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Getting to know elephants in South Africa

Kathryn volunteered with elephants before starting college where she will study zoology with a hope to work with endangered species one day.

Kathryn with a baby elephant on her placement in South Africa with PoD"The whole experience was beyond amazing; the most amazing experience of my life!

I arrived after a long and tiring flight to George airport in the afternoon. As I walked out of the doors I immediately saw a man holding a sign waiting for me. We drove back to the park while he explained as much as he could about what the park and placement was like. Once we arrived I was driven to the local grocery and given time to get some food for the following week. I was surprised how many things I was able to find so easily. Being a vegetarian I was unsure of how many options I would have, but there were more than enough! The next day I was given a tour of the park and an introduction to the ellies. From then on I was given a schedule from 7am to 5pm Monday through Friday. Weekends we were able to do anything we wanted to and arranging transportation was very easy. By my last week I was not ready to leave. I wanted to stay a few weeks longer! Saying good bye to my new family was difficult but I know that I will always have the memories in my heart.

A typical day starts at 7am. Everyday your daily schedule is different and may begin in the boma or out in the field. In the boma you help clean up the elephant night enclosure with the boma guys and collect dung samples for the lab. If you start out in the field you follow the ellies out in the field with the guides. About every two hours you get a break for breakfast, lunch and data. In the field you may be assigned to do Activity budget on a specific elephant. For this you follow the elephant for two hours and note all her/his behaviours such as walking, feeding, drinking, touching tourist and so on. This helps the research team know how much time each elephant spends on daily activities. After 5pm the ellies are put into the boma for the night and you are free to do whatever you want. A few nights a week you are responsible for pulling browse into the boma at 7:45 with a few other volunteers.

The most rewarding part of the project is being with the elephants every day and getting to know so many people from different cultures.

The most challenging part of the project is choosing what to do on the weekends. There is so much to do!

PoD was very helpful and answered any questions I had. I plan to do another project next July if possible through PoD and would recommend them to everyone of all ages."

Kathryn Coates' placement was arranged with PoD.

An elephant herd in South Africa

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Comments

Adam Boatman

I just posted a comment on another story and then I read this one. Both stories sounded like the most amazing time ever! Elephants are so majestic and just wonderful, beautiful creatures. I absolutely need to experience this to make my life complete and I know I would be returning several times. I want to experience this more than anything else in life I just need help getting pushed out the door.
Comment made: Tuesday 12th November 2013

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