Cheetah Rehabilitation Project

Founders of this amazing project are Will and his late wife Sharon († 2010) who have worked together at several parks including the Kruger National Park and Amakhala Private Game Reserve. Their main objective is to rehabilitate and conserve bordering farms (which they have attained over the last couple of years).

Project includes the following

Accommodation Yes
Meals Yes
Transport Yes
Project co-ordinator Yes
 

Cost of Project

1 week 490 euro 660 USD 385 GBP
2 weeks 935 euro 1265 USD 735 GBP
3 weeks 1375 euro 1855 USD 1085 GBP
4 weeks 1815 euro 2450 USD 1435 GBP
Extra weeks 340 euro 460 USD 270 GBP
Transfers
(both ways)
165 euro 215 USD 125 GBP
Surcharge: luxury cottage per week:
Single
P/person sharing

80 euro
55 euro

110 USD
75 USD

65 GBP
45 GBP
 

About this project

History of the Project
Founders of this amazing project are Will and his late wife Sharon († 2010) who have worked together at several parks including the Kruger National Park and Amakhala Private Game Reserve. Their main objective is to rehabilitate and conserve bordering farms (which they have attained over the last couple of years). They both possessed an immense passion for the big cats e.g. Cheetahs, Lion and Leopards, and have been safeguarding their existence these last years.

Currently they have 4 hand raised adult Cheetahs in their care, two males (brothers) and two  females, which all require training to become independent and skilled hunters and eventually return to their natural habitat. Over the last years they have had the privileged to have cubs born on a yearly basis and many animals have passed through this project and several cheetahs have been successfully released into the wild again.

Mission
A conservation and rehabilitation farm is an enormous reserve that has one main goal; to help nature restore itself and transform back to its original state. This is a very lengthy process and after decades of excessive maltreatment by farmers it can take many years for flora and fauna to re-establish itself.  

Animals at the projectCheetah Brothers
Besides cheetahs, other animals at the project include Spotted Hyenas, Caracal, Servals and African Wildcats.

Aardvark
Aardwolf
Blesbuck
Cheetah
Kudu
Blue Wildebeest
Nyala
Common Duiker
Water Buck
Clawless Otter
Springbok
Ostrich

Impala
Caracal
Giraffe
Cape Leopard
Spotted Hyena
Burchell’s Zebra
Red hartebeest
Mountain Reedbuck
Jackal
Steenbok
Suricate/Meerkat
Bush Pig

Porcupine
Small Spotted Genet
Bat Eared Fox
Striped pole cat
Mongoose species
Dassies/Hyrax
Rock Monitors
Spring Hares
Scrub Hares
African Wild Cat
Honey Badger
Eland

The reserve also offers home to Giraffes, Zebras, Vervet Monkeys, Baboons, 350 different bird species and several types of buck e.g. Kudu, Nyala, Red Hartebeest, Springbuck, Duiker, Blesbuck, Waterbuck and Blue Wildebeest. The owner is also planning to introduce Buffalo, Black Rhino and Elephant to the area. Large wildlife species presently occurring on the Reserve:

A bird list for the Reserve is constantly updated and includes approximately 290 species, including rarities like breeding Blue Crane, Martial Eagle, African Fish Eagle, and Black Eagles that are regularly seen soaring above.

Employees and other volunteers
The project is supervised by the owner Will van Duyn, but as he lives in Port Elizabeth the daily running and coordinating is done by the rangers living at the farm permanently.

You’ll most probably meet a variety of other volunteers, although numbers can differ and we cannot guarantee there are always lots of other volunteers around. Please contact us if you like to know more.

Volunteers come from all over the world and Modgaji has hosted volunteers from Japan, USA, Germany, France, Holland, UK, Iceland, Austria and much more.

Area description

The areaModjadji
The conservation and rehabilitation project is located close to the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve, which is a huge nature reserve situated in the Eastern Cape, South Africa with world heritage status.

The Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve is a unique area in South Africa and almost unique in the world, for it boasts an unspoiled natural habitat for leopards. As a result, these magnificent creatures have been spotted on numerous times in the area.

The farm is situated a mere 2 hours’ drive from the coastal town Port Elizabeth, the 5th largest city in South Africa, and only 20 km away from the historical Karoo village of Steytlerville.

The conservation and rehabilitation project lies in between the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve and the Karoo Nature reserve, which extends all the way to Cape Town.

The Reserve lies within a diverse habitat, with more than a 1000 plant species, including the famous Protea families.

