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Volunteer Reviews

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.