Modisa Wildlife Project was created by
two passionate conservationists, Mikkel Legarth and Valentin Gruener,
who wanted to create an authentic learning experience for people to make
a difference in wildlife preservation and experience the habitat and
culture in a close, personal way.
Mikkel and Val met on a wildlife farm in
Namibia in 2009, and their mutual love and passion for wildlife, especially
big cats, was a catalyst for them to set up a wildlife project with an
emphasis on creating a bond between people and the wilderness. By
cooperating with leading researchers in Botswana, Modisa Wildlife Project
has the unique opportunity to create positive changes in local communities
which in turn will create a better understanding of and a brighter future
for wildlife and the big cats of Botswana.
Based in the Kalahari ecosystem of Botswana,
where diverse wildlife and breathtaking scenery blend harmoniously, Modisa
is ideal for those who want a "real" bushveld experience.
Modisa's mission is inherent in its name,
which means “guardian” in the local language of Tswana. It is Modisa's goal
to act as advocates for the wildlife in Botswana.
Modisa’s vision is to develop a sustainable
project which can stop conflict and unite local farmers with wildlife.
During the past few decades, wildlife in Botswana has experienced a
significant decline – a drop of more than 60 percent – caused by people
taking over wild land, the decline of prey species, and poaching. Lack of
attention to the problem locally and internationally has also contributed to
this severe decline. Modisa aims to use education and
awareness campaigns to implement sustainable changes in the area.
Modisa Wildlife Project is located on the
25,000 acre Grassland reserve, thirty kilometres west of the Central
Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR ) in Botswana. Grassland provides a beautiful
landscape for Kalahari’s diverse wildlife. The wide open space and untamed
wilderness provide ideal conditions for a wide range of animals to thrive.
The space also offers incredible wildlife viewing.
Modisa and the Grassland Safari Lodge are
working together towards a common goal of protecting Botswana's big cats and
surrounding wildlife. Grassland is situated between many cattle
farming areas, where the farmers are still allowed to shoot predators like
big cats. All the captive predators at the Modisa Wildlife Project
were relocated out of farming areas around the reserve, after conflict with
farmers protecting their livestock and property. Rather than getting
shot or poisoned, the predators were relocated to Modisa. At Modisa,
they are given the best possible life with as natural an environment as
possible. They have space to roam while they serve as "ambassadors"
for educational and awareness purposes. Modisa’s long-term
goal is to find suitable locations for these animals to be relocated and
Modisa Wildlife Project runs exclusively on natural
power, sustainable materials and products from local suppliers.
The Modisa program offers a truly authentic
learning experience for people who want to make a difference in wildlife
preservation and experience the habitat and culture firsthand.
As part of this holistic bushveld experience,
volunteers will enjoy:
• Broad daily lectures on the ecosystem
• Hiking in the wilderness with specialized
• Camping in bushveld under the
breathtaking Kalahari Desert sky
• Experiencing the unique culture of the
Bushmen (San people)
• Feeding the animals (lion, leopard, wild
• Basic tracking training
• Horse riding in the bush
• Participating in game counts and other area
• Cooking on a campfire, including lessons on
preparing traditional food, while enjoying the surrounding wildlife and
Instead of experiencing the Bush in a game
drive car as many regular tourists would do, you will instead get to walk in
the wild and get close to different species of antelopes, zebras,
wildebeests, giraffes and many other mammals. During every walk, our guide
will explain interesting facts about the vegetation, point out animal tracks
and give you an idea of what kind of things you have to watch out for in the
environment. Walking through the Kalahari, with animals roaming freely
around you, will give you a much deeper sense of this unique environment and
provide a better learning experience as well.
We start walks in the afternoon at a
beautiful spot on the farm, where you will learn how to pick a safe place to
sleep. The group will then collect firewood and learn how to make a fire by
using the materials around you. After, we’ll practice our fire making skills
with a braai. When dinner and story telling around the fire is over, you
will learn about the stars and hear the stories around them while also
learning how to use the night sky of the southern hemisphere for orientation
in the wilderness.
Everybody goes to sleep at the same time, but
each group will spend one hour awake for night watch with a member of our
staff. You will learn how to look out for animals, how to protect your camp
and how to navigate in the darkness to provide the best understanding of the
things and animals around you and to interpret the sounds and what you see.
The campfire and the night watch create a
safe environment, which will make it possible for you to enjoy the beauty of
the trip without fear of your surroundings.
