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Volunteer Reviews

Name: Julie
Country: France
Date: 2012, 2013, 2014

Looking for an eco-volunteering experience in South Africa ? I've got what you need ! I volunteer at Leo Africa . This association do a monitoring activity for Lions , Rhinos , Elephants , Leopards , hyenas and many other animals ! The goal is to keep an eyes one the balance of this large private reserve of 30,000 hectares. Volunteers go on drive twice per day to look for these majestic animals , especially lions. Our most precious ally is the telemetry ( antenna who lets you know the position of animals) ,so all volunteers learn how to use this tool to monitor lions, elephants and leopards who wear a collar. Volunteers have also the opportunity to spend a full day in the bush to check the condition and the location of Black Rhino ( endangered species ) . The day on the quad is an opportunity to discover the most remote areas of the reserve but also to discuss with your guide every aspect of wildlife that interests you. The two classic safaris are an opportunity for the staff of LEO to teach us a lot of things on vegetation , animal behavior ( predators, antelopes, rodents , hyenas, monkeys , birds ...... ) . Volunteers can also assist in the maintenance of the reserve ( repair roads, remove trunks blocking roads in the reserve ( dead tree or victims of the elephants) . LEO 's staff can also arrange for you a sleep out and bushwalk (experience to live once in your life) . So even if the safari ended in failure because we don't always find the animals, we always come back to base knowing a little more about the bush before our departure. Selati is a private reserve which offers luxury to LEO volunteers to be almost the only people allowed to drive in 30,000 hectares of bush . It allows us to observe the animals without being pressed by other vehicles. Last but essential ! If you are not very comfortable with English Leo is happy to have guides who speak Italian, French , German and everyone is full of goodwill to help you to be more and more comfortable. I share my experience with you because I took a long time to find a project that I was looking for. I finally found it, and I came to spend 2 months in Leo in November and December 2012. This experience was so great that I have been back other 2 months in June-July 2013 and planning to go back for a longer period in 2014!



Name: Matthew
Country: Northern Ireland
Date: 2013

LEO Africa provides a perfect balance between serious conservation and a fun, hands-on volunteer experience. Two drives a day are spent tracking a number of collared lions using telemetry and logging their positions and behaviour. On drive, volunteer duties include operating the telemetry equipment, filling in data sheets, spotting rare birds and mammals, occasional road repairs and more than occasional removal of trees that elephants have knocked over into the road! Some days will be spent tracking black rhinos on the back of a quad bike, with the chance of seeing one of these beautiful endangered animals! Free time in the middle of the day is usually spent relaxing on the deck or in the pool, reading up on birds and mammals or (most likely) playing cards with volunteers and staff! all the while you are living on a perfectly secluded game reserve, away from cars, tv, towns and tourists. You are also contributing to important conservation work and helping to protect endangered species. A worthwhile and really enjoyable experience, I would recommend it to anyone!



Name: Emanuele
Country: Italy
Date: 2013

I'm 35 and I spent all the month of August 2013 at LEO "Limpopo Eco Operations - Volunteers research programme" in South Africa. It was my first experience as a volunteer and it was utterly amazing. LEO is a wonderful association and the only one that offers volunteers the great opportunity of enjoying a real wildlife sanctuary natural reserve by learning about nature and all the animals. I would recommend this experience to everyone who loves nature and wishes to live an unforgettable adventure. It is suitable to all people independently from their age, where they come from, their culture and their ways of daily life. LEO's main activity is focused on monitoring Lions and Black Rhinos, but during your volunteer' activity you will come across in every kind of animal like white rhino, every species of antelope, colorful birds, eagles, vultures, giraffes, elephants and a huge quantity of many other animals that everyone dreams of to see in Africa. At LEO there is a well prepared staff to face up every situation making you feel at home, comfortable and in security. When you get LEO at your arrival, you will immediately receive a warm welcome and feel part of an amazing group of friendly people that are always ready to help you in every necessity of yours. LEO is located in the middle of one of the most beautiful wildlife sanctuary nature reserves in the world. Its name is Selati Game Reserve. This area is closed to the traditional tourism, its access is only allowed to LEO's volunteers and to nobody else. This last detail can already explain a lot of things to you, because you will be part of an environment thoroughly preserved from the human presence. As a volunteer you will be supporting the staff in lions monitoring activities, for instance you can learn to manage the telemetry, an instrument to follow the radio collar lion's signal, thus giving you a help to find out where that lion is located in the bush. You will be living in a house shared with other volunteers and the staff. This will give you one more chance to make a lot of new international friends. Friends that you won't forget for all your life and that may be you will wish to meet again in a next future. I would deeply suggest visiting LEO's website www.leoafrica.org to everyone interested in a wonderful new experience and do not hesitate to ask for any doubt or information you may need because you will know wonderful people such as LEO's manager Sabrina always ready to help you in the best possible way. Do not think over too much to be different from being only a tourist! I will never forget this adventure and all the people I made friends with!



