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Phinda Wildlife Research Project: 28 November - 12 December 2023*
Having lived in Africa for years in the early part of our marriage, we fell in love with the continent and wanted to continuously learn and experience Africa uniquely. After retirement, we discovered that we could give back by volunteering and given our love for conservation, African Conservation Experience (ACE) was the perfect fit.
We've done several trips through ACE over the years, and there are many projects we repeatedly return to. However, each time it is a completely new experience!
The unpredictability of it all is what makes it exciting. Each morning you could wake up to the news of something new, like an animal needing help at a rehabilitation project, or an elephant that needs its collar replaced at a research project. You never know!
The Vikela Kruger Conservation Experience was fantastic. We loved learning from the guide, who is a certified animal tracker. We tracked rhinos and even found them on foot. It's amazing because you don't always have tracks to work with, but other small signs like crushed grass or fresh mud on a tree stump can give you so much information! Working with the team's anti-poaching dog and witnessing the demonstrations of how they work together to protect the area from poaching was an incredible experience.
We’ve also had the opportunity while in Kruger this year to help with the clearing of invasive bushes, and it makes you feel really good to work up a sweat and look back to see that you've made a difference. It’s a reminder that conservation is about taking care of the land as much as the animals.
These projects are not safari trips but research and animal rehabilitation experiences that allow you to get hands-on and contribute. Something you would never be able to do when you're on safari.
We have been on several safaris throughout our life but experienced something completely new when we volunteered at Phinda Wildlife Research Project. Instead of just going to see the animals, as you would on safari, the engaging project staff taught us all about the conservation practices, equipment and methods used for gathering data in an area like this. You understand how those things are managed, and how it all works together in the ecological systems of different areas. The learning value is reflective of the quality of the projects which ACE offers.
Remembering our fantastic hands-on experiences, how well we were looked after by ACE, and knowing that our donations have gone to worthwhile projects just keeps us coming back. Knowing that money isn’t diverted elsewhere is very important to us!