LEO Africa volunteer project is located on the 15.000 hectares Abelana Game Reserve, a nature conservancy very close to Phalaborwa and adjacent to the Kruger National Park.
Owned by the Mashishimale community, the word “abelana” means “to share amongst each other” in the local Northern Sotho language.
Characterised by breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, varied topography and a mixture of vegetation types, Abelana Game Reserve has a 10km stretch of the semi-perennial Selati River in its northern section, as well as numerous other seasonal watercourses.
Abelana is home to a rich diversity of fauna and flora, including the Big 5 - elephant, rhino, leopard, lion and buffalo - as well as cheetah, hyena and non-resident wild dog (occasional visitors), to an impressive number of endemic bird species including the African fish eagle, white-breasted cuckooshrike, thick-billed cuckoo, and bat hawk.
The LEO Africa conservation volunteer program provides valuable monitoring and conservation services to the reserve. One of the aims of LEO Africa is to restore the territory to its natural and pristine state, to benefit all wildlife species.
LEO Africa collaborates in conjunction with the Reserve Management and veterinary (on occasions).
Each month, our team and reserve management sets goals that need to be achieved according to the period of the year and priorities. The work that LEO Africa conducts together with our volunteers, allows the reserve maintenance team to focus on many other different tasks, having more time to dedicate to higher priorities.
Reserve management in South Africa is a complex and evolving subject. It involves everything from ecology to road maintenance, from species reintroduction to alien plant removal. It also includes more difficult and emotionally-charged issues such as animal relocation. One of LEO's goals is to expose volunteers to the complicated subject of conservation in the 21st century.
Birding in the reserve
Bird life in the reserve is prolific and you'll be able to see many different species while on drive and at base, especially during the summer months, when together with the resident birds, you'll also get to discover some migratory species!
Don't forget your binoculars if you are a keen birder!