A volunteer's experience on our Wildlife Warriors Advanced Anti-Poaching Training Course

20 July 2018

I was overloaded on experiences and impressions. I still haven't put it all together. 

The anti-poaching-training and the week I spent after with our instructor touring in KwaZulu Natal was just amazing. I keep on reflecting, searching for words.

Les had a very good way of bringing the nature, the understanding of nature, the conservation, the understanding of conservation and in the end the connection to poaching and anti-poaching, to our understanding. All single pieces of the puzzle come together to one big puzzle, one big picture in the end. It all makes sense.

He started with the very basics of nature and the ecological system. After those basics, he began showing as around, driving out, bringing the nature to us and taking us to the nature. Showing us a few trees, bushes and animals. Sometimes we just stopped and observed, watched the animal, no-one speaking, just observing for a couple of minutes and longer. What's the animal behaviour, why is it behaving like that. Later reading footprints, markings, telling differences. Why does this poo belong to a rhino and not to an elephant, etc. His discussion about the communication of trees, was one of the most fascinating things I learned.

He made us aware that everything is connected, and has a meaning why it is there, where it is, grows, lives, stands. It was fascinating.

Les made us aware and understand how essential conservation is in the fight against poaching. Yes, probably it will never stop, you are not able to fully stop it. So to keep the wildlife, the animal, the nature, you must conserve that. He made as understand what poaching and anti-poaching is about, the different types and reasons of poaching. 

The daily structure, having lectures by the fire, game drives, lunch, time for yourself, further game drive, dinner, socialising by the fire place. Night drive/ walk. Just perfect.

I joined a private tour with Les the week after in KZN. This was just amazing. I saw and learned so much on the side. How everything is also connected to politics, the challenges the country faces and how poaching is actually possible and happening. Through that trip I could reflect even more, put together even more pieces of the puzzle, enlarging the picture. 

Les is an amazing and great guy. Not just because of his wide knowledge but because of his understanding, reflecting and the person he is.
 

We asked Silke a few questions about the project:

Would you recommend this programme to a friend?

Absolutely yes

Please rate your overall volunteer experience:

Compared to other programmes I looked at, I didn't find anyone similar to this one. Having an actual class and being tought, learning was what I wanted and got. I believe it was worth the money in total. It is quite a lot of money to spend for a 10 days course, and for the week after. For the same price I would have learned and received less in other projects, but there the focus would had been different as well. 

How did you find out about Conservation Travel Africa?

Deep research online

Why did you decide to join this project? 

Because it is related to my profession and where I want to work and be active in future. I wanted to understand how it works "at the very start" of the chain in poaching, hence financial crime. I didn't want to build walks and waterholes for animals and feed animals. I wanted to get a proper understanding and training. I wanted to learn, to understand, to see at the sights, where it's happening.

Please give any general comments or feedback on the accommodation and food:

Perfect. Very convenient. Great food. Even hot showers, even proper toilets, flushing, walls and doors and curtains for some privacy. Definitely something I did not expect. 

What activity did did you enjoy the most, and why?

Game drives and actually starting to understand nature, getting out of the car reading and following footprints, approaching to rhinos, always being aware of the pressure zone. There is not one highlight.  All, everything together is the highlight. 

What was your most memorable experience?

Being close to the animals, paying attention to the nature and animals, that we actually do have to understand and respect the animal, the nature itself. We don't have to be afraid. So we could stand in a herd of bulls being aware and having the respect for the bulls at the same time. Feeding rhinos, hearing their horns banging, experiencing animals.

Did you feel you made a contribution?

Not sure about making a contribution while being there. Surely though the first contribution I did was being there, having the interest to learn, understand and experience. Now it's up to me and what I make out of it whether I will make a sustainable contribution. To contribution needs to be sustainable in some way.

Tell us about your experience with the project staff and other volunteers:

Amazing, very friendly and open. I believe they all appreciated our interest and us being there.

Do you have any advice for future participants?

Be open minded, do it!!! Be curious and get out there.

 

Silke M, Germany, June 2018

 

For more information about our Wildlife Warriors Anti-Poaching Course, visit the project web page.

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