Activities in the area
As the project has a remote location it is difficult to leave during weekends and activities are limited. Best is to plan any other trips and tours before or after your stay.
We do however organize daytrips to Addo Elephant

Park if we have enough people to participate (minimum 4) and the costs are R 900 per person for transport, packed lunch and entrance fees.

Other activities that can be undertaken are horseback riding, visiting Steytlerville, attending a painting course but mostly to relax on the reserve, go camping or hiking and read those books.

Tasks and activities

Daily activities
Work on the Reserve is diverse, and therefore daily activities vary, but participants may be assured of a close and personal experience with the African Bush, and some of its wildlife.
Possible activities include:

Animal Rehabilitation

  • Walking of cheetah, during their release program
  • Feeding, monitoring, and behavioural enrichment of any animals undergoing rehabilitation
  • Cutting of meat and preparing food for animals
    (cutting of meat is an optional activity)
  • Cleaning of camps & open fields
  • Assisting wildlife veterinarians, if the need arises
  • Monitoring of released species
  • Cheetah release and breeding program  
  • Release and monitoring of other endemic animal
    species

Conservation ManagementAssisting Wildlife

  • Erection of fences and boma’s (holding encampments)
  • Fence patrols
  • Road maintenance and building
  • Control and removal of alien vegetation
  • Reserve clean–up
  • Game counts and individual identification profiles for game
  • Erosion control
  • Monitoring of waterholes
  • Game capture, and game transportation
  • Game introduction
  • Identifying of mammals, birds, insects, reptiles and plant species
  • Filming & Photography

Other possible Activities (outside of working hours)

  • Bush walks and game drives
  • “Sleep outs” in the Bush under the African skies (mainly in summer)
  • Star-gazing
  • Picnic lunch
  • Relaxing in the pool

Please note that the cheetahs are not walked daily, as in nature they will only hunt every 3 or 4 days and this schedule will be followed. 

Working days and hours

Depending on the time of year the days start early in summer even at 5.00AM as the sun will make working after 10.00AM impossible. Count on starting early having time to rest and relax in the daytime and start work again in the afternoons when it cools down a bit. During winter days start around 7.00 AM and work is done during the days with the last feeding around 5.00 PM.

As animals don't have office hours work is flexible and on various times, if there is any baby or very young animals, including cheetah, servals, African Wildcats and orphaned animals, like in the past there were a warthog, meerkats, a young kudu and other animals. This however sometimes means 24/7 care and feeding bottles during the night.

Safety

Successful Cheetah HuntThis is an important subject for all travelling to South Africa as the general perception is that it is unsafe to travel to South Africa. This is partly true if you would travel to the townships of Johannesburg but not if you come to this project. From the moment you land you will be looked after and you stay far from any other habitation.
We have never had any issues in terms of safety of you and your belongings
Working with animals however is also a matter of safety; stick to the rules and work as supervised. There will be a clear code of conduct that you will need to sign upon arrival with all rules and regulations. Some people think working with cheetahs is unsafe, but did you know that there are no records of any human ever being killed by a cheetah, primates are not on the menu for Cheetahs (they won't even eat monkeys) and cheetahs will only defend themselves when cornered or irritated.

If you listen closely to the staff and stick to the rules we can promise (not guarantee) that you will be safe!

How to get there?

Transportation from airport to the project
After you arrived in Johannesburg, you will take a domestic flight to Port Elizabeth.
If you arrive on a Monday (project starting day) a staff member of the project will welcome you and take you straight to the project. The transfer to the project takes about 2.5 hours.

Getting up close with a CheetahIf you arrive on any other day the project co-ordinator can help you with an airport pickup and any accommodation needed. Some volunteers even prefer to have 3 or 4 days in Port Elizabeth to enjoy trips such as the Penguin and Dolphin tour, Addo Elephant Park, Seaview Lion Park, a visit to Jeffrey’s Bay (surfing mecca) or just relaxing on the beach. In case of any bookings for pick up, accommodation and tours the project co-ordinator offers that service for a once off fee of R500.

Possibilities for arranging own transport
If you like to rent a car and drive to the project yourself; that's possible and the project co-ordinator can help find you an affordable rental vehicle. Also for travelling before or after your stay at the project we offer a variety of discounted travel opportunities:

    • Nomad Overland Tours is booked with 10% discount by our project co-ordinator
    • Bazbus Backpackers Bus has 5% discount www.bazbus.com
    • Car rentals with Avis can have discounts up to 30% (if longer than 1 month)

So if you have any travelling needs, check with us and we might get you a nice discount on that!

