Waterberg Biosphere Biodiversity Survey Project

Today I received an email confirming the project that I am to be working on in South Africa.  I, along with 16 others will be travelling to Masebe to monitor and survey the wildlife in order to help protect them and ensure that ecological balances are maintained.

The project includes tasks such as bird point counts, game transect drives and habitat assessments. As well as teaching the local community about environmental conservation.

All the work stuff makes it seem not as fun as it really is. Basically, I get to go on a safari drive each day to ensure all fauna and flora are safe and protected. While collecting data about the areas, I’ll be surrounded by giraffe, zebra, antelope, and hundreds of different species of birds.

It is so exciting to think that in two months I will be immersed in the heart of the South African bushlands, surrounded by amazing creatures, and having the time of my life all while doing some good for the environment and local communities.

Part of this project requires us volunteers to be able to track animals on foot and be able to accurately collect field data. All which will be taught to us back at our huts at the Telekishi Community Centre where we will be staying.

The Waterberg Biosphere Reserve is home to 129 species of mammals, 350 species of birds and over 2000 plant species with a number of threatened or endangered butterflies, fish and reptile species, making it an extremely important conservation area.

As well as the project summary, I also received a travel manual with all the information I need to know about anything.

New Zealand is eleven hours ahead of South Africa, and I know my  mother will constantly worry so ringing home may be a little awkward given the time difference, but there are plenty of opportunities to visit internet cafes so I will be able to email home, post facebook updates and keep up with this blog.

Getting to Africa is my one small concern, the last time I took a plane was a family holiday to Australia when I was nine. It’s not that I’m scared of planes, it’s more that I’m scared of big airports that I could get lost in. I’ll have to make sure to meet up with the other volunteers early so we can at least get lost together!

Money in South Africa is quite different to the New Zealand dollar, but thankfully they follow the same rules

In NZ one dollar is 100 cents
In SA one Rand is 100 cents

easy enough. And the exchange rate shows that $1NZD = $8.88ZAR

I had planned to rely on my credit card for the trip but shopping in the local markets requires cash, and there will be chances to withdraw money from an ATM, though I just know that I’ll get confused and end up drawing out way too much or too little.

The one thing I am most looking forward to is the Adventure Tour during the last two weeks. The activities included are things like ziplining through a forest and over a river, a hike to the top of a waterfall, a full game drive, and an elephant encounter!

I am also considering signing up for the Optional Activities Package if it’s not too late, it ifits in five more awesome activities which are a cape town hike, surfing lessons, township tour, sunset game drive and kloofing through Blyde River canyon.  I’ve always wanted to go cliff jumping so that last one is a must!

If I don’t sign up for the OAP then I will have some free time to go shopping or take part in any other activities that I choose, but the OAP is too good to miss out on.

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