Contribution starting at $3,795
Exported from Streamline App (https://app.streamlineicons.com)
16 days (avg. $237 a day) Includes accommodations, food, and all related research costs
Wildlife & Ecosystems

Walking With African Wildlife

Location
Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa Map it
Lead Scientist
Activity Level
Very Active
Accommodations
Wilderness Camp
Food
Chef-prepared meals
Sunset in African wildlife reservation
Two zebras grazing in the Africa savanna
Volunteers gathering on an African wildlife reservation
African Primate hugging a tree
Volunteers capturing data in Africa
Mother and baby elephant walking across a road in Africa
African wildlife spotted from a distance through vegetation
Sunset in African wildlife reservation
Two zebras grazing in the Africa savanna
Volunteers gathering on an African wildlife reservation
African Primate hugging a tree
Volunteers capturing data in Africa
Mother and baby elephant walking across a road in Africa
African wildlife spotted from a distance through vegetation

With your help, Earthwatch researchers are working to ensure the ongoing health of a major South African wildlife preserve.


Volunteers observing african white rhino in the wild

The Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in South Africa is a magnificent landscape of rolling savanna woodland and is the oldest game reserve in Africa. In the early 20th century it was the last refuge for the southern white rhino, safeguarding a population that was reported to be less than 30 individuals. Now the historic, 350-square mile (900-square-kilometer) park harbors a healthy population of 2,068 white rhinos, as well as black rhinos, giraffes, elephants, kudu, impala, wildebeest, zebras, and others– a veritable ark of African biodiversity.

All of these large herbivores, in their teeming numbers, have an impact on the structure and diversity of the ecosystem. If any one of these species’ populations grows big enough that the park’s resources can’t support it, known as overpopulation, it could mean massive destruction to their habitat and instability to the other wildlife populations it supports. Therefore, monitoring trends in the large herbivore populations as well as in predator species is necessary in order to see if and when management intervention is necessary. Although the wildlife is mostly left to regulate themselves, when scientists and managers notice an imbalance or that a species with a high conservation value has begun to decline, then management action is needed to maintain the health of the ecosystem.

You can join Dr. Dave Druce and a team of researchers and staff in an ongoing survey of the 15 largest herbivores in the park, thereby contributing to a long-term database of population trends and supporting effective management and decision-making. This is a rare chance to walk through scenery most people only see from a Land Rover. In the evening, you’ll gather around the campfire under southern constellations to share the day's encounters.

 

A Typical Itinerary

  • Day 1: Meet in Richard’s Bay, travel to camp, orientation
  • Day 2: Complete training, receive equipment, prepare for hiking
  • Day2 3-8: Walks to survey animals, data analysis
  • Day 9: Recreational day 
  • Days 10-15: Walks to survey animals, data analysis
  • Day 16: Departure

HOW YOU WILL HELP

While traversing the African wilderness, you will:

Field conditions and research needs can lead to changes in the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

Volunteers hiking in the African savanna
Hike to track rhinos, giraffes, kudus, and other animals

You'll spend most of your expedition trekking through the savanna with expert wildlife guides, observing and noting the location of every animal you see. You'll walk six to nine miles per day.

Volunteer analyzing data while hiking in the field
Analyze Data

For about an hour a day, you will catalog the counts of animals you collected during your hikes.

FEEDBACK & QUESTIONS

5 Reviews on this Expedition

If you have been on this expedition, others considering attending would love to hear about your experience.
Jeanne Suttie | April 16, 2018
The stars must have been aligned perfectly for my first time to South Africa, but not my last. This expedition is life changing. The scientists, rangers, staff, fellow volunteers- of course the herbivores and carnivores made this an experience of a lifetime. The best review that I can give is that I would do it again in a New York Minute!
Elizabeth Phillips | November 14, 2016
It is not often that an experience surpasses what I am expecting, but Walking with African Wildlife did. It is truly a breathtaking adventure and the fantastic scientists and field staff not only love and care about what they are doing very much, they care about how you get to experience it as well. The rewards are extraordinary, but there's effort too. The walks can be long or tricky or both. Some transects are VERY steep (and I am an experienced hiker). Make sure you train well. The landscape in the park is quite different from south to north. Southern Imfolozi is more like the hot savannah that we expect Africa to be, while northern Hluhluwe is mountainous and often misty. Both sections are abundant with wildlife, and from one day to the next you never know what you might see. On my very first transect we encountered elephants, lions and a hyena within the first five minutes! On the other hand, while several of my team mates saw a lot of feisty black rhinos, I saw only one. What you are sure to see a lot of are white rhino because this park has done a fantastic job of building their numbers back up. By the time our fortnight was up I loved those guys to bits. I wanted to run up and hug them all (but I didn't -- not recommended!) At other times you might be bumping along a winding track only to have a herd of elephant, 20-30 members strong, suddenly step into view and munch their way through the forest so close to the vehicle it takes your breath away. Go for it!
Frances Bills | October 6, 2016
The opportunity to walk in the African bush accompanied only by an armed Zulu ranger for 4 to 5 hours every morning is a life changing, educational, spiritual experience. You will sleep in a small tent while listening to lions in the distance. You will get to know amazing Zulu rangers and camp workers. If you are friendly and open, you will become good friends despite the language barriers. Learning Zulu greetings is helpful. If you are in reasonable shape and listen to the ranger you are with, you will be safe, even in the presence of rhinos, Cape buffalo, elephants, lions and leopards. Really, I promise. You are in shape for this trip if you can walk 4 to 5 hours at about 2 miles/hour on grassy or uncut paths in a park with at least some rather steep hills while carrying a small pack with about 2 liters of water and a camera and binoculars around your neck. If you do not have access to steep hills, add the stair master or walking up and down the stairs at home multiple times in a row daily. Although it is not on the packing list, I recommend you bring one lightweight, folding walking stick. I also recommend leather gardening gloves which will not overheat your hands but will help you climb a tree if needed. The ranger will help you into a tree. If you are a woman, buy a Go Girl a few months before you leave and practice using it in the shower. It’s really handy being able to relieve yourself like a man when out in the bush. If you truly want to experience African wildlife, you must go on this trip.

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