Adventures are hugely popular. So are baby animals. And a trip that combines them? An experience that any student travel group will treasure for a lifetime. Even seeing the photos of someone who has gone on such a trip is exciting.
But there’s one drawback with adventure travel: it can seem, well, soulless. After all, you come, you have a great time, you go home. You don’t make much of a lasting impact.
That’s what the African Conservation Experience is changing for student travelers – particularly for post-high-school (gap year) and college student travelers.
The African Conservation Experience’s Khulula Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
The Khulula Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, known as the Khulula Care for Wild, is devoted to the care of orphaned baby animals – hippos, serval cats, and especially rhinos. Khulula Care for Wild is one of South Africa’s largest specialist rhino care facilities. It works with Kruger National Park, caring for all the orphaned rhinos found within the park. Because the Park is hard-hit by poachers, this is quite an undertaking.
This is voluntourism at its most epically bucket-list form: travel to Africa, care for animals, and really make a difference. That’s good enough for any traveler, but student travelers get an additional bonus, especially if they are planning on going into zoology or veterinary medicine.
In addition to hands-on time with the animals – which we will discuss in a moment – volunteers also get to attend lectures on hand-rearing these wild creatures. They also get practical instruction in animal care and husbandry and the treatment of injured wildlife. Furthermore, they get the chance to put this knowledge into actual practice – talk about getting a head start on your chosen profession!
What Will Student Travelers Do at Khulula Care for Wild?
This is not a place to sit and snap picture from a comfy seat. Nor is it a chance to sleep in and then lazily wander out to feed rhino whenever the mood strikes. Make no mistake about it: the people who come to Khulula Care for Wild are here to work. Without their volunteers, there would be no way for the Center to do all the work its animals need.
The rhino calves that the Center takes in are orphaned (and often injured and traumatized) due to poaching. They need intense care, from treatment of wounds to socialization with other rhinos. Additionally, the other animals at the Center need care, so students may find themselves with a baby monkey or a serval kitten as a roommate!
What might volunteering involve?
- Preparing formula for baby rhinos
- Bottle feeding animals – sometimes in the middle of the night!
- Keeping records of feeding behavior and health statistics
- Monitoring rhino groups to prevent any potential problems
- Assisting in the construction and design of new animal enclosures
- Helping local educational groups at the Center
- Participating in ‘Game Walks’ on conservancy grounds
If your student travel group isn’t willing to work hard, they won’t be suited for this trip. But if they’re willing to put their own comfort second to the life of an animal, they’ll be a valued partner in caring for some of Africa’s best-known wildlife.
What Are People Saying About Khulula Care for Wild?
An experience like this tends to move anyone who has shared in it. This is what some other visitors to Khulula Care for Wild have said:
“No word amazing enough to describe the experience I had… Most memorable moment was being part of building the new rhino enclosures then being there when the two rhinos arrived… Prepare for hard work, late nights, and early starts!” – Becky Burns
“It was everything I had hoped it would be. I was able to experience firsthand the hard work that goes into caring for such incredible animals and better yet the amazing reward that is given when the animals begin to trust you. Emma and Molly (the hippos) were the best part of my day, every day. During my time at Care for Wild, I experienced the arrival of two new baby rhinos and was able to watch and help them settle in. I was able to sleep over in the night pen with Warren, the baby rhino, and have him come and cuddle me. I was able to go swimming in the pond with Emma and Molly – Never did I even dream that I would one day be swimming with two hippos! Care for Wild was simply unforgettable.” – Lucy “Lulu” Sloane
During their stay, student get to be surrounded by nature. They live in rustic wooden cabins in the Center’s private reserve, enjoying its beautiful hilly setting. And of course, there is the occasional ‘sleepover’ in the barns to cope with a 2 a.m. feeding time! If your student travel group has a thirst for adventure, a love for animals, and a strong desire to really make a difference, African Conservation Experience’s Khulula Care for Wild Wildlife Conservation Center can help them realize one of their biggest dreams.
Tel: +44 (0) 01454 269182