Hey there! I’m Alex, and I am a junior here at USF. I am an animal biology major with a minor in psychology. In just a few hours, I will be boarding my plane to South Africa for a month volunteer trip.
First, I would like to give everyone a little background about myself. I am a born and raised Florida girl. I love being outside, baking, and animals (with a slight obsession with dogs and elephants). I enjoy spending my time watching horror movies and practicing henna. When I graduate, my goal is to either join the Peace Corps or move to South Africa to gain my Field Guide Certification. After completing all schooling, I plan on working on a rehab center for injured or sick wildlife and performing behavioral research on large African mammals. This will be my second trip to South Africa. Ever since my first trip in June 2015, all I’ve wanted to do was return. So that is exactly what I am doing!
I will be working at the Knysna Elephant Park in Harkerville, Plettenberg Bay. The Knysna Elephant Park was the first place to house orphaned African elephants in 1994 and has continued to grow to care for and raise over 40 elephants. Knysna is currently the home to nine resident ellies – the largest domesticated matriarchal herd in the country! The park allows guest to get up close and interact with the free roaming elephants. Although they are domesticated, the elephants make the rules. They choose where they want to go, what they want to do and who they want to interact with.
I have the opportunity to learn how to care for these creatures, assisting in feeding, cleaning, and other daily activities. The main focus of this trip is to assist in current research projects being conducted at the park. This includes behavioral monitoring, night observations, and enrichment activities, just to name a few.
I’m so excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to share it with everyone! Next stop, South Africa!