I have always wanted to work with animals ever since I was a kid, so I went to South Africa to experience this dream. Volunteering with African Conservation Experience (ACE) helped me to escape from my office life in Europe, and allowed me to protect and learn about endangered species, all while supporting a good cause.
I was recommended to ACE by my friend who volunteered at Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, and she absolutely loved it there. From this, I initially thought to only volunteer at Moholoholo, so I scheduled a call with the ACE team to learn more.
The team I spoke to on the phone made sure to ask me lots of questions about my goals, interests, and what species I wanted to work with.
From this, I mentioned how much I loved rhinos, and if there was any way I could contribute to their conservation against poaching. They took the time to tailor my trip to all of my interests and recommended combining some time at Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and Golola Rhino Orphanage and Rehabilitation Centre to ensure all of my goals were fulfilled - it was the perfect decision.
ACE really exceeded, there is nothing more to say really. The only thing I would have changed would be to stay longer!
One of the highlights of my time at Golola was working closely with the rhino orphans every day. It was amazing to be able to contribute to the conservation of such an endangered species. During the drives through the reserve, I got to see the adult rhinos that had been successfully released and the other wild animals that live out there with them.
The standout moment of my time at Moholoholo was the chance to work with and learn about a wide variety of wildlife. There are so many different species from eagles and lions to cheetahs and zebras.
If you're passionate about gaining hands-on experience with lots of different wildlife, Moholoholo is the perfect project for you.
I gained a great sense of achievement working within the volunteer teams, ensuring the animals in our care had better lives, it also educated me in lots of different ways. The project staff at Golola and Moholoholo went beyond just assigning tasks – they took the time to explain the purpose behind each job. They showed me the right way to do things and when to do them.
The staff members were really knowledgeable about conservation in South Africa, they explained how Africa has changed over the years, and how this has affected the animals and their habitats. I gained an understanding of topics like habitat fragmentation caused by fences, and the importance of large wildlife areas.
I'm going home satisfied, knowing that I've gained an understanding of conservation efforts in South Africa!
If I had chosen a traditional safari, I would have seen the same animals but not learnt anything about them, their habitats, or helped with their conservation. I am going home to raise awareness among my family and friends. People need to realise we can support wildlife conservation in Africa through supporting projects like these.
Something that surprised me was how international the other volunteers were. This allowed me to make friends with people I would never normally meet and learn about lots of new cultures, not just from the local staff, but the other volunteers.
I really felt like I made a lot of new friends, and had an awesome time at both projects.
I would recommend ACE to anyone who is trying to decide between this company and another. I understand the prices may be a little more than other companies, however, you know everything is 100% legit and what you are getting in return is priceless - it really is money well spent.
You know your time, effort, and money is going to and supporting the right places, and you have had an actual hand in helping conservation.