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Kariega Conservation Volunteers: Feb 2014

Jone Haesslich
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February update from Kariega Conservation Volunteer programme 

The Kariega Conservation Volunteers had a fantastic and busy month. February is the hottest time of the year and temperatures were mostly above 30 degrees Celsius. Well done to everyone for enduring the heat and still staying enthusiastic and performing so well!

Kariega Conservation Volunteers Feb2014

Here are some of the February highlights from the Conservation Volunteer Programme at Kariega Game Reserve:

Our General Manager at Kariega, Alan Weyer, gave the volunteers a fascinating talk on the culture and history of the region around our beautiful reserve. The interesting talk included information about the Bushman and Khoi San, the isiXhosa, the British settlers and the Dutch farmers and how they fought for the land. The interaction of all these different cultures is what makes us a colourful South African nation today. The volunteers all thoroughly enjoyed the talk.

We included various smaller organisms in our studies. These are often overlooked but are just as fascinating as the Big 5. We went for several hikes; along a stream to a waterfall and along the cliffs and open plains and identified various butterflies, frogs, crabs, dragonflies, beetles and spiders. We also spent time learning about different tracks and dung. Our February group will certainly go home with some valuable bushskills.

February also provided the volunteers with several amazing sightings. A day that really stands out was the 19 February when we came across lions four different times. What a privilege! On the 25 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 is coming along nicely although we still need to define key identifying features on quite a few of the sub-adults.

Our 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.

Generally Friday afternoons are spent doing something fun and getting into the relaxed weekend mood. This month was no different and we enjoyed going on a lovely boat cruise, canoeing and swimming in the Kariega river. We also really enjoyed our weekend trip to Plettenberg Bay with a local adventure company. Some of the volunteers did the highest bungee jump in the world, went 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.

Kariega Conservation Volunteers Bungy Feb2014

Kariega Conservation Volunteers Coast Feb2014

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!