I had a fabulous time on this project! I spent 3 weeks at 2 different nearby wildlife parks. The parks are all participants in a program where they collect data for research to gain understanding in animal behavior, ecosystem management, population management, etc.
On the typical day, we would go out in the truck with our own personal guide (there are only 4 volunteers at a time at each of the parks so it is very personal!). We would use radio telemetry (the equipment looks like a TV aerial) to find the wild dogs. Wild ogs are an endangered species that had been wiped out of the parks, but the packs we followed were from a breeding program that had recently released them with radio tracking collars.
Our job was to monitor the dogs and record notable behavior of each individual. After that, we would go in search of several different cheetah, most of whom were also collared. Every day we saw more and more of your typical African animals on our way to another area of the parks, such as elephant, rhino, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, warthog, and even some hippos when we went near the rivers.
We often found the cheetahs fairly easily from the truck and could get close enough to get some fantastic pictures. There was a set of brothers that stuck together (names Starsky and Hutch) and we often found them lounging over one another. One time, we came up on them in the brush on the side of the road (after passing them several times looking for their radio signal). They were working on a fresh impala kill and it was amazing to see! We were so close that I got the most amazing pictures!
Another notable experience was when a white rhino (the endangered one) got its leg caught in a poachers trap. A vet flew in in a helicopter to dart it and then we went in on foot to assist the vet in removing the trap. We poored water over her to keep her cool and covered her eyes to keep her calm. We got some awesome photos here as well.
Aside from my close encounters with cheetah and rhinos, the best part of my trip was meeting a lifelong friend. Since she is British, we have decided to meet up on a different volunteer project every 2 years to keep in touch. We both had such a good experience through Travellers, that we will definitely use them again to help plan our trip!
I would definitely reccommend this placement to anyone who does not want the typical resort and safari feel. I did this trip along with a lion conservation project in Zimbabwe, and they were both much more personal than your typical tourist safari (and they cost less too)!