Being Volunteer on Cango Wildlife Ranch in Oudtshoorn
Whilst the two of us have been here for very different amounts of time, 9 weeks compared to 2 weeks, we can agree that we have the same views on this incredible program. From the magnificent animals, to the friendly faces greeting you every morning, to the food served up to us each week, the program gets better and better each and every day.
The Cango Wildlife Ranch is privately owned and therefore does not receive government benefits. This means that it can only exist because of the public support and the help of volunteers. All the staff members are very busy every day making sure that everything is in check, but they always make it known to us as volunteers that our assistance is appreciated and keep us informed about everything consisting the animals.
The usual tasks of a volunteer on the Ranch mostly consist of feeding the animals, helping to clean the enclosures, bonding with the animals and giving them enrichement. Enrichement means to make a difference to the animals livelihood by providing them with choices that they would normally have in their wild environment, as well as allowing them to interact with something new that makes them think outside of the box.
This enrichment is the main aspect of our work and involves all the volunteers building tunnels for the cheetahs to explore, making ice lollies for the tigers on hot days, and placing palm leaves for the lemurs to search for fruits in. As well as this we construct ramps out of wood for the meerkats (Betty and Bambam) to use and give feathersticks to the otter (Speckles), carakels (Caesar and Cleo) and foxes (Batman, Foxtrott and Foxtrail), to name only a few examples.
Whilst the process of making these kinds of enrichement can sometimes be mundane or senseless - after you maybe just have finished your seventh tunnel for the week - , the happiness see and feel when for instance, a cheetah has made it through the tunnel, Bambam ran over the ramp or the lemur has found his fruits between all the palm leaves, it definitely makes the hard work worth it. The volunteers truly know that they have made the animals' day. This contributes to one of the main goals of the Wildlife Ranch, that is to give each animal the best quality of life as possible in captivity.
After our time here we really feel like we and all the other volunteers have had an impact in creating a better future for conservation. We have been able to become a part of improving the animals overall quality of life and so we hope that you will give the Cango Wildlife Ranch the support that it deserves.
Christina Bakowski (20, from Germany) and Annie Affleck (17, from Australia), Anntina Bakleck (18, from Austria)
If you would also like to send us a testimonial, we would appreciate it so much!
Helen - [email protected]