The Mapesu Volunteer Programme is not just a “voluntourism” programme; it is more than seeking out ‘the big 5’, it is actually about helping conservation — it is looking at trees, insects, birds, tracks, all the smaller details that create the African savannah. Volunteers get to experience a ‘behind the scenes’ view of how a game reserve in South Africa is conserved. Each volunteer leaves having created a small legacy in helping to re-wild a part of nature. All activities are meaningful: from understanding the home-ranges of impala so we can ensure they have sufficient grass and water particularly in the winter months; to monitoring the cheetahs to find out their hunting patterns; to scientific studies; and to generally helping on the reserve with removing the old cattle fences and troughs.
Most activities gives us a greater understanding on the ecology of Mapesu; this helps in knowing how many animals we need to introduce, whether we are increasing the grazing capacity and how great our biodiversity actually is so that we can take the correct actions to conserve it.
We have now partnered up with Panthera, the largest global big cat conservation organisation. Panthera conducts an annual camera trap survey on nature reserves in South Africa to get an estimate of the status of leopard populations. We are privileged to be included in this important survey.
So far we have hosted veterinary students from the UK already and a volunteer from Puerto Rico, our next volunteer, is arriving in December from the Netherlands. We have been receiving a lot of interest; new partnerships created with agents and universities (Edinburgh University, Glasgow University, Liverpool University, and Royal Veterinary College) and bookings are being made for 2019. The programme is open to all ages, and we welcome people from all backgrounds; from those who just have an interest in conservation and would like to help, up to those that are studying for their Ph.D. in conservation.
If you would like more information on our programme send Amy an email email@example.com