Wildlife Conservation Volunteer | Environmental Conservation Volunteer

Lajuma Research Centre, Louis Trichardt (Makhado)

Biological Research and Internships

Lajuma Research Centre

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The Lajuma Research Centre provides fieldwork opportunities to students, volunteers and research teams from foreign countries, local universities and from local disadvantaged communities. To date more than 500 students and volunteers ranging from pre-university to Ph.D. candidates to Postdoctoral Fellows have participated in the Lajuma Programme or conducted their own projects, publishing over 40 peer-reviewed articles. The Centre is directed by Professor Ian Gaigher who has more than 40 years of research and teaching experience. Ian is also an Adjunct Research Professor at the local University of Venda. The Centre is managed by Jabu Linden and the academic programme is managed by Birthe ("Bibi") Linden, a biologist who has worked in the area for nine years, completing her MSc at Lajuma, lecturing at the University of Venda and finalising her PhD study on the local population of samango monkeys.

 

Lajuma staff are actively involved in the UNESCO Vhembe Biosphere Reserve (two are founding Board members) where they are responsible for research and conservation functions including planning future protected areas.

Lajuma has a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Venda and collaborates with and hosts several research projects as well as running practical conservation biology and limnology field trips. To read more about some of the exciting research visit the website of the University of Venda Research Chair in Biodiversity.

The Department of Anthropology of Durham University runs an extensive research programme on primates and large predators at Lajuma. To learn more visit the website of the Primate and Predator Project. Addtionally, in collaboration with this project Lajuma also hosts an Earthwatch expedition: Conserving Leopards and Monkeys in South Africa.

Lajuma is a partner of the Ndlovu Node of the South African Environmental Observation Network, maintaining four weather stations in an altitudinal transect across the western Soutpansberg as part of a project to monitor long term environmental change. Climate data from these stations is made available to all researchers and projects. Lajuma is also a partner of the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa.

Lajuma has various other researchers conducting long term projects from institutions such as the South African Environmental Observation Network, the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute at the University of Pretoria, the Biodiversity Department at the University of Limpopo, the Resource Ecology Group at Wageningen University, the Department of Animal Behaviour, Ecology & Conservation at Canisius College and the respective Departments of Anthropology at Colorado and North Dakota Universities.

Keep up to date with happenings and like the Lajuma Facebook page.

Our objectives are:

- To do good basic and applied biological research through involvement of reputable local and international universities and other institutions.

- To utilize this information for conservation planning in the Vhembe Biosphere Reserve

- To stimulate conservation and environmental awareness in the region through our research activities

- To develop expertise in conservation awareness and planning amongst people from local rural communities through educational programmes

The Environment

Environmental Conservation Volunteer ImageWith strong altitudinal gradients, vegetation varies considerably from montane grassland to woodland, thicket and mistbelt forest. The reserve contains a remarkable diversity of plants, including a large number of endemics and rare and endangered species. Large mammals include mountain reedbuck, red and grey duiker, klipspringer, bushbuck, kudu, warthog, aardvark and bush pig. All five South African primate species ¬ lesser bushbaby, greater bushbaby, vervet monkey, samango monkey and chacma baboon - occur in abundance. We have a variety of predator species such as mongoose, honey badger, genet, serval, caracal, civet, brown hyaena and a high concentration of leopard.

Lajuma doeLajuma Research Center Images not present the typical perceived African savannah environment but does however present a unique wilderness area with a remarkable diversity of plants and animals, beautiful mountain scenery, remote, unpolluted and tranquil yet within an hour's drive of an urban centre with shopping centres and good medical facilities. You will not hear lions roaring at night but you will experience tranquillity with more stars than you ever imagined existed. You will hear fruit bats squeaking, bush babies calling, a wood owl duet or a baboon giving a warning call from a cliff, possibly for seeing a leopard in the moonlight.

 

Student Research Programme

Wildlife Conservation Volunteer ImageSuitable for interns, post graduate students (Masters or Ph.D.) or students who have to write a paper for their diploma or degree. These students ideally have to obtain relevant literature and prepare a project outline before their arrival at Lajuma. Qualified and locally experienced Lajuma staff will assist you with the selection and structuring of a project based on your academic background and field of interest and with the prior planning of the project arranged through email. After arrival you will receive an orientation and you will be trained in the techniques that you will use. At this stage the project proposal will also be finalised. Students will not be constantly supervised and will work largely independently or in groups or with a volunteer to assist them. Technical advice such as plant identification or equipment use will be available whenever required throughout the duration of the project.

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Accommodation

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Students will be accommodated in the "Barn" which has six rooms, four sharing and two single units.  Please contact us for more information about rates. Please note that due to the very high inflation rate in South Africa and unstable local currency, costs continuously escalate and accommodation prices are subject to change.

The accommodation fee does not cover the following:

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