Game Reserve Management Volunteer
About Tillietudlem Game Reserve
The reserve is a part of one of the most threatened eco-systems in Africa – the mist-belt grasslands. More than 60% of all grassland biomes have already been modified, mostly under forestry or arable agriculture, and only 2.2 % of the South Africa’s mountain grassland biome is under formal conservation, despite it being one of the world’s most bio-diverse habitats.
The owner and management of Tillietudlem are passionately committed to protecting and encouraging the conservation of the reserve. Although the vast majority of the reserve is in pristine condition, there is a continuous fight against the encroachment of invasive alien plants, which threaten the ecology and therefore the wildlife of the reserve.
The reserve hosts most of the wildlife that historically occurred in this area, and it is managed to optimise the variety and well-being of all species. It is home to large herds of game such as eland, wildebeest, and blesbuck and zebra, and also boasts with strong populations of grey rhebuck, bushbuck, common reedbuck, mountain reedbuck, duiker, steenbuck and the critically endangered Oribi. Other smaller animals include porcupine, aardvark, genets and civets. Predators are represented by heathy populations of black-backed jackal, caracal, serval and both cape clawless and spotted-necked otter. Leopard is also seen occasionally.
The reserve is an IBA (Important Bird and Biodiversity Area) and home to rare species like the secretary bird, blue crane, ground hornbill and 5 species of kingfisher. It also represents one of the last foraging areas for the critically endangered blue swallow.
In addition to wildlife the reserve also has a registered herd of indigenous Nguni cattle, a stable of 6 horses and one very energetic Rhodesian Ridgeback.
Activities of this program include
- All activities will be explained and facilitated by a trained member of the reserve staff.
- Game counts – physical count of all herbivores on the reserve.
- Small predator research (SPR) (black-backed jackal, caracal, serval and otter) – deploying and retrieving footage from camera traps, track plates, scat surveys and night counts.
- Monitor and research rehabilitated animals released on the reserve.
- Oribi conservation – monitoring, population demographics, spatial distribution, habitat management and threat management.
- Anti-poaching – patrols and counter-intelligence. Poaching is the single greatest threat to the current and rehabilitated on the reserve. As such anti-poaching (observe and report only) forms a substantial part of the volunteer project.
- Fence maintenance – patrols and repairs. The second greatest threat to the animals of the reserve is if they get out of the reserve. As such the perimeter fence of the reserve has to be checked and repaired on a regular basis.
- Alien plant control – mapping, clearing and rehabilitation to promote indigenous growth. Invasive alien plants are the greatest threat to the mist belt grassland ecosystem.
- Working with the cattle – nursing sick animals, herding, vaccinations, feeding etc.
- Depending on the season you may also be required to assist with fire management, erosion control and road maintenance.
- Volunteers have 2 rest days (Saturday and Sunday) per week. As the reserve is 45 minutes from the nearest town, transport is not provided during rest days. Leisure activities on the reserve include flyfishing, mountain biking and horse-riding which are at an additional cost. Day trips to Sani Pass and the highest pub in Africa can be arranged at an additional cost.
- Below is a basic weekly schedule
Board and Lodging
A comfortable and well-appointed lodge perched over the Hlega Manzi waterfall on the upper reaches of the Elands River. The lodge sleeps 8 guests in 4 bedrooms with two bathrooms, a dining room and an open plan lounge with a large fireplace. Linen is provided but guests are requested to bring their own towels. Other facilities include DSTV, Wi-Fi, electric blankets, gas heaters and a braai facility.
Meals are not supplied, but the fully equipped kitchen allows for easy self-catering. As the reserve is 45 minutes from the nearest town, there is only one shopping trip per week during which volunteers can buy or order their supplies.
There is a 2-week programme on offer with the option of extending it to a one month Conservation Volunteer experience, which will include a visit to Somkhanda Game Reserve. Any extension to this can be negotiated and the costs thereof will depend on the length of stay.
Transport to and from FreeMe / Accommodation is provided as well as all airport transfers.
Travel & Medical Insurance
African Insight provides medical emergency and evacuation cover however, in addition, it is a pre-requisite for acceptance on this programme that interns provide proof of standard travel and medical cover.
Most of the activities required a reasonable level of fitness. Anti-poaching patrols may require volunteers to walk up to 8 km at a reasonable pace
Rest Days / Additional Activities
You will be allocated 2 free days per week for the duration of your stay in South Africa. These you can choose to spend exploring the beautiful Kwa- Zulu Natal Midlands. Transport to these places is provided to you free of charge; however, any entrance fees, drinks, meals, curios and additional activities are for your own account.
- Registration / administration fee
- Meet & Greet on arrival
- Transport to and from the reserve
- All activities and transport on the reserve
- Emergency Medical Evacuation Insurance Cover
- Post internship reference and certificate
- Accommodation for 14 nights – self-catering
- Standard Travel and Medical Insurance
- Food and refreshments
- Additional excursions and activities
Starting Dates 2017
26 Dec - 09 Jan
23 Jan - 06 Feb
20 Feb - 06 Mar
20 Mar - 03 Apr
17 Apr - 01 May
15 May - 29 May
12 Jun - 26 Jun
10 Jul - 24 Jul
07 Aug - 21 Aug
04 Sep - 18 Sep
02 Oct - 16 Oct
30 Oct - 13 Nov
27 Nov - 11 Dec