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The ACE Team
The ACE team take pride in supporting each and every volunteer from the initial application process right through to the departure of a lifetime, and throughout your placement. We also enjoy keeping in touch with everyone on your return, ensuring you are settling back into normal life, and hear all your stories about your volunteering experience. As a passionate and dedicated team both in southern Africa and based in the office, we are always on the end of the telephone to ensure your experience fulfils your expectations and is everything you wished for.
UK and US Team
When you apply for a placement you will speak to one of the following members of the team. From zoologists to passionate conservationists, a team with extensive knowledge of travel and our projects, we look forward to chatting to you.
“Once you have booked a placement, I will be on hand to look after any questions you may have in the run up to your placement and ensure you receive your placement details and departure packs before you embark on your experience of a lifetime.
Having travelled extensively over the past 20 years, I have been fortunate to have seen many fascinating and exciting countries including colourful and vibrant India, the wonderful orangutans of Borneo and the amazing marine life of Mexico. Each destination can often be life changing and when I look back on my travels it never fails to bring a smile to my face and desire to reach out and explore another territory. Travel is in my heart and soul and I am equally passionate about the experience of each volunteer.”
“I coordinate all marketing events for ACE and generally love spreading the word about the fabulous projects we work with.
When I was 17 I had the amazing opportunity to attend an international school in Swaziland for 2 years. The entire time was a huge eye opener exposing me to lives and environments that were so different to how I had grown up. One thing that blew me away was the breathtaking beauty of Africa - those sweeping big bush landscapes, the warm colours, searing sunsets - and of course Africa's wildlife. I could spend hours watching the slow motion of giraffes or the brilliance of colourful little lizards scuttling over warm rocks. And absolutely nothing beats sleeping out in the bush and hearing the sounds of nocturnal wildlife coming to life! By the time I graduated I was too deeply in love with Africa to go back home - so I stayed on for another few years and worked. I eventually moved on to work and study in Asia, Australia and Europe, but it is true what they say about first love...In joining ACE I now get to contribute to preserving the wildlife and habitats that captivated me so much - and I have the opportunity to help other people go to Africa for their very own life-changing experience!”
When you apply for a placement with ACE worldwide, I will help you through the process and get you booked onto your African adventure! I will talk you through all the project info to help you decide on the right placement for you.
“Having only recently completed my BSc in Zoology I have been lucky enough to travel throughout my studies. My first stop in my gap year in 2008 was South Africa! I have always been captivated by the magnificent beauty of African Wildlife and my time out there more than lived up to expectations. There is nothing more exhilarating than watching a pack of painted wild dogs block your path, wait in suspense to see if a herd of elephants are ready to charge your way or listen at night to hyenas laughing just metres away from your tent! After this my passion grew and I have since been to Bali to research dolphin behaviour, habitat and the effect of tourism on the populations. My dissertation then took me around Europe where I collected data on swarming bat species. My heart will always lie with Africa, so I am thrilled to be part of ACE and passionate about conserving wildlife whilst providing volunteers with the opportunity to create their own memorable experiences!”
I oversee the marketing and operations of ACE and ensure African Conservation Experience fulfils our missions and conservation goals, while continuing to meet strict operating guidelines to ensure a sustainable approach to conservation, and the highest standards of safety for our volunteers.
“Prior to joining ACE in 2005, I worked as a Primate and Large Mammal Keeper and spent a year and a half working as an Equine Nurse. Following my BSc in Zoology, my passion for wildlife stemmed a career focussed on supporting conservation projects in situ and I have been privileged to be surrounded by the low grumblings of a happy gorrila group and the low rumblings of an elephant herd deep in the African bush. Conservation and travel is a passion of mine, and I have been lucky enough to be involved in conservation projects worldwide. Joining a local team in Honduras, working on reforestation of a cloud forest, inspired my interest in sustainable approaches to promote development within local communities. I have first hand experience of the often challenging and intensely rewarding experience of volunteering in southern Africa and am passionate about ensuring we can provide this opportunity for others!”
