A See-and-Study-Wildlife Vacation
Instead of merely driving around in search of wildlife to gape at, a major South African wildlife centre offers the opportunity to observe rescued animals up close in their enclosures while studying methods of saving and preserving the natural bush veld and its creatures.
Rescued rhinos, elephants, cheetahs, wild dogs, lions, African wild cats, bald ibises, blue cranes, ground hornbills, sable antelope and wildlife are the featured guests, but human visitors are invited to encounter and care for them through the Wildlife Conservation Experience of the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre in South Africa. In an extensive three week program of lectures and hands-on experience, participants observe the everyday care of the creatures, study conservation, and tour wildlife areas.
Many of the animals on site in the nature preserve have been rescued from trauma ― orphaned, caught in snares, mutilated for their horns. While being treated, healed, rehabilitated, they can be observed up close or watched from live action cams which also broadcast online. Some guests “adopt” favorites and participate in their long term care.
Participants stay in luxury villas of Camp Jubulani, a Relais and Chateau property within the Kapama Private Game Reserve. Each suite has a separate lounge area with a mini-bar and fire-place. Pure cotton sheets, massive stone tubs, glass-enclosed outdoor showers are other amenities. The cuisine fuses taste with local ingredients.
Besides studying conservation and ecology, volunteers can take part in quad biking, paint ball games, environmental spa treatments, and game drives in open safari vehicles or on elephant back. Excursions to visit Jessica the Hippo can be arranged.
Hoedspruit which originated as the sheep and cattle farm of Willie Schurrmann is now operated by his daughter Lente Roode whose love of wildlife started at age six when the family rescued an orphaned baby cheetah which became a beloved family pet. She and her husband acquired adjoining land and when predators made it difficult to raise cattle, they converted their farm to the 30,000 acre Kapama Game Reserve which has become one of the leading breeding and study centers for endangered animals.
Photos by Sharon King Hoge, Allen and Heidi Roberts