So, it’s your gap year, and you’re itching to see the world? Volunteering, or voluntouring, as it’s become popularly known as, is not only a great way to travel, but it also gives meaning to your globetrotting.
Unique travel experiences and adventure is what most of today’s school-leavers say they prefer. Over 80% are choosing volunteer opportunities as a motivation for travelling. And it makes sense, for what better way to truly experience a place, its people and culture than to find volunteer work abroad.
A gap year is about taking time to gain some real-life experience before deciding what it is you want to do or be. It should be about discovering your passions, strengths and weaknesses so that you can approach your life’s career with better insight and empathy for others. Using your gap year to volunteer for a cause in need is a sure way to find out who you really are. As Mahatma Gandhi said: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
SPEND YOUR GAP YEAR VOLUNTEERING IN AFRICA
So, where do you want to lose yourself? Have you considered becoming a wildlife volunteer in Africa? With 1 million species now critically endangered, wildlife conservation efforts across the globe need all the help they can get.
So why not spend your gap year in the wild?
IMAGINE SPENDING YOUR GAP YEAR VOLUNTEERING IN THE WILD
At Rockwood, we offer a legitimate volunteering programme to help with our rhino conservation. We are committed to protecting Africa’s rhino species from going extinct. But we’re are running out of time. We need your help.
Here’s why you should volunteer for rhino conservation at Rockwood:
- 96% of Africa’s rhinos have been lost to poaching since the 1970s.
- Since 2013, South Africa has lost an average of 1000 rhinos every year to poaching. That is approximately one rhino killed every eight hours.
- There are roughly 20 000 southern white rhino left in Africa. But the species continues to decline rapidly with more being poached than being born. At Rockwood, we’ve bred over 100 white rhino calves since 2013 to help the population stabilise.
- The ongoing drought in African regions is exacerbating the rhino population decline causing an untold number of white rhino to die in certain areas.
- Many rhino custodians are giving up on protecting the species because of the massive cost and risks that go into rhino protection. But at Rockwood, we remain committed to preserving the southern white rhino with our ‘aggressive conservation’ approach.
- Reducing demand for rhino horn continues to be an ongoing battle because of the centuries-old Asian belief system that the horn has medicinal benefits. Rhino horn has also now gained popularity as a status symbol, causing an increase in poaching incidents over the past decade. If these beliefs don’t change, it is unlikely that rhino will survive in the wild. At Rockwood, we’re doing whatever it takes to ensure the species’ survival.
- But most importantly, how can you tell your grandchildren that you didn’t try to save the rhino?
MAKE YOUR GAP YEAR BENEFICIAL
The current rhino extinction crisis is not something we can throw money at and hope it goes away. It takes a lot of feet on the ground. Rockwood is one of the only rhino conservations that allow volunteers to work alongside our dedicated team of rangers, vets and scientists.
Do you have a passion for nature and animals? Are you not afraid of getting dirty? Then you can contribute to the protection and preservation of Africa’s rhinos and experience the most meaningful, life-changing experience you could ever wish for.
Don’t waste your gap year. Make it count by giving it purpose. Volunteer for rhino conservation today.
Rockwood offers a legitimate and reputable volunteering programme. As a volunteer, you will work closely with our experienced and professional rangers. Your daily tasks will vary, depending on the needs of the day. But you can expect to be involved in a variety of activities during your stay with us.
Your volunteer tasks will include:
- Feeding rhinos and other animals
- Monitor rhino health with rangers
- Upkeep of rhino camps
- Assist in data collection and capture
- Assist vets in dehorning, micro-chipping and pregnancy tests
- Provide care for orphaned rhino calves and any injured animals
- Check and maintain camera traps
- Clean and maintain horse stables
- Feed and care for horses
- Grooming and working with foals
- Check and maintain fences and gates
- Help kitchen staff prepare food
- Maintain vegetable garden
Other volunteer activities include:
- Learn to ride horses and join Rockwood’s rangers in monitoring rhinos on horseback
- Develop activities and lessons for local schools and community engagement
- Photograph and write about events and experiences at Rockwood
- Help capture data onto research database
Africa’s giraffe populations are quietly diminishing. Known as the “silent extinction”, 40% of giraffes have vanished since the 1980s. Where once the continent was teeming with these graceful giants, only 68 000 now remain. Like most other species, habitat loss, poaching and the effects of civil unrest threaten their survival.
In the late 1800s, about 850 000 black rhinos existed in Africa. But, due to unregulated killing, only 100 000 remained by 1960. By 1995, just 2410 black rhinos remained. However, Africa’s black rhino population has more than doubled since the 1990s. Could we finally be seeing a payoff to decades of committed rhino conservation?
After the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, many of China’s wet markets (where animals are sold as food or pets) were shut down. ‘Wildlife’ markets, on the other hand, sell live wild animals (often illegally obtained). The commercial sale of wild animals for pets, traditional medicines, or ornamental uses has not been outlawed.
From a population of around 10 000 white rhinos and 600 black rhinos in 2010, the numbers are now down to approximately 3 549 white rhinos and 268 black rhinos. Most rhinos were poached in Kruger National Park. If this trend continues, the entire rhino population currently protected by Kruger might be wiped out by 2030.
2020 hasn’t been easy for anyone — the effects of Covid-19 reached far and wide, and were felt in the realm of rhino conservation too. But, no matter what challenges come our way, we persevere and give our all to saving the Southern white rhino. We’d like to share nine conservation success stories from Rockwood for 2020.
We’re always looking for new ways to initiate rhino conservation. So when South Africa’s leading grill company, Megamaster, approached us about a collaboration, we were super excited. The key ingredient in Megamaster’s innovative new eco-friendly firelighter, called Rhino Balls, is our very own rhinos’ dung.