Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Duties at Thanda Part 1

I have had a few people asking me what the heck am I doing in Africa. To some people it looks like I am on vacation. This is as wonderful as any vacation I have ever taken, but there’s more to it that that. I am a volunteer, but I take the work as seriously as a job. There are three parts to my work here. I will explain one part in this post and the other two parts in future posts.

The program I signed up for is called the Photography and Conservation Project. The objective of this project is to build an unique database of wildlife and conservation images, taken by volunteers (that’s me!). The photos are used for education and research. We try to document the amazing biodiversity in Thanda and the surrounding area. The photos are also part of a marketing campaign to make people more aware of the need for conservation. We hope the photos will inspire people to give money to African Impact and other NGO’s to support the work they are trying to do.

During the first week as a volunteer here, everyone participates in a photography course given by a professional photographer. The course is a good mixture of theory and practice. We learn a little about the history of photography and advances made possible by new technology. We also have instruction on how to take good photos and how to use software to make them even better. The instructor critiques our photos and make sure we know what kind of photos are needed for the database.

After the photography course, we go on regular game drives. We get up very early in the morning because that’s when we are most likely to find animals. We have drivers/guides who are very knowledgeable about where the animals are likely to be. After a photo shot, I process and edit my photos according to a weekly schedule or in my free time. At the end of every month, I will be asked to add my best photos to the database of Thanda.

For someone like me, this is very satisfying work. I love studying the animals and trying to get the perfect shot that captures the beauty and grace of these creatures. It makes me feel good to know that the pictures I take help scientists understand African wildlife better. And I hope they will also inspire ordinary people to care about conservation of wildlife.

So that’s part of what I am doing during my three months at Thanda. I will fill you in on other activities when I get to post again.

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