White Lions, Volunteering in South Africa.
It’s already some time since I have told you about my first days in Hoedspruit, South Africa. (HERE you’ll find the post, in case you have missed it.)
I was participating as a volunteer on a project that is specialized on the protection and the reintroduction of the White Lions, an endangered species in the Timbavati area.
Here is my personal experience on what I’ve learned during my time at the Global White Lion Protection Trust and my personal take-home-message:
❁ I have been constantly given food for thoughts, also about things I have never ‘wasted’ as single thought on (speaking of the non-conventional usage of certain plants, animal excretions, traces and tracks).
❁ I have learned so much about the eco-system, South African wildlife and conservation.
❁ We have done things we weren’t aware they were still practiced (cutting grass with a sickle) and things we’ve never done before, such as cutting trees only with an axe (it turned out to be major fun!) or plant a compost.
❁ I have seen things my stomach was not prepared for: preparing food for the lions (what they would normally eat in the wildlife) or watching lions eating a hippo in Kruger Nationalpark.
❁ I have partly conquered my arachnophobia. Note: If you suffer from arachnophobia, you might want to skip that paragraph!
I say partly, but it improved after that evening we had the second day in a row a huge spider (Solifuge, in case you want to discover something disgusting) in our kitchen. Pretty scary moment, but I survived thanks to my dear friend Daniela! ♥
❁ We have worked together with the White Lions and saw them really, really close in wildlife. I will never forget that moment, when our open van was parked in the large area and the two White Lions were passing it on the same side I was sitting. It felt like I could touch them when I just reached out with my left hand. (Which I did not do, of course!!) But it was such an intense moment. Curiosity, respect, anxiety, fascination, all mixed up in just a millisecond. Crazy!
❁ I learned to take things with serenity and don’t stress about small things. Neither insects in the kitchen or cold showers in the morning. 😉
Would I do it again and recommend it to others? ABSOLUTELY! I think everyone can take something good away and gain meaningful experience for themselves! I don’t know about other volunteer projects, but where we have been, we were warmly welcomed and enjoyed a familiar atmosphere and had a lot of fun besides working!
I don’t say I came home as a completely new person, but it definitely changed certain ways of thinking and gave me a bit of serenity. And I hope it will last a bit longer until I start complaining on a high comfort level. 😉
Just open your eyes and watch your way, you never know what you might see. Like this cute little baby turtle, that was crossing our way.
Such a bumpy ride. But I loved the car, as we had the best view ever when doing our daily lion checks.
Snacking on marula fruits. For those of you who love Amarula cream (it is similar to Baileys cream): it is made out of these marula fruits. You can also buy home-made “marula beer” on the road, which tastes similar to cider.
The perfect spot for sundowner. Whenever time permitted we were watching the sunset or sunrise (or sometimes both).
Have you seen White Lions before? Did some of you take part in a volunteer program or are you planning on doing that? Let me know in the comments below. I am curious to read about you experience and plans! 🙂