The next morning you will learn how to clean
up after sleeping in the Bush and how best to leave as little impact as
possible on the surrounding wildlife. Afterwards, a relaxed walk takes us
back to camp, where our guide will answer all questions you might have.
Game Counts & Grass Surveys
When we get ready to conduct game counts and
surveys, the first thing you will learn is why we are doing game counts. We
will answer questions such as: Why do we need to know how many animals there
are on the farm? What do we do if there are too many or not enough? Why do
we need to do grass surveys?
Once you have a basic knowledge on the topic,
we start by packing up the car to do a practical game count. On the drive,
everyone keeps an eye out for animals in the area, equipped only with
binoculars. You will count every individual in herds and individual species
from giraffes to springbok. You will learn to differentiate between males
and females, as well as judge their condition and estimate their age.
On our grass surveys you will learn how to
measure the grass cover on the farm, how to tell whether grass is palatable
and how to use this information to determine the number of animals that can live in the
Both the game counts and the grass surveys
are on-going projects, as it will take many years to get to an accurate
figure. With your stay at the Modisa Wildlife Project, you will contribute
towards a long-term study and leave a lasting, positive impact on the area.
The Bushmen Village is near the farm, and you
will have the unique opportunity to get insight into their culture. You can
learn from them what plants are edible and how to find water in this
semi-desert environment. You can watch them demonstrate how they hunt wild
animals for survival by using their body strength and assets, made from
materials from the vegetation around them.
You will get the opportunity to learn a few
words in their fascinating “click” language. They will play traditional
games with you, to see if you can compete with their skills as well.
Learning and socializing with the Bushmen is
an unforgettable experience and an eye-opener for the amazing skills and
traditions that are still preserved here, without intervention from the
outside world. This is a truly unique characteristic that you will find in
very few places on Earth.
On our tracking activities, you will learn
how to identify many different animals and how to interpret the tracks and
signs that are everywhere around you. Furthermore, you will learn how to
determine their age and get a clear picture of what has happened in their
The tracking activity will mainly involve
many walks among the breathtaking Bush, where your focus will be on finding
tracks and identifying tracks. During track walks, there are always animals
around you, allowing you to get close to wild animals and observe their
The part of the Bush we track may look on its
surface to be relatively unremarkable, but once you learn how to read the
signs you will be able to read the bush like an open book at any time. This
knowledge alters the perception that many have of their surroundings in a
Animals held in captivity on the farm have
all been “problem animals” that ventured into cattle farming areas to kill
livestock. Unfortunately, farmers in Botswana are allowed to shoot these
predators. To save them from certain death, they were captured and relocated
to Modisa where they are now used for education and research. As part of Modisa Wildlife
Project, we are in the process of creating a program to secure the gene pool
of all cats. Captive wildlife can contribute greatly to this mission,
since many populations in the wild are isolated from others. We are now
looking at a situation where the gene pool in these smaller groups is
weakening. The genes of captive wildlife can easily be monitored, and
if needed, new genes can be brought to problem areas in the wild through the
reintroduction of the healthiest captive animals to these areas.
Not all of our animals will get the chance to
roam wild again, which is why we work to give them the best possible living
conditions for their retirement. We are also fundraising to secure the
outside fence of the 25,000 acres to keep lions in the reserve perimeter so
the young and capable animals can be reintroduced into the wild in the
You will feed these animals and spend time in
the wild dog enclosure to observe them and their fascinating social
behavior. You will be able to spend some evenings with the lions and you’ll
often hear them roar close by as the sun sets over the Kalahari.
While enjoying the unique opportunity to be
close to these intriguing wild predators, you will also learn a lot about
their behavior, their history and today’s problems for these impressive
Have you ever tried to find your way
somewhere without roads or signs? In our program, you will learn simple
methods to get your own directions. Using simple, common items like wooden
sticks, your analog watch and/or the sun and stars to help you orientate
yourself in the African wilderness. You will practice these skills using a
map or a compass, but the focus will be to find your way without using
technology. You will be able to practice orienting yourself several times
during your stay as you become more familiar and comfortable with the
Campfire Nights & Braais
Every night, you will sit around the
campfire-site, even on nights when it’s too hot to create an actual fire. In
the dry season, the nights can be very cold and the fire will be there every
night to keep you warm while you are enjoying your time before bed.