Accommodation

You will be living on the reserve itself. Participants are accommodated in shared 3 bedroom basic cottages overlooking a dam away from the main farm house. In the middle of the cottages there is a kitchen building in open African bush style to cook your meals and to sit and enjoy the views and quietness. There is a communal bathroom, 2 toilets and a fire place area for the evenings. You can make use of the swimming pool at the main house which is 2 minutes walking away just over the hill.  Laundry facilities are provided for personal use at the main house. (Washing powder is not included, so please bring your own or purchase with your groceries). Wi-Fi internet facilities are available at additional costs. (R50 per week, payable in cash) A pillow, sheet and blanket will be provided but remember to bring your own sleeping bag.

Males and females are allocated separate sharing cottages, unless travelling as a couple, in which case we need to be advised on booking.

Meals
All meals are on a self-catering basis and are excluded from the project fees. Volunteers cook their own meals and are responsible for cleaning up afterwards. Coffee, tea & sugar will be provided. All other items such as cool drinks and snacks are for your own account. Please remember that Alcohol is NOT permitted.

Personal shopping and suppliesAccommodation
Volunteers will have the opportunity to shop in Port Elizabeth on the day of arrival before heading to the project. Once at Modgaji you will have opportunity to shop in Steytlerville twice a week or to ask one of the staff to bring shopping back for you.

Steytlerville has an ATM and 2 supermarkets and that’s basically it, so don't expect too much and bring your own items that are maybe difficult to find (lens liquids, camera rolls, etc.)

Costs

Costs for the project
The following prices include accommodation and daily supervision.

Cost of Project

1 week 490 euro 660 USD 385 GBP
2 weeks 935 euro 1265 USD 735 GBP
3 weeks 1375 euro 1855 USD 1085 GBP
4 weeks 1815 euro 2450 USD 1435 GBP
Extra weeks 340 euro 460 USD 270 GBP
Transfers
(both ways)
165 euro 215 USD 125 GBP
Surcharge: luxury cottage per week:
Single
P/person sharing

80 euro
55 euro

110 USD
75 USD

65 GBP
45 GBP
 

Transfer from Port Elizabeth Airport to the project:
€ 165.00 / $215.00 / £125.00 both ways

Please note that returning volunteers get discounts on any new stay at this project.

Break down of Volunteering Fees:
Conservation - 20 %
Accommodation & petrol - 30 %
Project management & running costs - 30 %
Admin and marketing costs - 20 %

What's excluded Cheetah after a long walk
- Meals, snacks & cool drinks (Please remember that Alcohol is NOT permitted)
- Flights
- Travel insurance
- Visa
- Internet / phone calls
- Transport to and from the project (transfer fees)
- Extra activities off the reserve
- Personal toiletries and washing powder for personal washing

Dates and duration

Transfers from Port Elizabeth to the project as well as returns are done on Mondays.
The transfer departs from Port Elizabeth airport at 1pm (at the latest) on the specified dates. If volunteers cannot find a flight arriving before 1pm it is advised that they arrive the day before and meet the pick up at the airport the next day.  If these dates do not fit please contact us so we can see how we can accommodate you, we do try to be flexible!

Return transfers are also done on Mondays and can arrive back in Port Elizabeth as late as in the evening. We advise that you book accommodation in Port Elizabeth and book a flight departing only as early as the next day (Tuesday).

  Per Night
Dorm R130-R140
Double Room (shared bathroom) R385
Double Room (en suite) R460
 

Accommodation option in Port Elizabeth:
Lungile Lodge Backpackers: www.lungilebackpackers.co.za

Omega Cabs:
Airport Transfers : R50 pp one way
Greenacres Bus Stop Transfer : R70 pp one way

The R stands for South African rand, exchange rates can be found on www.xe.com

ConditionsMore animals besides only cheetahs

Obviously there are certain conditions applicable with regards to our volunteers to ensure the desired end result is reached.

It is therefore important that volunteers of the Cheetah Project understand the importance of the following:

  • To adapt to the project instead of the other way around, the animals come first and you can be part of this.
  • To be passionate about working with animals.
  • To feel passionate about nature.
  • To respect and guarantee the vision and mission of the project.
  • To be able to show flexibility with regards to tasks and duties.
  • To be able to work in a team.
  • To be able to bear responsibility.
  • To be reliable and trustworthy.
  • To be able to take initiative in any required tasks
  • To not consume alcohol at the project

Any misbehaviour or not complying with the rules and regulations can result in immediate termination of your placement without refund.

