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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 

Volunteers' Stories

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angela-spencer          

ANGELA SPENCER
British

Volunteering at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
         

I am 57 years old and last year I worked as a volunteer with elephants in Sri Lanka. This year I chose South Africa.

I am not a student, I am not doing this because I want to be a vet, I am doing this because I have always loved animals and I now have the money and the time to spend my vacations volunteering.

South Africa was a country I had always been interested in so this year I chose the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in KwaZuluNatal, Durban.

I knew it would be hard work, but I was prepared for it. I was not wrong, It was incredibly hard, manual work but I loved every minute. Cleaning out cages and holdings and feeding the animals in their care.

The people who work there, Este, Sue, Kelly, Courtney and the ground staff are so dedicated, they are permanently on the go, either rescuing or releasing the animals they have saved and reared. Some are too badly injured and have to be put down, but they do this with such care and gentleness. I cannot speak too highly of these wonderful human beings.

I had so many positive and interesting cases it is difficult to choose just one. Do I choose the story of Goofy and her mate (Hardidar's) who fell in love with my red work boots, so much so that they used to go out of their way to find me and peck and bite me and my boots. They used to dive bomb me when I was feeding other animals and I nicked named them "She Devils".

Or about the Egyptian Geese and their goslings I helped rescue from a tower block. They are now in one of Crows large caged areas with their own pool and 2 meals a day with added "greens". They will be taken further north and released by a huge lake.

I think one of my most touching and favourite memories will be Kiley (a young Baboon). There were three in their own large cage within a compound of larger Baboons so they could be introduced into the troupe safely. I was trying to feed Tank the baby of the bunch his milk when Kiley sat on my knee holding on to my body, I stroked her as I was feeding a very mischievous Tank and when I finally gave up I noticed that Kiley had fallen asleep.

It was also a very rewarding moment when the Baboons came and turned their backs to me, presenting me their bottoms. I found this amusing and mentioned it to one of the nursing staff who informed me that I was being accepted as a friend and they were offering themselves to me to preen and groom.

Feeding the Mongoose was always a laugh as I tried to place their trays of food in their Pen while they were scenting my boots (this is where they rub their back ends and bodies over something they want to leave their smell on). I often ended up trying to walk with three mongoose attached to each foot.

I could go on for ever, this has been such an amazing time. I will never forget this experience and I miss them all terribly.

I loved every minute but it was very hard work, which I expected, but I think some placements go with the idea that they are just going to pet the animals - it certainly wasn't like that.

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