Alumni Spotlight: Jordan Weeks


Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with African Conservation Experience in South Africa?

Whilst studying at Kingston Maurward College, we had an ACE representative come in to do a chat and show us some of the projects they do. They are a wildlife center which focuses on the care and conservation of wild animals.

I have always dreamed of going to Africa to work with the famous Big 5, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. The project offered the chance to visit Chimp Eden and Kruger National Park, which is a once in a lifetime opportunity!

They are a trusted, well-known volunteering company with many projects to choose from, which made me believe that I would be safe whilst on my trip. The representatives helped me and a group of friends from the moment we applied, and promised to help us throughout our experience too.

What made this experience unique and special?

Going to Africa was something I had never done before and Khulula Care for Wild seemed to be the perfect place for my first adventure! I was able to work with all different types of animals and many incredible people.

Khulula is placed within a beautiful valley, which inhabits wild animals such as warthogs, wildebeest and giraffe. We went on game drives in and around the site, and were able to see such animals and this was such a wonderful feeling. I was able to help build new enclosures for the animals and manage the reserve.

As a volunteer at the time, I was able to hand rear Serval Kittens which was an unbelievable experience; waking up early hours of the morning to go and give them their milk whilst they scratch you apart, and to be able to watch them grow and develop as they had they first meat was remarkable.

I found a love for rhinos whilst in Africa, which I never thought I would. But they're gentle giants who are in need of help and this made me become very attached to them as a species.

Each and every animal at Khulula had their own story and a reason for being there. Project manager, Petronel, and the other staff taught me everything there is to know about Africa and the animals. The place itself is so relaxing, but a lot of hard work goes into the running of it, this makes it so special.

How has this experience impacted your future?

I have always wanted to work with animals since I was little, but Khulula most definitely confirmed this for me. The idea of being able to help conserve and rehabilitate animals in need just fascinates me.

I learned so much from my month in Africa, it taught me to appreciate everything I have, to put myself out of my comfort zone and to also work hard at anything that is thrown at me. I also gained knowledge about all the animals I worked with which included birds, owls, lions, caracals, servals, primates, rhinos, antelope and horses.

I made many friends, who I am still in contact with currently and am sure they will be life long friends. This experience confirmed that I will most definitely be heading back into Africa for another adventure, and I will be going to work at Khulula again in the future!

What is one piece of advice you would offer something considering volunteering abroad in South Africa?

The main piece of advice I would offer is to be prepared for anything!! Things will go wrong and some events may be upsetting, but you need to be able to carry on without letting it knock you down.

I was struck by the horrible stories of rhino poaching and other animal injuries/fatalities which really effect me emotionally. But knowing that we were able to help these animals and their family members who were left behind, helped me to carry on working hard after the bad news. You have to be strong, and Africa brings this out your strength.

You must be truly dedicated and motivated if you want to work out in the bush of Africa as it can be very difficult, especially being so far away from home for some. You have to go out there optimistic and confident. I would also say to give 150% at whatever you do, and always say yes to any opportunity, even if you don't know if you'll enjoy it.

For example, I was feeling really tired on a game drive whilst we went out looking at old gold mines, and we were told that we can climb up this giant hill to see another mine. I of course said "why not!!" and went on up that hill to find the most beautiful view of the African landscape.

I was also able to jump into a freezing cold river! And I am honestly so glad I did these things otherwise I would of regretted it. My final piece of advice would be to enjoy every single second whilst in one of Africa's haven.