Instilling a love of nature and the great outdoors in your little ones is an amazing gift, not just for themselves but also for the environment at large. Today’s young nature lovers may well become tomorrow’s game rangers, veterinary scientists or famous animal conservationists thanks to a family safari trip.

Shamwari Is Committed to Helping Kids See the Beauty of Nature

“Teaching children about the natural world should be seen as one of the most important events in their lives.” – Thomas Berry

Parents of children who already love and respect nature are truly blessed but, with the right encouragement, any child can be made to see the wonders of the wild. Shamwari Private Game Reserve is committed to and passionate about the conservation of the natural world and hopes to share this passion with each and every guest – no matter what their age.

To get both young and older guests equally excited about nature conservation, Shamwari offers a host of extraordinary experiences and activities – all aimed to foster a newfound respect for nature. These include:

Read on to learn more about each of these life-changing conservation experiences and exciting activities.

A Shamwari field guide educating a young guest

Sowing the Seeds of Wildlife Conservation in Kids and Adults Alike

Shamwari’s History of Nature Conservation

Situated in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, the area surrounding Shamwari has been historically rich in wildlife. Although, that nearly came to an end a few decades ago because of over farming and hunting. Various species were eradicated because of these malpractices.

Shamwari noticed this and decided it was time to step in. During the last 25 years agricultural, as well as pristine land was bought, combined and rehabilitated to its former glory. Local species who were once driven to extinction in the area were reintroduced and given the opportunity to strengthen their numbers.

It may have been an enormous challenge for Shamwari’s wildlife department and staff, but it has also been a great privilege to witness devalued pieces of land transform back into a flourishing ecosystem.

A few of Shamwari’s greatest nature conservation successes during this period includes:

  • Acquiring additional land
  • The first animals’ arrival
  • Reintroducing large herbivores
  • The first big predators’ return to the province, after their initial extermination over a century earlier

Environmental conservation, however, is an ongoing process that never stops. Shamwari’s wildlife department continues to look for ways in which to grow, enhance and improve the local ecology, land and the province at large.

Now you know why Shamwari is so eager to educate guests, big and small, about nature conservation. Sharing awareness and knowledge may inspire some to start playing a more active role in their local conservation efforts. Why, it may even lead to a young guest making up their mind about a future career path.

Visit Born Free Big Cat Sanctuaries

A male lion lazing in the sun at one of the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuaries

This is the perfect educational excursion for children who adore (big) kitties.

Born Free Big Cat Sanctuaries are the result of a partnership between Shamwari and actor, author and fervent wildlife campaigner, Virginia McKenna’s Born Free Foundation. Each of the Animal Rescue and Education Centres were designed to incorporate both an education facility, and sanctuary, providing guests of all ages with an eye-opening encounter.

The goal of Born Free Big Cat Sanctuaries is to create awareness of the horrors of wildlife exploitation in captivity. Big wild cats all around the world are being held captive in deplorable conditions and they need somebody to be their voice.

Thanks to the Born Free Foundation, numerous big cats have been rescued from these conditions throughout the years. Born Free’s primary focus is the promotion of the conservation of species, as well as the protection of habitats while maintaining humane and compassionate treatment towards the animals.

A registered charity, the Born Free Foundation exclusively relies on donations. Thus, there are no entry fees but donations are very much appreciated to continue the good work being done by this wildlife organisation. Visiting guests can look forward to witnessing rescued leopards and lions from across the globe.

Shamwari has a keen eye on the future of South African wildlife and the team takes pride in maintaining two Born Free centres. Both feature a student-centered educational programme that aims to support local disadvantaged communities by focussing on nature conservation. Guests are welcome to visit either of the two centres:

  • The Julie Ward Centre – Opened on 30 September 1999 and located in the Southern regions of Shamwari’s property, this centre gives shelter to rescued big cats.
  • The Jean Byrd Centre – Opened on 5 November 2006 and located in the Northern regions of the reserve, this education centre and sanctuary includes educational facilities for visiting schools, alongside more enclosures for housing rescued big cats.

