ZINGELA ENDANGERED SPECIES PROJECT (South Africa)

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Zingela is dedicated to establishing a world-class sanctuary for rare and endangered species of South Africa.  Their 5 year goal is to re-introduce elephants and lions, as well as to release wild populations of roan and sable.  They are also committed to growing the reserve to form a corridor to the Limpopo River in the north.  Siyafunda joined the Zingela reserve in 2013 in order to provide the research and monitoring requirements to enable them to fulfil these goals.

The 55,000 acre Zingela Game Reserve is based in the Northwestern Limpopo province of South Africa.The reserve is currently home to two of the Big 5, buffalo and leopard, as well as rarer carnivores such as cheetah, brown hyena and bat-eared fox.  They are also planning to release spotted hyena during 2014.  There are around 45 other mammal species on the reserve, including aardvark, jackal and aardwolf as well as over 300 bird species, all dwelling in the rich vegetation which includes giant Baobab trees.8

Siyafunda volunteers are vital in developing a sustainable research facility, providing accurate data collection so that Zingela can implement its ecological objectives effectively; restoring this large tract of African wilderness to its former natural state with free roaming populations.  As a volunteer you will be involved in many monitoring activities;

  • Waterhole hide monitoring, including 24 hour watches over full moon
  • 2 or 3 day walks to explore large areas without roads, camping out under the stars
  • Monitoring drives to help habituate the animals to vehicles
  • Feeding and monitoring the rare breeds in the breeding camps

All of these provide excellent photography opportunities which will enable us to produce ID kits of all the key species and animals.  These will be used to track the behaviour and habits of the animals to allow us to inform the reserve.

We will also be hosting researchers with special interests linked to the Zingela reserve.  Volunteers will be involved in the data collection and monitoring requirements for these research projects and the findings will be used by the reserve to implement their long-term aims.

This is a unique opportunity for volunteers to get involved with a ground breaking wildlife conservation project in South Africa, helping establish a new reserve for endangered species.  Come and join us in our newest project and help make a difference.

Duration:

Siyafunda’s Zingela Project has a minimum duration of 2 weeks.

3 Night Patrol & 24 Hour Hide Monitoring

You will set out on a three night hiking trail through different sectors of the reserve to record and monitor rare species activity, sleeping out in the wild. These animals include leopard, cheetah, brown and spotted hyena, bat-eared fox, jackal, caracal and serval, in addition to other unique animals. This will form a major component of the predator composition monitoring to assist with the introduction process for lion.Z details 8

 It is very special and unique for volunteers to experience bushwalking and camping amongst these amazing animals, monitoring and recording data as well as truly feeling this amazing environment and learning the subtle aspects of life in the bush.

We do take into account varying fitness levels and will tailor the trails to suit the volunteer groups so they can be shortened to 1 or 2 nights if necessary. 

24 hour waterhole monitoring takes place over the full moon period and will replace the trail from time to time. This is an amazing experience to be able to sit in one place and observe animals. The wildlife is often unaware of your presence and this allows you to observe natural behaviour of the many species close up. In winter though it’s best to bundle up, it gets chilly!

 Sable, Roan and Buffalo Breeding

Volunteers will assist the reserve with feeding and monitoring of these rare species in their breeding camps.  This will be on a limited basis at times depending on managements decisions. It will allow you to get a really close understanding of these very rare species which are not often encountered in the wild. The breeding is the first step to establishing free roaming populations within the Zingela Game Reserve.

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 Horseback in the Bushveld

As part of the anti-poaching efforts, Zingela has employed a number of horses and they need regular exercise, rid

ing, grooming and care.  As such, we are always on the look out for volunteers with horse experience.  When applying, send us information regarding your horse ability and interest to ensure that you get the opportunity to ride in the African bush!

 Elephant Introduction

Zingela aims to re-introduce free roaming elephants within the next five years.  These animals historically occurred at Zingela but the last of these animals were pushed out of the area through hunting and then farming. Z1

Volunteers will work on setting up monitoring protocols, vegetation surveys and a fixed point photographic project in preparation for elephant introduction.  This will allow adequate monitoring of these animals and allow us to determine the effects they will have on the vegetation.

Predator Composition Analysis and Research;

Cheetah, Hyena and Leopard, with the Goal to Introduce Lions

Zingela is determining the composition of predators in the reserve, which include cheetah, leopard and brown hyena.  Lions had a similar fate to the elephants and were largely eradicated from the area.  However, nomadic animals have been seen on the reserve on rare occasions. Information gathered about the predators present on the reserve will be vital in determining the effects on these species once lions have been introduced.

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 Small Mammal Survey

A small mammal survey has also been initiated. This data allows for the determination of habitat, home range and territory utilisation of these animals. They include aardvark, jackal, honey badger, caracal, aardwolf and bat-eared fox to name a few.

 General Game Monitoring

We monitor and record locations, demographic composition and any significant behavioural displays of general game on the reserve such as impala, giraffe, zebra and wildebeest. This is to determine trends in habitat utilization and population size.

Volunteers will also be tasked to spend some days sitting at water points in blinds observing the animals that utilise them.Z details (2)

Birds and Raptors

Each week we monitor the different species of birds seen in the area.  This is to determine any seasonal correlations and observe migratory patterns as part of the Ndlovu birding project, a large country-wide initiative.  Positions of birds of prey and vultures are recorded and sent to the Endangered Wildlife Trust who constantly monitor the vulnerability status of these birds.  Many of these birds are threatened due to persecution by people who believe they threaten livestock, as well as being used for traditional medicine and beliefs.