Social situations centered on fires have a
long tradition in Africa which we will bring to your experience. You can sit
and relax around the fire and chat about the day with other visitors and
guides, an activity normally reserved only for camping in your home
Every week there will be a braai night where
food will be cooked on the open fire. This will be one of the best meals
you’ve ever had, not only for the delicious flavors the campfire and
traditional cooking-style brings, but also because of the fantastic
Fence patrol will be done on horseback or by
car, depending on whether horses are available. You will ride or drive along
the outer fence of the farm to look for signs of animals breeching the fence
or any damages. Small damages will be fixed straight away while a team will
mend bigger problems. Furthermore, we continue lectures on the vegetation
and animals surrounding us, so you are able to practice and improve your
Vegetation Identification & Uses
The first thing you will learn is why we are
doing vegetation IDs and the importance of it. We will answer questions such
as: Why do we need to know what kind of trees and bushes there are on the
property? What do we do if the vegetation is changing? And what impact would
As the importance of Grass Surveys to
determine the number of animals that can live in the area vegetation ID
would give you a basic understanding of the vegetation in the Kalahari, and
even better understanding of the importance of everything around you. You
will learn how to identify the most common and most interesting trees in the
area and what they are good for and can be use as.
Afternoon with Botswana Researcher
Because of its fascinating wildlife, Botswana
has a number of scientific researchers in the country who work hard to learn
more about the Kalahari ecosystem and its animals. After independence,
Botswana was a country with few outsiders, but it has quickly become a
destination and home for an international community.
You will get the opportunity to spend an
afternoon with a researcher from Botswana or a longtime resident of the
country. They will tell you about life in Botswana after independence in
1966 and how the country has developed since then, and/ or what kind of
research they do and how they view nature conservation.
We cannot guarantee this experience at all
times, since the researchers are not always available as they are immersed
in their work.
Modisa accepts volunteers of 16+ years of
age. Volunteers under 16 years old are only considered when
accompanied by a parent/guardian. There isn't a maximum age limit,
though a reasonable fitness level is necessary.
2 weeks: GB£745 / US$1295
3 weeks: GB£1045 / US$1795
4 weeks: GB£1345 / US$2295
Extra weeks: GB£295 / US$495 per week
Volunteers receive a $100 discount when joining multiple Enkosini
uses USD rates as standard due to currency fluctuations. GBP rates
are indications of approx recent values. Currency convertor at
Volunteer contributions cover meals,
and project donation. Flights, travel/medical insurance, internet/phone
services and Okavanga River Lodge expenses are NOT included. The only
additional spending money required will be for personal purchases, social
excursions away from Modisa, and pre/post project travel. We do not have discounted rates for partial
Please bear in mind that the sooner you
apply, the better your chances of securing your placement!
Our program starts on a Monday, however
if you can’t make it to the beginning of a program and still want to
join us, we would be happy to accommodate you. Please be aware
that an extra charge for transportation will apply. You will
receive a special orientation so you can join the rest of the group as
soon as possible.
Volunteers should fly into the Maun
International Airport (MUB) in Botswana on the Sunday before their
scheduled Monday start date. Most volunteers fly to Maun via the
Johannesburg (JNB) or Windhoek (WDH) International Airports.
On arrival to Maun
Airport, the Okavango River Lodge will arrange your airport pick-up and
transfer to the Lodge for Sunday night stay (+/- $40 for food and
On Monday morning, a 4x4
minibus shuttle will pick you up at the Okavango River Lodge and transport
you straight to the Modisa camp (departing Lodge at 8am, arriving Modisa
mid-day). The shuttle costs +/- $50 each way, and payment can be made
directly to the Modisa team on arrival.
On the returning Monday,
you will depart Modisa mid-day by shuttle, back to Maun by around 6-7pm for
another night at Okavango River Lodge. We strongly recommend that you book
your return flight on Tuesday (NOT Monday evening) as road delays are
Some volunteers choose to arrive earlier than
Sunday to relax for a few days before the program starts. Just let us
know your arrival date so that we can arrange transfers accordingly.
Volunteers can exchange currency to Botswana Pula at the Maun airport.
The Modisa campsite is 4 km from the
Grassland Safari Lodge. We have safari tents for volunteers, which hold four
beds each and are separated by gender. At the camp, you will live
side-by-side with nature and its inhabitants, an experience that is hard to
find in the increasingly busy world we live in. At night, lions can be heard
roaring accompanied by the patter of herds of animals roaming outside your
tent. The campsite has two bathrooms and showers, with hot water and a great
view into the Bush. The facilities, coupled with the chance to live with
nature in the truest sense, will give you the ultimate African experience.
