Have you seen any of these animals?
Well here is a unique chance to not only see them but also help us to ensure their survival.
All these mammals are critically endangered and little is known about their life patterns as to date there has been very little research conducted on them. The Tikki Hywood trust is working to change that. We are breaking new ground by successfully breeding these animals in captivity and releasing them into what was once their natural habitat.
Release animals are micro chipped and/or radio collared allowing their progress to be monitored and vital data to be collected. Ecovolunteers will be directly involved in looking after animals in release bomas, as well as tracking and monitoring in the field. Which species you monitor will depend on the breeding and release cycles of the animals at the time of your visit.
The Mavuradonha site is situated just 180km north of Harare within a privately run wildlife conservation area of more than 600sqkm of pristine wilderness totally unpopulated since the Bushman and Monomatapa Empires.
All our species are listed as endangered species and CITES has placed them on either Appendix I or II. Zimbabwe has placed them on the Specially Protected List, and South Africa has put them in the Red Data Book. Without our help they all face extinction.
African Wild Cat – taller, slimmer and more agile than the domestic cat, these beautiful tabby coloured cats have striped legs and ringed tails. The African Wild cat is to the domestic cat what the wolf is to the domestic dog.
Serval – the cat with the spots and stripes! Large rounded ears with a distinctive black band will help you find these agile bird catchers.
Civet – jaws like a hyena, shoulders like a bear, tail like a crocodile, are you sure you want to get close to this guy?
Pangolin – practically prehistoric, this scaled ant and termite eater hasn’t changed his look for generations as he is perfectly adapted for his job.
Aardwolf – Also known as “earth wolf” they are not just a made up word, they really do exist -come and see for yourself!
Southern African Hedgehog – Prickly balls of grub eating cuteness!
Genet – Now here’s a challenge – a nocturnal tree climber with camouflage better than the SAS. These long lithe cat-like creatures are sought after for their beautiful coats but you’ll be lucky if you see more than a flick of his long tail disappearing into the night.
Both release sites encompass beautiful miombo and mushanje woodlands filled with aloes, euphorbia’s, proteas, orchids, water berry, palms and wild fruit. The abundant water and lush vegetation supports wild populations of elephant, sable, buffalo, eland, kudu, zebra, reedbuck, bushbuck, bushpigs, warthogs, baboons, leopard, African Civet, serval and many other species.
These are true wilderness areas with no roads or electricity, the only way around is on foot or horse back, so as a volunteer you will need to climb the steep granite kopjes and delve deep into the river valleys to find your subjects. This is real adventure tracking – no spotting the animals because they are surrounded by minibuses here!
You will need to fly to Harare International Airport, where we can meet you and transfer you to the project base in Harare. All transfers will be an additional cost to the volunteers.
From Harare you will transfer to the Mavuradonha release site 180km North of Harare.
The project will be open year round with a maximum of four volunteers at any one time.
Minimum stay will be three weeks, your itinerary will vary depending on the release and monitoring activities ongoing at the time of your visit.
Please note that the release sites are rather isolated so it will not always be possible for family or friends to contact you directly.
At Mavuradonha you will stay at the self contained project apartment, a cook will provide simple meals and basic housekeeping duties. Hot water is available, but no electricity so bring torches with lots of batteries . Lighting in the evening is provided by paraffin lamps.
As some activities may involve overnight camping a sleeping bag, mosquito net and mat are also required.
Depending on the project’s needs and your experience and skills we will ask you to be involved in any or all of the following activities:
- Monitoring and husbandry of animals in release bomas: feeding and watering, manure collection and analysis, fence maintenance, recording kill evidence and prey species within the boma, checking spoor around boma perimeter
- Tracking and locating animals which have been released using the telemetry collars – this may require you to be able to ride a horse
- In field data collection and then entering the information onto our database
- Community education: go into the local schools and assist with our ongoing program to educate the children about the importance of these animals within their environment
- General camp maintenance: mending fences, work the camp, firebreaks, roads
- Anti-poaching patrols: within the conservation areas we monitor and actively discourage poaching, boundaries have to be patrolled regularly on horseback and on foot and snares collected. This may involve overnight camping in the bush.
- Genuine love of and concern for animals and the environment
- Minimum age 18
- You must be able to read, write and speak English
- You must be in good physical condition as you will be expected to ride or walk long distances in the bush
- It would be a distinct advantage to be able to ride a horse
- Ability to work as part of a team, flexibility and co-operation
- Understanding and willingness to adapt to Zimbabwe’s unique situation – we are a country where much help is needed to maintain and reinvent what is left of our dwindling wildlife resources. You as an ecovolunteer can make a serious and worthwhile impact on many of these facets.
(all images copyright Tikki Hywood Trust)