Name: Katie
Country: United Kingdom
Date: 2013

If you want to see South Africa in a totally different way, LEO Africa is the place to go. With no tourists, it's just you and the wildlife, meaning you get to experience what life in the bush is really like! The main focus of the volunteer project is based around the pride of lions, and the days are spent tracking them using telemetry. Two long drives a day gives you plenty of time in the African bush, and there are lots of other exciting species that are often found when searching for the lions such as rhino, leopard, elephant, giraffe! In addition, you can also join the great and exclusive Black Rhino monitoring programme on the quad motorbike, where you will stay out all they day together with the LEO Guide, tracking and monitoring the condition of these rare and stunning animals. Every day is an adventure and you never know what the day is going to bring! Be warned however, YOU WILL FALL IN LOVE WITH THIS PLACE! I have been twice now and I will be going back as soon as time and budget allows. This project is amazing!



Name: Keith
Country: United Kingdom
Date: 2013

Personally I feel to get the most from a place like LEO, you have to go with an open mind and suppress any preconceived ideas. My time with LEO started with a tour of the base including where I was to sleep and a few basic rules that makes the operation run smoothly. I was introduced to other volunteers many of whom had spent time with LEO previously, which is reassuring for the new boy. That first phase of settling in can be quick and painless or uncomfortable and drawn out, I am happy to say with LEO it is quick and painless. The reason for this is down to how the LEO staff quickly make you feel one of the team. They are enthusiastic, fun, approachable and you feel valued and part of the programme unlike some similar programmes I have been part of where I have felt like a resource to be used but not involved and remain an outsider. There are schedules at LEO about the daily monitoring (a.m. and p.m.) taking place and what task has been allocated to you. There is telemetry and data recording roles every drive out and refreshment and meal duties. Every body mucks in and there are always plenty of people to assist you if you're telemetry virgin. On the Selati reserve there are a variety of animals fitted with monitoring devices providing data about the impact the species have on the environment and their neighbours. The main telemetry focus is aimed especially at the lions but also at leopards and elephants; while I was there we did try to obtain a visual of the collared leopard and although at times it was only a stone throw away, but it remained elusive. The drives although focussing on locating a certain animal, often provide little surprises which is the magic of being in the bush. One particular morning we surprised a large black mamba lying across the dirt road, which showed its displeasure of being disturbed by rearing up to the height of the vehicle bonnet before disappearing into the bush, then later while watching a group of elephants a young bull flexed his muscles with a short mock charge and a trumpet, he then turned and swaggered off, typical teenager but still impressive. The all day black rhino monitoring was a favourite of mine, while I was there I took part on 3 different occasions, although I didn't get to personally see one, but then again they are very special and it is something I look forward to seeing on a future visit. In contrast I was privileged to observe white rhino which gave me goose bumps every time I saw one. The accommodation is open to four legged visitors and a mischievous honey badger made a number of uninvited visits running off with various food ingredients. He's a bit of a Houdini, cracking deterrents that get more complex after each raid. There is a small water hole outside the dinning area where you can enjoy an afternoon siesta in the company of baboons and wart hogs. LEO are aware that many of the volunteers are on holiday and make arrangements for day or overnight excursions and Selati Game Reserve is a great base and location should you wish for a change or some variety during the trip. However long or short your stay at LEO you will part of the LEO family and be guaranteed an experience that will remain with you for a life time.



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