You will enjoy your stay in our comfortable
dome tents. All tents are secured with a natural barrier of thorny branches
to prevent unexpected encounters with the animals around you. The tents can
house up to four people, divided by gender.
Each tent is equipped with four beds, along
with linens, pillows, duvets and comforters.
The washing block is nearby with fresh, running water from the borehole.
Toilets and showers are fully equipped and hot water is provided.
Washing powder is provided for washing clothing by hand.
In our roofed sitting area you will have
three meals a day from our fully equipped kitchen and be sheltered from the
burning sun or the occasional rain storms in the wet season. The space has
wide-open sides so you can still enjoy the outdoors while keeping cool or
dry. Animals might be grazing within a few meters, and honey badgers, along
with other smaller mammals, occasionally pay a visit after sunset.
At our camp fire you will enjoy braai
(barbeque) evenings. During the cold winter nights, you will be able to
watch the amazingly clear African sky while the soothing heat of the
campfire provides enough warmth to keep you comfortable.
Every evening, the group will meet to watch
the sunset over the Kalahari and sit together to share their personal
stories and experiences.
Electricity is provided to our camp through
solar panels and will therefore only be available during the day for
charging cameras, computers, flashlights and other assorted goods. The tents
do not have electricity so we recommend a good head torch for reading at
The entire camp is set up to make you feel
safe and comfortable without changing the nature around you. This allows you
to experience the African Bush and animals every second of your stay without
harming them or disturbing their natural habitat.
We offer three meals a day. Our chef will
cook traditional dishes but also more familiar food over the fire. Once a
week we will have a braai where you will cook your own food at the campfire.
In addition the kitchen is equipped with snacks free of charge and
complimentary tea and coffee during your stay.
Other snacks and candy will be available for
purchase as well as beer, soft drinks and cider. We will provide occasional
trips to the nearby city of Ghanzi, where many goods are available for
purchase including more snacks and traditional cloth.
If you have a particular diet we are happy to
accommodate you. We can easily cook vegetarian food, but vegans will be
charged extra due to the added cost of providing such meals.
Training / Qualifications
Our program is for anyone over eighteen years
who loves nature, wildlife and social experiences with people from all over
the world. People who are not afraid of getting their hands dirty and
participating in the nitty-gritty of life in Botswana.
"Modisa. It has been my home for almost 4
months. I arrived at the end of April and with much tears, left at the end
of August 2012.
Modisa has been so much
for me. It’s a place where I discovered more of myself. It is a place of
lifetime friendships made, a truly leaning experience of nature, whether it
be birds, or trees or grasses and a place of never ending enjoyment. It’s
about going back to basics in order to fully appreciate and understand the
The experiences that I had
there will stay in my heart and I will cherish for a lifetime. I’ve slept
under the most spectacular light show on earth. I heard the majestic roar of
the lions every day as well as in my dreams. I think everyone, at least once
in their lifetime needs to experience that. Lions are known to be Kings and
each and every day I now understand how they have earned that title and
I’ve been given so many
opportunities to try something new (even though at times it was challenging
or frightening for me) and I became a stronger person because I was able to
conquer and overcome.
The bush food is
delectable. I was able to try so many new things! I even took
home with me a few extra pounds (okay maybe a little more). I was well taken
care of, and always felt part of a new family.
I can only highly
recommend Modisa to everyone that would like to have a truly unique life
experience. If you’re hesitant on coming, just do it. You will never regret
your decision. I came to give something to conservation, and what I received
in return was tenfold.
It was very sad for me to
leave but I will return. I will return to the sounds of the Kalahari, the
warm faces and new friendships and to a place I can call my home.
A million thank yous to
the Modisa staff and to Valentin and Mikkel for all their continuous hard
work and dedication in order to make this project happen. I will never
forget the kindness you shown me. - Tammy Raymond, Canada
"After two weeks at the project we hadn't
just learnt a lot about the African wildlife, we had also experienced it
ourselves! Living out in the camp is so much more that I ever expected; the
people, the animals, the life.