Children and adults alike will be thrilled to hear that by supporting Born Free Big Cat Sanctuaries you aren’t just learning about the predicament of some wild animals, but you’re also helping to take a stand against animal cruelty.

There are few careers as rewarding as one in animal conservation. Removing any animal from a terrible situation and reintroducing them to the wild is an experience unlike any other.

Visit the Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre

A slot through which guests are able tocan view animals recovering in their camps at Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre

A private game reserve such as Shamwari is home to many animals. Just like humans, these wild animals also need a place to rest and recuperate after being injured, falling ill or being orphaned.

Enter Shamwari’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre – a temporary home for the reserve’s unwell inhabitants, until their rerelease back into their natural habitat. Here, Shamwari’s exceptional veterinary team works tirelessly to rehabilitate and care for any animal that comes through the doors.

All our esteemed guests are given the opportunity to visit the rehabilitation centre – and its animal inhabitants – during their stay. As soon as you arrive at Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, you’ll be met by a member of this exceptionally caring team. They will then proceed to show you around the facility and explain exactly what it is they do there.

Guests should note that this isn’t an interactive visit – however, it is an educational and informative one. This is in order to give the animals the best possible chance of making a full recovery and returning to the wild successfully.

When animals at the rehabilitation centre are recovering, they are housed in specially built camps. Should there be any animals in the centre’s care during your visit, you might be given the opportunity to meet them –albeit at a distance.

Rhino Rescue, Rehabilitation and Conservation

Noelle the rhino and Patrick the sheep walking together at Shamwari Private Game Reserve

In the last couple of years, the African rhino population has seen a drastic decline in numbers because of the continued poaching crisis. It’s a sad fact that where they were once strong in numbers across the country, their figures have now declined to the point of near extinction.

The goal is to get all animals that come through the doors of the Shamwari Rehabilitation Centre to the point that they will be able to successfully reintegrate into the wild – or, at the very least, give them a fighting chance. Because the centre is a registered facility, animals come in from all across the province and even farther away. This goal is only attainable thanks to the exemplary care and treatment provided by Shamwari’s committed vet, vet nurse and their team.

Because of the rhino poaching crisis, Shamwari’s rehabilitation centre staff have unfortunately become all too accustomed to raising orphaned rhino calves. These poor creatures have gone through incredible trauma in their young lives, but with the team’s dedicated help several calves have been successfully raised and released into safe environments. Here they will be able to help strengthen rhino numbers for the future.

Shamwari Rehabilitation Centre welcomes all animals, no matter what size or species, with open arms and hearts. The team works with determination around the clock to provide their patients with the best care possible. Their reward? A weak orphan finally drinking for the first time, growing stronger and then finally being released back into the wild – home.

Empathetic children with a great love of animals would do well to follow a career path such as veterinary science in the future. Here they’ll be able to not only make a difference in an individual animal’s life, but in the population as a whole as well.

Make a Difference – Volunteer for the Shamwari Nature Conservation Experience

For the slightly older young people already considering a career in nature conservation or veterinary science, Shamwari offers both long and short term volunteer experiences (Shamwari CNSV: XP for Volunteer Individuals). These experiences are ideal for individuals looking to take a gap year, experience holiday or sabbatical.

Participants in the Shamwari CNSV programme are taken behind the scenes and exposed to a variety of scenarios conservation management staff at Shamwari deal with on a daily basis.

Individuals participating in the program are housed in one of three accommodation facilities during their stay – each equipped with a dining and common area. Room and facility changes are avoided during participants’ stay, although it does occasionally happen. The average stay ranges from 2-12 weeks, however the option for an extended stay might occasionally be available.

The minimum stay of two weeks kicks off on a Monday and follows a daily time schedule of 08:00-17:00. Participants usually have evenings and weekends free, but early morning, late night and weekend activities may come up on occasion, depending on the reserves wildlife conservation operations.

Each of Shamwari’slong and short term projects are driven by an outcome. The intention is to be as sustainable as possible for the sake of future generations. Daily tasks will vary from physical labour to interactive and interesting lecture-like content. There are numerous monitoring projects across the reserve that aim to capture important information needed to continue the management and research of the various species found at Shamwari.

