Just a quick report as a couple have asked.
I went with a 22 year old niece and a 28 year old friend to Moholoholo Rehab Centre near Hoedspruit. We were here for 22 nights and then we went for 2 nights to Kapama Game Reserve and then 9 nights at Phinda, 5 at Mountain Lodge and 4 at Forest Lodge. It was a very different holiday to what I usually have in Sth Africa but I have become a wildlife carer at home for over a year now and decided I want to do that on my holidays in Sth Africa as well as I really do enjoy it, for the best part, and I feel as if I am making a small contribution to our world wide wildlife!
I knew the rehab centre would be hard work, as looking after my few possums at home is hard work with collecting food and cleaning as well as time consuming, so that was a given. I certainly didn't realise how much additional cleaning we would be given. There were also some issues for me with some of the staff and that made what I was doing some of the time quite uncomfortable.
We had daily rounds, am and pm, and this was split between four groups. Numbers in groups varied and the work varied as if we had people in our group with their own animals to care for, then the rest of the group had to do more. This bit didn't worry me as our rounds were fairly good and we had all good animals. We did sometimes do jobs that I thought were unnecessary as I think I keep my animals and their surroundings in super good condition, and over there you just did set duties in the am and pm, regardless of it being needing doing or not. Most of the volunteers were 18-23 years of age, so I am wondering if management decided that their judgement in this matter wasn't good enough and therefore set jobs were decided upon. After morning rounds we would go to breakfast and then return for whatever big cleaning needed to be done - this was usually cleaning out the predators feeding cages or cleaning up their living areas and if we were left to do it, it was good as we could go at a good pace but if we did it as a supervised group, then it was time consuming. Generally didn't mind this either. We also had to be big clinic cleans and big aviary cleans, not a fan here at all as once again, anyone with their own animals went and tended to them and these jobs were left to the new people, which for the first two weeks seemed to be us three plus one or two others. These were big jobs that took a considerable amount of time. Never clean as much in a year at home as i did in three weeks there!
I did have some wonderful contact with animals though the majority we dealt with will never be released. Did get to see very newborn Serval and Cheetah cubs. The groups of kids that were there when we were there were great fun and certainly that helped while doing jobs etc.
I did get my own animals to care for in the last week and that certainly helped as I felt I was doing what I went there for, even though it still involved cleaning and feeding, I still felt as if I was helping wildlife as two of the three would have been returned to the wild, a baby swift and a male hedgehog that had been bitten by a dog. I also could have taken on the job as a rhino mum as they had a 2 month old white rhino calf. They never asked as they thought I would not do it as I was there with two others, not sure if I would have or not, certainly would have if I was on my own and that involves a lot more care as you sleep with the calf as well as spend a huge chunk of your day with them.
Now I have that experience I know what I want to do next time, so looking at some options for September/October so pleased I did it as it will act as a guideline for my next volunteer job.
Went to Kapama as it was so close and also wanted to see the Cheetah Conservation Centre. We had a lovely ranger here but no off roading other than for predators so the gameviewing was not as good as I have had in the past. The camp was very nice but large and not the camp I had originally booked as it was flooded and we had to go to their main camp. Not that I would ever choose a place for food, ever - but the food here was very good - beautifully displayed and very good to eat. At a lodge, don't think I have ever had better! And even better, I did not have to clean anything! It was a good place to get back into it after quite a physical job at Moholoholo.
Then onto Phinda, which was a pretty game reserve, very scenic and the most fantastic Black Rhino gameviewing, which is why I went there really. Had two wonderful rangers and some great traveling companions as besides my niece, had 3 ex rangers with me, two I knew and one I didn't. They made the gamedrives just speed by. Was surprised at the number of fences everywhere. Also not a lot of off roading done here and that is always disappointing. Phinda seems to be overly managed in my opinion and while I think looking after the land is essential, I thought they went overboard!
All in all it was an interesting trip. I did have a good time and who I was travelling with helped in this enormouslyl If I had been by myself I think I may well have left Moholoholo earlier and now I am very pleased I didn't. I did get to experience wildlife and see how things work, which is very differently I think from home as we have very strict guidelines here while in South Africa not so much. I also have quite different ideas on the quality of life than they seem to and that made things a bit tricky at times.
But I certainly will be doing the wildlife rehab again, just to a different place, hopefully one that will suit me better!
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Trip Report for Animal Rehab Centre, Kapama and Phinda