Research volunteering with leopards in South Africa
Description from the holiday company
Research volunteering with leopards in South Africa: the story of this holiday company
When my wife Carol and I had the idea to form a safari company and help raise money for conservation, we had already enjoyed many standard African Safaris ourselves. While enjoyable, we found that we were always left wanting something more than simply being shown animals and nice accommodation. Of-course we wanted both those things, but also to go a little further. We wanted to break through the tourist rhetoric and get to know the real African bush. And so we formed our safari company to do exactly that....
Responsible tourism: Research volunteering with leopards in South Africa
We believe that everyone is able to help make a difference towards conserving our environment. When in the bush, we operate a policy of ‘bring out what you take in’ ie. we leave no litter or man made products behind. Game drive vehicles should not deviate from existing roads and tracks. When on foot, stay on the trail as deviating can cause erosion and other environmentally harmful impacts.
Respect wildlife. Our research may bring you in close proximity to wild animals, viewing animals from a safe distance is fine, however touching, feeding, or affecting their behaviour is not.
Do not litter. Even if you see a local person littering (and you probably will), set an example and dispose of your garbage appropriately. Recycling facilities are extremely limited in South Africa. Avoid products with excess packaging; opt for beverages in glass bottles, as they tend to be re-used. Use only biodegradable soaps and shampoos.
One of the biggest issues in Africa is water conservation. Preservation of this most important resource is at the top of our agenda. Our guests are able to contribute towards water conservation during their stay. For example taking showers not baths, conserving water from a reduction in the laundering of towels and linens.
Our base operates on a carbon neutral basis with solar power. Water is derived from a mountain fountain and wastewater is locally treated before use in irrigation. As per our code of conduct, only biodegradable washing products are permitted.
Guests are responsible for their own laundry and water usage is controlled. In general, locally sources foods are purchased. The accommodation lies within an area of abundant natural resources in terms of agriculture, therefore it is possible to purchase directly from the grower. We only cater for small groups of up to six persons and minimise vehicle use at all times. No off road or bush driving is permitted and all research is conducted on foot.
We do not believe in wasting any resources and therefore the administration stationery and equipment of both our company and the Ingwe Leopard Project is minimised. We do not produce brochures or any other printed material and operate only through magnetic media and the internet.
Carbon emissions from this project are limited to vehicle use. While we take every effort to minimise vehicle use, we have need to offset our carbon emissions.
We believe that responsible tourism should include opportunities for travellers to become involved with wildlife conservation at a reasonable price. Our package is aimed at providing travellers with an opportunity to become actively involved in wildlife conservation and help us to make a real difference.
This program has been devised to provide actual support to the PAW Conservation Trust, by inviting guests to help with leopard and other large carnivore research. This research is urgently required to help conserve and preserve wildlife outside of formally protected areas. This work has already succeeded in persuading local government to ban sports hunting of leopards in our local area. With assistance from guests and research volunteers we can provide authoritative data to assist in policy changes with regard to wildlife management in South Africa.
The leaders of the project are locally based individuals who have been actively involved and are experienced in leopard research.
When purchasing food, meals, and souvenirs, we recommend that guests buy locally produced goods and support local artisans. In this way, you are able to help sustain the local community, contribute towards conservation, and enrich their own lives. Respect cultural differences. Local customs and traditions may be different from your own. Take the time to learn what behaviour is acceptable and what is not.