I am an older person, now 57 years, and have been 3 times and will be returning in March and again in January 2015.
I have read the reviews and decided to do mine as well.
At home, in Australia, I am a wildlife carer so go over there with certain standards in mind of how animals in care should be treated and with Petronel as Commander-in-Chief, I absolutely love working with her and for her! The animals are her main concern and she is very generous with her knowledge and the sharing of that knowledge and my sometimes endless questions about animals I am helping care for. It is definitely a learning experience, you must ask the questions and observe the animals and no matter how many times I go, there is always plenty to learn from Petronel and her two co-ordinators, Angelique and Sam.
I am surprised by someone's comments regarding the lack of respect by them to us as I found them both to be very helpful and could ask them anything and an answer would come back to me, not necessarily right there and then, but within a reasonable time frame, as they both always have a lot on their plates with the animals in care, jobs to be done not to mention looking after all those volunteers.
My day's are very busy, which is what I want and the purpose of me going over there. Each team has their animals to care for, which involves cleaning out cages, feeding and monitoring each animal in care. Any problem is reported to the co-ordinators and they will get back to you on those problems. All three, Petronel, Angelique and Sam, are extremely approachable with any issue I have ever brought up and listen to what is said before answering my concerns or questions.
My spare time is usually spent redoing cages for animals in care or preparing newly built cages for animals to go into, which is hard work but extremely rewarding to know you have made a better home for an animal that deserves it!
Another thing that surprised me was comments about animals coming in and not being released, white lions was one that was mentioned. When animals come into care, Petronel does not choose which ones she wants, they are coming to her because they are orphaned, injured or needing a better place to be. The animals need to be in top condition and a certain age to be released and they cannot be released without certain protocol. There are a number of regulations and redtape that must be done in order to release an animal back to the wild and not all animals are that easy to release back to the wild. White lions would be one of those as they only come from certain small populations, so you cannot be releasing them in parks where they don't exist to begin with and you also have to be extremely knowledgeable about what populations do exist otherwise new animals coming in will be killed by territorial animals already in place. A lot must be considered to release an animal into the wild and it is not a decision to rush into as Petronel has brought an animal back to good condition, with our help, and wishes that animal to have a long-term future! Always ask anything you wish to know regarding animals, and please do not make assumptions about what is being done. Animals I have cared for in the past, have certainly been released back into Game Reserves.
If you have a love of wildlife, then this is one place I highly recommend as each time I return, I have so many amazing experiences and to know that I have helped animals get into a better place is a very rewarding experience. I learn a lot, as I ask a lot and with the small staff that Petronel has, they have never shown me anything other than friendliness and a great attitude for a busy working day and lending a hand wherever and whenever it is required! We have regular lectures on given subjects or I have requested a subject that interests me as well. You can learn so much by sitting and observing an animal and you will never get to see their different behaviours in the wild like you do watching them at Khulula Wild Care.
I am also going to mention the ACE representative for Khulula as Martin has been specifically mentioned in previous reviews. I have had some communications with him over transfers and minor matters and he was always polite and punctual with his responses. On this last visit, I saw for myself how exceptional he was when a young 18 year old volunteer had serious medical problems and Martin came from Johannesburg and helped this young female through hospital trauma and surgery in what was I would have thought, well above his job description! He made what was a very difficult time for her, as easy as possible as he handled all those details that her family would have had they been here and she was visited very regularly by Khulula staff to ensure her time in hospital prior to surgery and post surgery went as well as it could. At no time did I ever hear staff complain of this extra burden, they seemed to think it was part of their daily programme and the volunteer even came back to rest before flying home and backed up what I was seeing from all involved, Petronel and staff and of course, Martin!
I was not really involved with the social/fun side and that was my choice. Certainly my other 3 team members on my last visit, were a fantastic group of young women, and they were hard workers and they had a lot of fun working and playing, and that was something I enjoyed as I like being able to love my work, and listening to them talk, dance and sing away the working day, made me love my time at Khulula even more than usual - so thanks to Kerry, Alex and Lauren!