contact to allocate work projects, act as guide and tutor/mentor, and generally look after the volunteer’s welfare. 

 

Other

INGWE is based in a malaria-free area and there are no formal vaccination requirements for entering South Africa, however it is incumbent upon each person to get their own medical advice on vaccinations and on whether or not to follow a malaria prophylactic program (it is possible that volunteers may enter malarial zones during the safari to Kruger National Park).  See FAQs for complete packing list.

 

Testimonials

"My dream of seeing leopards has come true! For three days running from June 2nd to 4th, I have had the unparalleled experience of seeing Diamond Girl’s two leopard cubs playing, eating and even chasing game – or trying to, anyway.

 

The yet unnamed sister and brother can frequently be found in close proximity to one another. As Sister is bolder and more inquisitive, she was spotted first, by Dylan, as she was sitting up to see who was approaching with such a racket. It was Tara, Dylan and me in Tallulah – the green vintage Land Cruiser. Brother was close by and better concealed by the woodpile along the Big Dam. We watched as they played in the gathering dusk and then began tracking a warthog. We followed them as they went up the road, splitting up, reappearing and sauntering up the road. Brother crossed the drainage line and rested in splendour while eyeing us before disappearing into the brush. Once they decide to disappear, they blend so well into the grassy savannah that they cannot be seen and our search was futile.

 

The next day, while Tara and Dylan were on an errand to the Big Dam to refill the diesel generator which supplies our camp with water, they came tearing back to fetch me as they spotted the cubs again. This time it was Brother sunning himself by the water with sister was close by. Lucky for me that they came back to get me so I could participate in the chase. That evening we got lucky again as Sister was sitting under a tree by the dam to watch the impala. She eventually gave chase when the impala ran past her hiding place. She followed them up the dam run off and disappeared.

 

The third day, Brother was sitting pretty under the same tree by the dam at dusk. As we watched, he got up and sauntered off; disappearing into the savannah. Tara drove in the direction that he was heading when we spotted Sister under a tree. While we camped out in the truck to watch her movements, Brother arrived and pounced on her! This is a game that they play. Together they moved down the road, checking out the old kudu carcass and eventually ending up at the fresh impala kill stashed in the tree. Sister curled up in some brush for a snooze while Brother climbed the tree for a meal. We had followed and ended up 10 meters from where Sister was snoozing. The spotlight we used to see them did not faze them at all. Soon after Brother finished eating, he came down off the tree and was sniffing around when he heard a call, responded and ran off. Sister who had been snoozing rose, answered and headed in the same direction. Tara said that the alert response by both cubs meant Diamond Girl must have called them. She must have deposited them by the dam while she went hunting. We continued to look for them and eventually spotted the 3 leopards heading up the mountain. We found them by the reflection of the spotlight off their eyes."

-Shirley Chan, Canada

"A Lifetime’s Worth of Memories!! As part of my three month stay at the wildlife campus, I had the pleasure of spending 10 days training at the Ingwe Predator Project and oh, what an experience it was. I gained a wealth of knowledge from my guide, Mike, while we drove around the property spotting random trees, birds and stars. I had the opportunity to see my first African civet and genet.

I was even proud of myself because now I am able to spot leopard spoor from the Land Cruiser! To top off a wonderful 10 days, 7 of them were spent observing wild leopards! We were able to locate the family of 2 leopard cubs that are estimated to be just under a year old. We sat quietly (well, almost quietly) each morning and evening waiting for them to appear and – BINGO! I witnessed a male and female cub enjoying a lovely kudu for dinner night after night. The female has only one eye, but she is most precious and completely oblivious to our presence. She is curious more than anything.

As Tara and I began driving on Monday night, we stumbled upon what we believe is a third, female cub but she is more skittish than her siblings so we only caught a quick glimpse before she ran into the thick brush. Our camera traps have caught loads of pictures so we should be able to identify them easily and return to you with more details shortly. Also, it’s possible that Tara may have found a new sub-species of Golden Mole in our area but we’ll have the results back from the lab a little later."

-Toni Tsauro, Philadelphia

 

"Well, it finally happened! After three weeks of finding spoor, following tracks and getting excited about camera trap photos, we finally saw our first leopard. It was an amazing experience to see the young siblings and for them to remain so relaxed that we could sit and watch them for so long. We were with them for over an hour, watching them attempt a hunt, rest under the trees and finally walk away. Elated, we spent the rest of the morning walking on clouds and celebrated with a big unhealthy breakfast when we returned to camp. But as if that wasn’t enough, the afternoon game drive revealed that the young female leopard was still in the same area, giving everyone a great chance to see her. After waiting for the vehicles to leave, so we don’t overwhelm her, we thought we would have one more attempt before darkness fell. The most amazing moment was then to follow. The young female showed herself on the side of the road and instead of running away she sat down contently about 5 metres from our vehicle, just watching us as we were watching her. Unfortunately the sun was setting and our vision was becoming less clear, and after hearing another car she moved away from the road. Wanting to leave this as a positive experience for her, we left the area and gave her some space. After such a wonderful day, the champagne was popped in celebration!"

-Kelly Rainbow, Australia

 

 

 

To contact our South African office:

Enkosini Eco Experience

P.O. Box 1197, Lydenburg 1120, South Africa

E-mail: info@enkosini.com, Web: www.enkosini.com

 

To contact our US office:

Enkosini Eco Experience

4111 East Madison Street, Suite 76, Seattle, WA 98112, USA

Tel: +1.206.604.2664, Fax: +1.310.359.0269

E-mail: info@enkosini.com, Web: www.enkosini.com

 


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