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Phinda Wildlife Research Project: 28 November - 12 December 2023*
When I was asked to write a testimony about my experience volunteering at Care for Wild, I was touched and so excited to have the opportunity to broadcast my amazing conservation experience. However, it has been extremely hard to put my African experience into words. It was indescribable and I have honestly never experienced anything so beautiful and breath-taking.
My name is Sabrina and I have been blessed to be able to volunteer at Care for Wild twice.
My first experience lasted 2 weeks from July through to August 2019, with my university. This made it extremely easy to be comfortable as I had all my friends by my side experiencing everything with me. It was an experience I will never forget; my first trip to Africa, exploring the bush, seeing all the mesmerising wildlife that people dream of seeing.
My second experience lasted 3 weeks in December 2019, but this experience was different. I had to head back to Care for Wild I needed to learn more about the animals, culture and what more I could do to help. So I travelled back with a friend. We were able to meet the most amazing people, develop our knowledge about the sanctuary and how they are helping communities and our experience working with animals.
I will definitely be travelling back to Care for Wild for the rest of my life I love everything about the sanctuary: their message, morals and most importantly their rhinos. It has been a blessing to be a part of the fight to protect such a prehistoric mammal.
Rhinos are truly unicorns with curves.
I realised that from these trips, my interest in animals was based on my love for them of course, but I did not focus on what animals truly needed our help. The one thing that will NEVER leave my mind is the shock and devastation that rhinos go through every day. Think about it … whilst we are having our morning coffee, a rhino is being poached and hacked just for their horn. Separating calves from their mothers, rhino populations have stooped to a dangerously low number, and the world NEEDS be aware of this problem.
Arthur the Brave, what an unbelievable story. Arthur was only a few days old. He got his name as he tried to protect his mum from poachers. In the efforts of trying to protect his mum, Arthur sustained huge machete wounds. Arthur is going to forever wear the scars from his brutal start to life. I have learnt how to be brave and build trust in people within my own life through the stories of these orphaned rhinos’. Your eyes are continuously opened during this experience, from the videos you are shown about rhino poaching, and the injuries Care for Wild’s rhinos carry from their personal poaching experiences. The brutality is seriously shocking.
I want to continue being part of the voices which help the voiceless.
Every day was another day to understand the rhinos, their stories and the sanctuary. With a working week comprised of 6 days, we as volunteers wake up to meet for 6:30am. Waking up in the early morning in the South African bush, WOW. I am not only speaking about a sunrise, even the South African rain is beautiful. Breaking up each working day through great food, A LOT of great food, really adds to the heart of Care for Wild: the cooks, cleaners, the animal carers, every employee is the definition of hard-working and it has taught me dedication. The physical work volunteers need to do makes us a part of rhino conservation and it is a reward unlike any other.
Evenings are relaxing and involve doing your own thing by yourself or chilling with the rest of the volunteers and employees. The days are so full of emotion, thought and physical work you will need that time for relaxation. Every Sunday is a day out of the sanctuary, and you have so much fun! After 6 days’ of work it is genuinely strange to drive out of the sanctuary, but it is a really lovely day out.
South Africa is always going to be a huge part of my life and every single penny I spent on these volunteering experiences has not been wasted. It has rewarded me with life experiences that I will never forget and has honestly helped me understand what I want to do in my life and how I want to help animals. I am forever grateful and thankful for the experiences from Care for Wild and the African Conservation Experience.