Ground Hornbill Introduction

The Southern Ground Hornbill has not been seen in this area for many years. In collaboration with Makalali and the Ground Hornbill Project, we aim to become part of the re-distribution of this rare bird species.

 Habitat Conservation and Maintenance

Alien Vegetation Control: Volunteers participate in the mechanical removal and chemical control of these species as well as the follow-up monitoring of problem areas. This is an important project as alien invasive plants have the ability to encroach on areas and prevent other indigenous plants from growing, as well as using up large amounts of moisture from the soil. This has a detrimental effect on your ecosystem and therefore requires constant monitoring and removal.

Habitat Rehabilitation: Volunteers have the opportunity to assist in ongoing habitat rehabilitation initiatives in the reserve, including erosion control, the construction of rock gabions, brush-packing and re-seeding.M details 5_0

Reserve Management: We are lucky enough to be situated on a large reserve but this also means that it needs to be constantly managed. Volunteers will have the opportunity to take part in assisting with reserve duties such as road maintenance to prevent erosion problems, encroachment of vegetation over the roads and fence clearing when needed.

Boma and Hide Maintenance: Volunteers assist with maintaining the large species bomas (enclosures) situated close to the volunteer farmhouse and the upkeep of the hides at the many water points.

What is included?

Transfers for collection and drop off on Mondays from Polokwane.

All food (except snacks, soft-drinks, alcohol)

Accommodation

All linen (except towels)

Monday to Friday housekeeping service

All training for assistance with our research

All travel within the reserve

Assistance to organise travel in the local area

An outing every two weeks to local pub outside of the reserve

An outing to Mapungubwe Reserve. www.sanparks.co.za/parks/mapungubwe

What is excluded?

Transfers to town Tuesday to Sunday if required

Personal Insurance

Internet (small fee payable for access at camp)

Towels

Other personal items such as alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, snack food

Trail snacks

Tents for the hiking component of the project (available to rent from project for R100)

A typical two weeks at Zingela 1397219_10153528065715511_1363498407_o

This is an example two weeks and may vary slightly during your stay.

Week 1:

Monday: Town Trip, shopping for weeks ahead and collection of volunteers.

Tuesday: Early start setting out on a set route drive as part of our game counting program to determine populations of general game. These include giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, gemsbok, wildebeest etc.

On return to camp there is time to have lunch, then we will do a presentation on data capture and an introduction to Siyafunda and the Zingela reserve.

Afternoon – Waterhole observations to determine utilisation and hopefully sight and record elusive predators and other rare species.

Wednesday: Rare species work, feeding and observation (at management discretion).

Back for lunch and time for volunteers to enter the data they have collected onto the PC.

Endangered species monitoring and patrol.

Thursday:  Habitat work – we could be busy with exotic vegetation removal, erosion control or bush clearing.

Midday one of the facilitators will host a presentation on a variety of topics, which include how to approach dangerous game on foot, history of the area, animal behaviour or maybe a Zulu lesson?

Afternoon walking patrol to check camera traps and introduction to bush walks

Friday: Waterhole observations: to determine utilisation and hopefully sight and record elusive predators and other rare species.

Arrive back at base for lunch and data capture, and to have briefing for the trail starting on Saturday.

Hyena and nocturnal animals monitoring drive

Saturday:  Trail – rare species monitoring and patrolling

Sunday: Trail – rare species monitoring and patrolling

Week 2:62472_10153552835105511_129289991_n

Monday: Trail – rare species monitoring and patrolling

Afternoon back to camp for relaxation time

Tuesday: Early start setting out on a set route drive as part of our game counting program to determine populations of general game. These include giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, impala etc.

Endangered species monitoring and patrol.

Wednesday: Tracking walk.

Back for lunch and time for volunteers to enter the data they have collected onto the PC.

Waterhole observations: to determine utilisation and hopefully sight and record elusive predators and other rare species.

Thursday:  Habitat work – we could be busy with exotic vegetation removal, erosion control or bush clearing.

Afternoon or evening heading out on a hyena monitoring and night patrol.

Friday: Tracking walk

Midday one of the facilitators will host a presentation on a variety of topics, which include how to approach dangerous game on foot, history of the area, animal behaviour or maybe a Zulu lesson?

Predator Monitoring.

Saturday:  Habitat work in the morning – we could be busy with exotic vegetation removal, erosion control or bush clearing.

Midday volunteers and rangers clean vehicles and complete all data ready to write it up for the weekly research report.

Waterhole observations: to determine utilisation and hopefully sight and record elusive predators and other rare species.

Zingela LoungeSunday: Either an outing will be planned or it will be a free day for volunteers to relax.

 Accommodation 

The farm house is situated next to a large dam with hill views to the south of the house and h

Zingela room1as the constant comings and goings of animals heading to the dam to drink. The house has four large bedrooms, three bathrooms and a large lounge which opens out onto a large veranda that surrounds the house on two sides.Zingela bedroom

Volunteers will share rooms with each other with a maximum of three per room. The kitchen is typical of old South African farm houses being large with a walk in pantry.  The kitchen is the focal point of the house and opens out at the back to the outside dining area and camp fire. There is permanent electricity at the house and hot and cold running water.

The kitchen offers cooking facilities for volunteers to prepare their breakfast, lunch and dinner. The fridge is always filled up with fresh veggies and fruit, cheese and a variety of meat. Volunteers help themselves with tea or coffee, cereal and toast in the morning. For a late brunch you can do sandwiches or salads or have a tasty fry up.  In the evening, after game drive, the volunteers cook a delicious meal together or just braai (South African BBQ) in our Boma, where we light up the fire after sunset.

 

Rate : R  13 450 / $1250 USD for 2 weeks

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