Participants can look forward to a diverse and structured experience, yet it is important to note that nothing can be prescheduled, because of the nature of the work and dependence on good conditions.

Another thing to look forward to in the Shamwari CNSV: XP for Volunteers program is the fact that participants are likely to be given the opportunity to visit and help with tasks at the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuaries and Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.

Discover more reasons why you should recommend Shamwari’s veterinary and wildlife conservation experience as part of your child’s gap year here.

Shamwari’s Kids on Safari Programme

An outside view of the Shamwari Kids on Safari Adventure Centre

Shamwari prides itself in the fact that we not only offer guests the chance to relax in luxurious splendour, but also to learn more about our nature conservation practices, no matter what their age.

Tots younger than four years old aren’t able to go on a game drives, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll miss out on the fun. On the contrary – there’s a host of exciting activities for them to take part in. Riverdene’s children’s coordinator or the friendly staff of Shamwari’s childminding service (available at an additional fee) will make sure of that.

It’s Playtime at Riverdene Family Lodge

All work and no play makes Jack and Jill dull children. Shamwari knows this to be true, so after visiting the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuaries and Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre with their parents, children can simply let loose and play the rest of the day away at Riverdene’s Adventure Centre. Here they’ll get to run wild while appreciating nature, thanks to a variety of exciting outdoor activities.

Parents arriving at Riverdene Family Lodge with their kids needn’t worry about their kids getting bored as the Kids on Safari Adventure Centre ensures endless hours of fun. Both indoor and outdoor activities will keep the kids busy while parents kick back and relax.

Outdoor activities offered at Riverdene Family Lodge include:

  • Kiddies Zone – The perfect playground for toddlers and younger kids looking to burn excess energy while parents catch their breath.
  • Maze – A fun for the whole family activity, parents can join their kids in trying to navigate Shamwari’s maze.
  • Rock climbing walls – Older, adrenaline-loving kids will have a blast trying to scale the rock climbing walls.
  • Treehouse network – Kids will have a terrific time exploring the treehouse network, connected via a series of suspended walkways.
  • Adventure slide – What kid doesn’t enjoy a slide? Not one.
  • Zipline – Another amazing activity for adrenaline junky kids, there are a variety of zip line distances and heights to choose from.

Two boys climbing a low rock climbing wall at Riverdene Family lodge

Indoor activities offered at Riverdene Family Lodge include:

  • Kids library – A child’s imagination is a beautiful thing that should be nurtured. Shamwari offers a wide selection of books that will leave your child stimulated and entertained.
  • Arts and crafts – Your little Picasso will have a ball getting their creative juices flowing.
  • Pizza making – Junior MasterChef’s will appreciate the opportunity to make their own pizza in an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven.
  • Cookie decorating – For the kiddos who prefer baking, cookie decorating will keep them entertained for hours (and leave them with a sweet treat).

A little girl and Shamwari child minder having fun doing arts and crafts with pine cones

Look here for more information on children’s activities and experiences offered at Shamwari.

The True Value of Teaching Children About Environmental Conservation

Natural Habitat Adventures highlights three main reasons why it’s important to educate children about nature conservation:

  • The planet belongs to them too
  • Most children nowadays grown up disconnected from nature
  • Every child, no matter how young, can start making a difference

Shamwari heartily agrees. By educating children about wildlife conservation from an early age, you are helping raise tomorrow’s eco-warriors and advocates. Your children may even grow up to dedicate their lives to the cause, going on to become veterinarians, game rangers or conservationists.

Even if your kiddo only ends up being mindful about recycling or picking up litter, each tiny action helps make our planet a better, healthier place for all inhabitants.

Book Your Family Safari with Shamwari and support

Whether you choose to book your next family safari holiday at Riverdene Family Lodge or one of Shamwari’s eight other excellent lodgings, you’ll be supporting our wildlife conservation efforts. So when you’re sitting back by the pool, enjoying a game drive or visiting the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, you can know that your money is making a difference.

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