I've volunteered with African Conservation Experience (ACE) twice now, and it's been an amazing experience both times. It feels like a second home to me. Everything about the program is perfect, from the incredible locations to the volunteer work. While we have zoos back home, learning about this in person truly teaches you about the animal's behaviour and the conservation efforts in place to protect them.
I've gained a lot of knowledge about different species and their behaviour, I have also learnt how to identify animals and track them in the bush. It feels amazing to come away with these new skills.
I was motivated to volunteer at The Game Ranger Conservation Experience because I want to work in conservation in the future. The first time I volunteered was to see if it was what I wanted to do, and the second time, I jumped at the opportunity because it's not every day you get to go to Africa! Being out in the bush helping restore habitats, wrapping trees, and tracking wildlife has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It's hard work, but I'm willing to do it if it means making a difference.
To anyone considering volunteering, I would say to live in the moment and enjoy the experience. Take lots of pictures, but also try to see things through your own eyes - be present.
There's so much to see and learn, every minute is exciting, and it's truly incredible.
While volunteering, I learned that conservation is a complex topic and may not be as simple as it is made out to be. It involves understanding the animals you are working to protect and the threats to them, like habitat destruction. But, it also requires an understanding of the people living around the wildlife and their culture. It's important to look at things from a wide perspective and understand that everyone has their own opinions and beliefs, and just trying to change people's actions to support conservation is not always feasible.
You’ve got to understand what people go through because not everyone is as privileged to prioritise conservation.
It has opened my eyes to the challenges of conservation and the need for understanding and collaboration. There are so many aspects to it. It's not just a simple straight road, and it's not just one person's opinion. This trip has helped me see that.