Volunteering in South Africa can be exceptionally rewarding, especially when participating in volunteer programs associated with coastal conservation and preservation.
The marine environment along South Africa’s West Coast is spectacular and diverse in its species and ecosystems with long beaches, lagoons and islands off the coast providing a variety of habitats. Pollution, resource depletion and rapidly expanding urbanisation are, however, threatening these areas and the indigenous flora and fauna found within them. Information on the population dynamics and habitat changes along this coast line is lacking, but is vital to the sustainability of this important bio diverse environment.
- Birding Project – Volunteers walk predetermined 500m stretches of some of the biosphere’s stunning beaches, conducting monitoring surveys during which general population counts and species specific data such as feeding and breeding patterns will be recorded. CTRCI volunteer efforts contribute to research conducted by BirdLife South Africa, partner of BirdLife International, which is a worldwide organisation dedicated to the conservation of bird species, habitats and diversity.
During these surveys volunteers will have the opportunity to experience the West Coast’s rich diversity of avifauna, including many permanent and migratory species, some of which are endangered. There is always excitement and a sense of satisfaction when we see one of our focal endangered species, such as the African Black Oystercatcher or the White-Fronted Plover.
- Pollution Project – Currently, around 8 million tons of plastic are entering our oceans annually, which is having a devastating impact on our marine ecosystems. The West Coast ecosystems are no different and with large cities such as Cape Town and Saldanha on their doorstep, this area is affected by waste being washed up and illegally dumped on the coastline. At least one million seabirds and one hundred thousand marine mammals die each year due to plastic pollution. Plastic pollution is also a carrier of invasive species, threatening native ecosystems.
Volunteers have the opportunity to actively contribute to the preservation of these marine environments by participating in weekly beach clean-ups in an attempt at reducing the amount of waste along some of the areas worst affected stretches of coastline. The litter collected will be sorted into recycling and trash so that it can be disposed of responsibly. The recyclable material found will be used in our one of our community based projects.