"If you are joining us from the US, Canada or South America I will talk you through the projects that you could work with and help you set up a placement. I also travel around the US to give talks about volunteering with ACE.
I have found very few things in life that are as transformative and worthwhile as traveling in Africa, where the landscape is as varied as the human and wildlife diaspora. I lived and worked in east Africa as a wildlife management student in college and Peace Corps volunteer before obtaining a graduate degree in geography. I count these experiences in Africa as the most challenging and rewarding things I have ever done. Studying with conservation professionals in Kenya and working alongside subsistence farmers in Tanzania changed the way I thought of wildlife management, and the role of local communities in habitat preservation. What you see in your volunteer experience will shape the way you look at the world and I feel very lucky to work for a company that provides these opportunities to volunteers. My favorite places in the world are Jinja (Uganda), the entire island of Kauai, and Paris. The bush is the best place in the southern hemisphere for stargazing, and the sounds of the savannah just after sunset and before sunrise are worth the effort it takes to get there."
Southern African Team
The team in southern Africa are passionate about their heritage and about you enjoying every aspect of your placement. From Martin Bornman, our Operations Manager in southern Africa to every project coordinator we work with, you will have a very strong support structure throughout your placement.
“I meet each and every volunteer when you arrive in South Africa and introduce you to our beautiful country and the fantastic experience you are about to undertake. You may also meet little Lemon, my terrier and ACE's transfer buddy!
I was born and have lived my whole life in South Africa. I started my career in conservation by doing a volunteer placement on a small island in the Indian Ocean. I was so taken with what I had experienced there that I decided to follow a career in conservation. I enrolled to do a three year course in Conservation at the Tshwane University in South Africa. After completion I worked in the field for eight years, during which time I was privileged to work in some of the wildest areas in southern Africa. During this time I started a degree majoring in Psychology. I met the founder of ACE, Rob Harris, in 2000. After being ignited by his ideas I founded the Garonga ACE project, which I personally coordinated for three years. Since 2003 I have been employed by ACE as the Operations Manager of the projects in southern Africa. I live on a small farm to the west of Johannesburg where I pursue my personal interests in horse training and organic small scale farming.”
Project Coordinators and Assistant Coordinators
Experienced Coordinators on each project guide your conservation work, while providing a safe base in the African bush and being your mentor.
- Brian and Jenny Jones, Moholoholo
- Marinus & Ida Smith, Game Capture
- Dr Pete Roger, Dr Neil Kriel, Shimongwe
- Tracy Mentjes, DWRC
- Anthony Peniston, Zingela & Hanchi, Phola
- Tarryne Dickinson and JR, Phinda
- Petronel Niewoud, Khulula
- Kevin and Nicky Wilson, Chipangali Wildlife Orphanage
- Hennie van Deventer, Game Ranger Course
The Origins of ACE - The Founders of African Conservation Experience
Rob and Marion Harris
Rob was born and grew up in South Africa and has always had a keen interest in wildlife and conservation but with a career in civil engineering and the construction industry did not have much opportunity to fulfil that interest. He met his wife, Marion, in SA before coming to live in the UK with their 3 children. When their son Mark completed his A-levels and wanted to gain work experience on a game reserve in South Africa before starting university, they managed to arrange for him to spend a few months working on a game reserve. On hearing this, many of his friends from school wanted to join him. This was the seed of the idea for African Conservation Experience and Rob started ACE in 1998, with plenty of assistance and support from Marion.
Mark was the guinea pig and a few conservation projects were set up with the co-operation of game reserve land owners in southern Africa. Recruitment of volunteers in the UK commenced, and in 1999 the volunteers started arriving on the projects.
“We were astounded with the amount of interest and support we received from volunteers and the growth in the number of projects and volunteers has been amazing. We have learned many valuable lessons along the way and now have a very loyal and committed team in the UK and southern Africa doing great work.”
I learnt so much, not only about the work but about South Africa, politics and life. We were looked after from start to finish. The best experience of my life!
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