In the impressive setting of the Big 5 St Lucia Wetlands Park area, this unique programme offers photography enthusiasts the opportunity to get a different perspective on Africa. Our Wildlife Photography and Conservation Education project offers a varied range of photography and conservation components. Volunteers will start with an in-depth orientation, followed by an intensive 3 day photography course with a professional wildlife photographer to improve on your photography skills. A further 3 weeks will be spent photographing the phenomenal wildlife in the renowned local National Parks, which boast all of Africa's Big 5 (Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo and Leopard).
This project is ideally situated on the fringes of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in St Lucia, a beautiful area that was declared as South Africa’s first Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and which is called by many “Africa’s premier bush-and-beach destination”. Encompassing almost half a million acres, it is a stunning and ecologically diverse area, where five different eco-systems join, and where you find savannahs, wetlands, swamps, beaches, and a great wealth of wildlife. The area is home to the Zulu tribe, a group of people with a very lively and colourful culture. It is within this impressive setting that we offer you the opportunity to improve your photography skills, to photograph the phenomenal wildlife in the area, and to help raise awareness in the local community about the importance of conservation.
The project will run for 4 weeks.
This project has a number of long-term aims to raise awareness and help preserve the precious African environment:
- Creating a Photographic Database:
In association with the Green Vision Foundation, we aim to create a complete photographic database, and use it for educational purposes. The aim is to document and preserve iSimangaliso as a key heritage site of Southern Africa. As a volunteer you will contribute to this goal by taking photos of the different species of flora and fauna, some of the 526 species of birds that exist in the Wetlands area, local conservation issues, and the unique eco-systems of the area.
On this project we provide a varied programme of bush walks and game drives in order to maximize photo opportunities. Alongside the Green Vision Foundation, we have also identified that in order to preserve indigenous plant life and wildlife, it is essential to get local communities involved. What is lacking in current educational syllabi is a detailed photographic database of the wildlife in the St. Lucia area.
As a volunteer, your photographs will be put towards a database of wildlife, landscapes and environmental issues to help educate local schools about nature and the precious environment that surrounds them. This project is a unique opportunity to encounter some of Africa’s most beautiful animals on a daily basis, to improve your photography skills, as well as to contribute to conservation efforts.
- Photograph of the Month/Year:
Every month, a jury of professional wildlife photographers will review all the volunteers’ best photographs and select the best picture. The winner of the Photograph of the Month will be framed and put on our picture wall in the volunteer house. In addition, it will be put on our website. At the end of each year the same jury will select a picture of the year with a prize given to the winning photographer.
- Community and Medical Project Database:
To track progress of the fantastic community work volunteers on our education and medical projects are doing, you will sometimes be given the opportunity to join other projects for half a day to capture images of the volunteers at work. This provides a good opportunity to practice different types of photography techniques and helps us keep a visual database of progress on our projects in the surrounding communities. You can of course also join in playing with the children or painting a building!
- Conservation Education and Activities:
In partnership with the local village chief (Induna) and the National Parks, volunteers will be assisting in a number of exciting conservation initiatives in surrounding areas:
* Conservation Education in Schools – As a volunteer, you will visit the local high school each week and deliver a class/workshop about the reason for, and methods of conservation to the children in the after school Conservation Club. You will also, along with a conservation education syllabus, use our photography database to do this.
* Conservation Field Trips - In addition, you may take local school children into the bush on field trips. By experiencing the World Heritage Site and its wildlife for themselves, the children will learn to appreciate the area they live in, and get a better understanding of why these efforts are being made. It will also provide them with a fun and relaxing day out; something they don’t experience often!
* Conservation in Action – Volunteers To enhance awareness of UNESCO’s objectives and methods, as well as conservation efforts in general, it is vital to involve and educate St. Lucia’s local community. Volunteers will be involved in a number of activities such as regeneration of the local village back to its natural state, planting of indigenous trees, clearing the pan (natural pond) to encourage indigenous species back to their original habitat and assisting with the local conservation efforts at the nearby crocodile centre.
- Improve your photography skills in a 3 day intensive course taught by an experienced professional wildlife photographer
- Spend many hours in the bush, taking pictures of the Big 5 on game drives
- Learn and photograph smaller species of flora and fauna on bush walks
- Help to create a photo database for awareness and educational purposes
- Help raise awareness in the local community about the importance of conservation
- Get involved in local conservation projects within a World Heritage Site
- Immerse yourself in the local Zulu culture
- Make friends for life.
Optional activities and excursions:
- Weekend Photography Tour to the Drakensberg Mountains
- Game drives in the beautiful Hluhluwe and Umfolozi National Parks
- Visits to the beach, and snorkelling at Cape Vidal
- Whale, dolphin and sea turtle viewing (seasonal)
- Deep sea fishing
- Boat cruises on the St. Lucia Estuary
- Weekend trips to the stunning Phinda Private Game Reserve
- Weekend trips swimming with dolphins in Mozambique.
Where will I sleep?
During your placement, you will stay at our large and comfortable project house situated in St. Lucia located a 10 min walk to the beach. It is a fully furnished house with a large lounge, satellite television, barbeque area, garden, swimming pool, and a jacuzzi. The house is staffed with cooks and laundry/cleaning ladies. All bedding is provided, so you will not need to bring a sleeping bag with you, although sometimes it is useful in the colder months (June – September). You will be sharing a bedroom with one to four people. Members of our team will be staying on the same property, so that they are always available to assist you with any questions or issues you may have.
We find that volunteers living together and working closely together with their volunteer coordinators is the surest way of ensuring their safety, and of being able to attend to their most pressing needs. For this reason, we expect all volunteers to stay only in the accommodation provided for them and do not allow volunteers to spend nights away in the town or nearby villages, unless they are away on pre-arranged sightseeing excursions.
You will be provided with three meals a day. Breakfast is on a help-yourself basis and usually consists of cereals, toast, tea and coffee. Lunch and dinner are full meals, and will be cooked for you by one of our chefs at your volunteer house.
Note: If you leave early in the morning for your photography project, which is often the best time for good pictures, you will be given a packed breakfast.
How do I get there and travel around?
The nearest airport to St. Lucia is Richards Bay Airport, which is about a forty five minute drive from St. Lucia. There are daily flights from Johannesburg to Richards Bay and these can be booked online. You will be picked up from the airport by one of your project managers.
- The project fee entails financing that goes directly back into the project that you are involved with. It facilitates funding for items such as educational materials for the schools and tools for conservation work
- Transport between Richards Bay Airport and St. Lucia
- Orientation program, including a photography course administered by an experienced wildlife photographer
- All daily transfers to and from your projects during your stay
- Full board and lodging, which includes 3 meals a day at our volunteer house
- Laundry service during your stay
- Assistance at your projects by our staff and volunteer coordinators
- Any visits to other programmes based in St. Lucia.
- What is the minimum stay: 4 weeks
- Where exactly is it: St. Lucia, East Coast of South Africa
- What will I be doing: Helping to create an educational database of wildlife photography.
Prices from: £1645/€2140/$2960.
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