Group of ACE volunteers relaxing around the campfire
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Leigh Haywood with a young rhino

Leigh Haywood

🇬🇧 United Kingdom

Length of Trip
28 Nights

Project Year

As a Veterinary Nurse, I work with animals on a day to day basis, but it has always been a dream to work with and interact closely with African species and to use my qualification and skills to make a difference. I chose ACE as I wanted to go somewhere ETHICAL – as this is very important to me – and I definitely found an ethical company!

I spent 4 weeks under ACE’s wing – they sorted EVERYTHING out of me, which was perfect, as I had never travelled on my own before, let alone for 4 weeks and long distance! The team were so helpful, patient and were always there when I needed advice or help.

My first two weeks were spent at Care for Wild, a rhino sanctuary. Oh my! Let’s just say, I am absolutely besotted with rhinos now. It was an incredible experience: making milk for the babies and bottle feeding them, cleaning their enclosures, making enrichments, and I even got to help a newly rescued baby. They also have other species there, some permanent – like the hippos and lions, but other species that can be released, such as tortoises, servals, caracals, squirrels and birds (anything that needs help!)

My last 2 weeks were spent at Moholoholo, which had a huge variety of species varying from birds to honey badgers to hyenas and lions. This centre was different to Care for Wild, as they wanted to educate farmers and the communities about the wild animals that they share their land with and teach them that they aren’t a threat, but they also took in injured and abandoned animals too. Aside from the daily work volunteers were also allocated ‘special cases’, which were animals that required additional support. Due to my experience as a vet nurse I was lucky to get three different cases – Cinnamon and Bun the baby bush-babies, the owls and finches. I loved my special cases, especially the bush babies, as they were ADORABLE and very interactive. Cinnamon and Bun were a joint case with another volunteer, Clare, and we always had a great time with the rascals and always came out of their enclosure with a huge smile on our faces.

I even had the opportunity to experience day trips: to Kruger National Park for a safari, a canyon boat trip, a camp out in a neighbouring farm to Kruger. All of the trips were amazing – but the camp out was the best experience of my life and one that I will never, ever forget!

I would use ACE again and recommend them to anyone and everyone. I put all of my trust into them and they delivered. The team are wonderful and I couldn’t have picked a better company to use when doing my first lone trip!