Écovolontariat en Afrique du Sud : Rapport mensuel
Southern Africa Conservation - Monthly Update July - August 2015
During July and August we were lucky enough to spot hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) on a dead zebra (Equus quagga), a Cape porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis), African civet (Civettictis civetta), and bush-pigs (Potamochoerus larvatus) coming to eat the scraps from the kitchen. We also saw many giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) drinking in the waterhole, leopard (Panthera pardus) stalking impalas (Aepycers melampus), the young brown hyenas (Parahyaena brunnea) watching the volunteers during the camera trap activities and so much more. We are very grateful to the 43 volunteers who came to help us at the Conservation project.
The volunteers enjoy the mammal census. It is an opportunity for them to experience the bush in a different way, while they sit under the stars to observe rare, shy and nocturnal species while they listen closely the sound of the bush. Volunteers use a red light – a non-invasive light for wildlife – to see the animal coming to drink or eat the leftovers from the kitchen. They record what they hear or see on a data sheet.
Building the ground hide and the waterhole
Near a nice natural spring the owners decided to build a new ground hide. Elephants, antelopes and predators love this site to come and drink the fresh water coming from the ground. The first step was to clean the area and make it as flat as possible; secondly we dug a hole and used concrete to secure the poles into the ground to create the structure of the hide. After that we wrapped some shade cloth around the poles and on the roof. The shade cloths were sewn together with the wire of the structure for maximum stability.
Volunteers were involved in all of these steps, but sewing the shade cloths to the wire was the most challenging duty for our young volunteers. The last step was to camouflage the hide with branches to make it as natural as possible and make sure the animals were not afraid of this new “building”.
Water is the most important ingredient for life in Africa and creating a new permanent waterhole was one of our biggest challenges. It is not finished, but hopefully in less than two months the water will be flowing in our new waterhole. Creating a new waterhole is a difficult job. Firstly we had to dig and the ground is hard and dry so using picks and shovels is a really hard activity. When the shape of the waterhole is as required we start to reinforce with big rocks and sand. After that we reinforce even more of the structure with poles and wire to make sure the waterhole is strong enough for elephants and their heavy weight.
When the structure is complete, we will need to collect massive quantities of sand and rocks for the cement. The cement will be applied on the structure to allow the waterhole to be waterproof; this step will take up to at least one complete day. After that we will need to dig a trench from the waterhole to the pump, at least 80cm deep. A pipe is placed inside the trench and connected between the waterhole and the solar pump. After that the water will flow directly into our new waterhole for the happiness of the wildlife and the amazed volunteers!