Practical tips

Clothing

  • It's best to wear natural colour clothing for walks with Cheetahs (Khaki, brown, black, dark grey and so on). Bright colours might scare the animals. Please remember that clothing can get very dirty and easily damaged in the bush.
  • A pair of comfortable walking/hiking boots is important. 
  • Please bring a pair of flip flops for inside the main house as ‘outside’ shoes are left at the front door.
  • In winter time it can be very cold, so bring warm clothing and in summer, spring & autumn remember the swimming costume! A hat is also of utmost importance for the African sun.

OtherWalking with Cheetahs

It is recommended that you do some reading and research about cheetahs and other wild life. This will help you understand and learn a lot more about the animals. As this is a project where you will be taking part in hunting with cheetahs expect to see the killing of animals by cheetahs and to work with meat to feed the cats and other animals, so for those with a weak stomach; you get used to it very quickly. Remember that all the cats need to eat ‘game’ (antelope, ostrich, etc.) as they need to be able to fend for themselves one day.

For the busy European minds some days seem like there is nothing going on, but volunteers must understand that the pace of life in Africa is very different and depends on seasons, the weather and the heat. Some days will be spent reading books and going for a walk, others will be hard work so please be flexible and see this project and your involvement from a bigger picture.

Checklist

Your clothing should be easy to wash and dry and should preferably not need ironing. Avoid synthetics, which can be very uncomfortable in hot weather. Many people underestimate how cold Africa can be in the winter (May – August) – remember that jersey/jacket and warm clothes! There are also nights that are warm but you must still wear clothes that cover arms and legs from mosquitoes. If you wear glasses (or contacts) it is also advisable to bring a spare pair. Please be aware that your clothes are going to get dirty!

Bring:

Sleeping bag
Personal toiletries
Sunscreen
Old clothes for dirty work
Camera and charger
Sunglasses
Water bottle
Waterproof/windbreaker jacket
Neutral coloured bush wear
Gloves, scarf and beanie
Day pack / rug sack
Passport (plus a copy of your passport & visas)
Extra passport photos
Walking/hiking boots

Cell phone (handy to call home)
Pen and notebook
Personal medical first aid kit
Sun hat
Pocket knife (handy)
Personal torch / flashlight
Binoculars for game viewing
Sunscreen lotion
Vaccination certificate
Personal toiletries and towel
Passport, Visas and Medical &
Travel Insurance documents

Thermal fleece or warm sweater
Long trousers / shorts
Swimming costume
Towel
Pocket money
Mosquito and insect repellent
Walking shoes and sandals
Thick socks
Flashlight

Extra money

Young ServalsThis depends on your spending habits. South Africa is not an expensive destination but we all like an ice cream or greasy snacks at times! Maybe you like to buy some souvenirs or see as much as you can before or after the stay at the project; bring some pocket money.

There is no currency exchange service at the bank in Steytlerville, so if you need to exchange your own currency to South African Rand, please exchange at the airport.

There is an ATM in Steytlerville where you can draw money with a VISA, MasterCard or Maestro card.

Immunization & Vaccination

This is a malaria free area but we do have mosquitoes in the summer months. Insect repellent is must during this time.

It is recommended that volunteers have rabies and anti-tetanus vaccinations. It is best to contact your local physician before you leave your country.

Insurance

Accidents can happen to anyone. Make sure you get comprehensive travel and medical insurance. Shop around and make sure it’s right for you. Think about activities you may be doing, even spur of moment ones, and make sure you're covered for these. Your policy also needs to cover medical costs. If you do not take out proper insurance, you will foot the bill.

Next to your international travel insurance we advise you to get the VOLUNTEER CARD. This will not only cover your volunteering activities but will also give you an incredible amount of discount options throughout the world! US and Canada nationals can order the card online, other internationals can email us for the order form! www.volunteercard.com

Passport

Your passport must have enough pages for any visa. Your passport should have 2 pages free for every country to be visited. Please ensure that you take your own passport out from your hotel / backpackers safe the night before departure. It is absolutely necessary that you make a copy of your passport and give it to your supervisors; we strongly recommend that you also leave a copy at home or with some friends. Please note that South Africa insists on people having 2-free pages available when you enter. Keep this in mind if you are going to fly home from South Africa after completing a tour to multiple African countries. 

Please ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months after your date of departure from Africa.
You are personally responsible for ensuring that passports, visas, vaccination certificates and other travel documents are in order and for all costs relating thereto.

Visa

As visa requirements vary considerably, please contact the various embassies or a visa service agent to recheck, visa requirements at least 4 weeks prior to departing. Please note that visas are the responsibility of the traveller and that our project co-ordinator will not be held responsible for clients being denied entry should they not be in the possession of the relevant visas. All travellers must be in possession of a valid onward/return air ticket.

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