Country bumpkins go large in South Africa

Courtney and Alicia Start Date: May 25, 2016 - End Date: Feb 23, 2017
  • Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa

My Travel Story

by: Courtney and Alicia Start Date: May 25, 2016 - End Date: Feb 23, 2017

You are probably wondering what a country bumpkin is; well a bumpkin is a socially awkward person from the countryside, however we are not technically true bumpkins. We are two 18 year olds who live in a small country town in south-west of Scotland who are pursuing a gap year to volunteer at a once in a 'wildlife'-time conservation programme in South Africa.            

The wildlife conservation programme is on the Shamwari game reserve, situated in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. This area historically had an abundance of wild game roaming free with one of the richest wildlife areas on the African continent. However, the great heard of Knysna Forest elephants were almost totally eradicated and in 1931 there were only 11 elephants remaining. Miraculously, the man most responsible for nearly wiping out an entire species had a dramatic change of heart and spent the remainder of his life fighting for a safe haven to conserve these rare and wonderful animals. The same thing happened with the rare mountain zebras. Over time, a delicate and systematic re-introduction programme was launched, bringing the first lions back to the Eastern Cape and releasing them at Shamwari to fulfil a dream. Today over 5000 game range freely, having been bred and/or re-introduced into Shamwari. It is important to maintain such a vital project to ensure the continued conservation of these delicate species.

This opportunity will provide a great chance for us to develop potential future careers as a veterinary nurse and a wildlife photographer as well as experiencing a new way of life. We will have the chance to help with game monitoring, assisting at the born free big cat sanctuary, analyse data findings and looking after orphaned animals at the wildlife rehabilitation centre which will equally contribute the animals welfare and survival while assisting us with gaining invaluable work experience.

After doing extensive voluntary work in our local town, we think it would be beneficial to volunteer in South Africa as it is a developing country and we would enjoy the experience of contributing to a continental cause. We also chose South Africa as it has an extensive biodiversity of animals that we cannot get up close to in Scotland, thus proving us a once in a life time opportunity to really experience what these animals have to offer in their natural habitat.

Furthermore, we feel this project is extremely important in its role of protecting endangered species from extinction and monitoring the hopefully, continued growing abundance of the animals.

Thank you for taking the time to read about our campaign. 
  • Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa