Wildlife Action Group Malawi
Focus: Animal care and Conservation.
The Wildlife Action Group (WAG) is an NGO, who co-manage two governmental protected areas Thuma Forest Reserve and Dedza-Salima Forest Reserve which are located in the Central Region of Malawi between Lilongwe and Lake Malawi on the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley. Together the two forest reserves cover an area of app. 500 km².
Thuma FR and Dedza-Salima FR contain significant numbers of the remaining large mammals of Malawi, including several key populations identified by the IUCN. Thuma F.R. and Dedza-Salima F.R. are one of the few protected areas in Malawi which give still home to elephant and buffalo. Other (larger) game include greater kudu, bushbuck, baboon, vervet monkey, bush baby, leopard, cerval, spotted hyena, genets, African civet, warthog, bush pig, porcupine as well as a number of smaller antelopes like Sharpe's grysbok, common duiker and klipspringer. But Thuma F.R. is not only of interest for these mammals. There is a variety of trees and plants, birds, insects, and other animals which make the two reserves an important biodiversity hotspot in Malawi.
The most immediate threat to most elephant populations in Malawi is illegal hunting for ivory. And WAG is working very closely with DNPW and other government agencies to bring about the effective enforcement of these laws. This activity will not only curtail the operations of those illegal forest/ wildlife exploiters who are prosecuted, but as awareness spreads it will act as a deterrent and reduce the overall level of illegal hunting and trade.
However uncontrolled illegal activities in the two reserves (mainly poaching, charcoal burning and illegal harvesting of bamboo and timber) threatened to destroy its precious habitats and the environmental services it provide for the region and the nation which is why our scout work and presence is so important.
Most NGO's working in conservation receives funding for starting micro-projects in villages, for putting up an electric fence to keep elephants out of the fields of farmers, for putting up direction signs, for buying GPS's for mapping natural forest resources, for conservation awareness projects and so on. Most people acknowledge that these activities are extremely important in conservation, and so do we, at the same time often hardly any funding is made available for paying the staff, whom are crucial for actually doing all this work. And even more important, and where it all starts with, the primary task of scouts and other field staff is to protect and to secure the wildlife in the reserve; micro-projects and direction signs are of course utterly useless, when at the same time, the wildlife in a reserve is poached to extinction because of the lack of field staff.
Costs & Benefits
The main project of the Wildlife Action Group is the "Thuma Forest Reserve Eco-system Rehabilitation Project".
When considering volunteering for a project it is very important to research not only the project but also the country you will be living in. You should come with an open mind and be prepared to become involved in every aspect of the project. The more you become involved in the more you get out of it. Activities include - Camp maintenance, Forest patrols - anti poaching and snare removal, flora and fauna surveying.
Volunteers participating in the programme all have a common ambition: to see, feel, hear and smell the African bush, to develop a practical knowledge of wildlife and life in the bush and to have a lasting positive impact on the environment.
WAG volunteers come from various back grounds such as - animal behaviourist, builders, students, mechanics, agriculture, musicians, flight attendants, office worker - there are no particular criteria. If you love nature, the great outdoors and hard work, then This Is the place for you.
The volunteers are welcomed in Lilongwe (International Airport) and transferred to Thuma F.R. Pick up in Salima is also possible.
Life in camp starts pretty early approx 7am in the morning. There are a lot of activities that you can involve yourself in and around the camp, but you will also have some spare time to relax and learn the Malawi traditional board games and enjoy the fantastic views from the top rock. There is a natural rock pool that we use as our swimming pool within 7 minutes walking from camp and is a welcome cooling down place to visit especially in the dry season.
The preferred minimum duration of your stay in Thuma should be 3 weeks and the maximum duration we can offer is 2 months.
You will stay in the base camp (grass-huts, bush-toilet, bush-shower, fire place for cooking, solar power, water from a natural spring) in the Thuma Forest Reserve so at night you will enjoy the call of the bush baby, the hyena and the night birds and hear the breaking of trees when the elephants are passing the camp..., in other words: the real bush experience!
The daily volunteer contribution is Euro 25 per night. Note: the Euro can be exchanged in Malawi Kwachas (the local currency) throughout Malawi so there is no particular need to bring US$.
It is also useful if volunteers are able to make a donation of small items that are readily available in Europe, and are difficult to get hold of in Malawi, but easy to pack. This could be battery chargers, shoe polish, Luxury soap, etc. The field manager will be able to advise what is needed.
This is to cover all costs during the volunteer's stay in the project, including transfers from/to Lilongwe Airport, accommodation, meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and tea, coffee, except alcoholic and soft drinks.
Food and drink while in town is not covered.
The reservation for your stay as a volunteer is confirmed when you e-mail the Wildlife Action Group a scan of your flight ticket/documents and medical insurance.
Volunteers should be over 18, have a good level of fitness and have a good understanding of English.
Location: Salima, Malawi
Average cost per day: 25 Euros
Focus: Animal Conservation
Skills needed:Volunteers need to be over 18, independent and self-motivated, have a good level of fitness and have a good understanding of English