Even though Sirga, the lion cub, was priority
one when we were there, we also had time to do other amazing things! We fed
the big lions, went on game drives both day and night and got so close to
the wild animals. One morning, on the way back from the showers, a herd of
wildebeests just passed by! You are really living in the wild and that makes
the whole stay so much better. You never know what you are going to find or
see just outside your door! Modisa is really a once in a live time
- Emma Grundén, Sweden
"It is amazing how fast
time runs here at the Modisa Wildlife Project. I have now been here for a
week and two days, and it feels like I have just arrived! Except of course
that I now have come to know the people here a little better. We have so
much fun every day. And I have had so many crazy experiences already, that I
never thought possible before I left Denmark to come here. Just yesterday we
were feeding some of the lions with a wildebeest, and we sat in the open car
just about three meters from the eating lions – inside their enclosure! It
was SO awesome!
I have walked with the
little lioness, Sirga, once, and been feeding her at her lunchtime once too.
It is amazing to see her in real life now after I have followed the Modisa
Facebook page and seen pictures from when she was 4 times smaller than she
Sunday was our “day off”
so we have done some shooting – aiming for empty cans, not animals – for
fun, and I of course had to beat the crap out of the guys being the only
volunteer girl here right now. And so I did!
Yes, we really do have so much fun here. But
at the same time we are learning a lot about nature – both in general and
about this nature right here in the Kalahari – and wildlife management. And
that is of course the goal of Modisa Wildlife Project – to create awareness
of how the nature is affected by us, and how we can and should utilize it in
a way, that secures its sustainability. I think that it is so great to have
such an amazing experience and at the same time to get a lot of knowledge on
this subject for me to take home. I cannot wait for all the awaiting
experiences in the following four weeks!"
"The past week at Modisa
has gone too fast. We have done so much and have had so many amazing
experiences. We’ve fed lions and wild dogs, sat with the wild dogs, been on
game drives both during the day and night, walked and fed Sirga ( the
resident lion cub), had campfires and sleepouts, eaten amazing foods. We’ve
learnt heaps about the bush, Botswana and tracking, made walking sticks,
been upclose and personal with the lions, learnt how to cook, had amazing
photography opportunities, seen the stars like never before, helped the vet
out with sick animals and when we havn’t been doing any of those things
we’ve been busy working on the side projects around the farm.
This morning Val took me
on a walk with Sirga. She's going to be a great hunter some day. She’s been
honing her pouncing skills by slinking into the tall grass and then leaping
onto Val. This mornings walk quickly turned into a giraffe tracking session
when Val spotted tracks and eventually a herd of around 10 giraffes
including a baby.
Watching and helping with
feeding Sirga is a rewarding experience. Shes still drinking milk and is
also starting to eat some meat. She is a fussy eater and most of the time
she would rather play than eat.
Game drives are a huge
part of being at Modisa. A short drive to the lions or the lodge can quickly
turn into a game drive when some kudu or springbok pop up our of nowhere. On
the longer game drives we’ve seen amazing things. Yesterday we were
following ostridge, wildebeest, zebra and more. It can get really exciting,
especially when the herd decides that they want to run across your path
right in front of the car. Theres also tones of birds flying around all the
time and its pretty common to spot vulchures patrolling the skies. The other
night/ very early morning we went on a night game drive looking out
especially for predators. We didn’t see any predators but we did see lots of
other cool stuff and we finished it off by watching the sun rise over the
We went on a sleep out
last night and it was lots of fun. We walked out into the bush and chose a
good spot to make camp. Then Val left us volunteers for a few hours and we
set up camp. Val came back and we cooked steaks, onions and potato over the
fire. When it was time for bed we were all assigned an hour or two of
lookout duty. The night sky was incredible and before we fell asleep we were
looking out for shooting stars.
At Modisa I eat better
than I do at home. So far we’ve eaten game meats such as hemsbok, oryks,
eland and wilderbeast. When we aren’t eating fresh game meat we’re eating
something just as good such as stews, pastas, fresh bread, soups and rice.
Everyone helps out with the cooking and cleaning and theres always something
we can do to help out.
The wild dogs are very
chilled out animals. They are amazing to see in their natural habitat and
just sit with. We sat with them for hours the other day just watching the
adults and waiting for the puppies to come out of their den. It was awesome
to see them up close and a great photography opportunity. Not many people
get the chance to see wild dogs anymore. Yesterday Rob the vet came to the
campsite with rabies vaccinations for the dogs. We helped out with the
process and it was very cool to see how it was done.
We’ve been learning a lot while we’ve been
here. Val holds lectures about Botswana, geology and soils, wildlife
management, conservation techniques, animals, the bush, fore and water
management and ethology. On top of that we’ve been learning heaps about the
bush, tracking and animal behaviour. We are all master trackers now!"