Mathias Groth Skytte - 2015 Program Participant
Why did you decide to apply for an international program?
I wanted to try something new, and since I have never been outside of Europe, I wanted to go somewhere new.
Why did you choose Modisa Wildlife Project?
I have always wanted to go to Africa and see the magnificent wildlife of the savannah in more natural environments than in the zoo or in the safari parks in my home country. Also, it is run by a Dane and a German, so I felt very comfortable being that it was my first time outside of Europe. If there was anything I was in doubt of, I could ask the Dane in our own language and know precisely what was going on.
A few of the many species of butterflies and other insects that spend A LOT of fun hours on
What was your favorite part the location of Modisa?
It was in the middle of nowhere, so I really got to see the wild animals, and got the feeling that you could get lost at anytime and would need to use some survival skills to make it (that of course is a little exaggerated).
What surprised you most about Botswana?
I did not read so much details about Modisa before I left, so I actually did not know that we were going to feed lions, leopards and wild dogs. It was a GREAT surprise to learn that was part of our job.
What makes Modisa Wildlife Project unique?
This place was not closed in, so every kind of wildlife (snakes, scorpions, antelopes, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, and so on) could come by your tent every night. The opportunity to get somewhat close to some wild animals within temporary fences was a very cool experience.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
The staff was very kind and tried to help in any way they could. If volunteers had a question or a problem, they never hesitated to drop what they were doing and help us. Even on their day off.
I will never forget this sunset and the Snake Eagle that flew over the car with a snake in its claws.
How difficult was it to communicate with locals?
It was not so bad. Most of the locals that I came into contact with spoke very good English, so that was not a problem at all.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I would have started to collect insects for identification sooner.
Describe a day in the life of your program.
Breakfast around 8 a.m., sometimes a drive to the see the sunset before that, followed by some kind of work or in the farm or the camp. This could be clearing the roads of branches and bushes, clearing out bones and waterholes in the enclosures, or building stuff in the camp. In my time, we were spending a lot of time building decks for all the tents in the camp. After lunch, we would continue with the same jobs or do some other things, like collecting firewood or feeding the animals in the enclosures.
What activity did you enjoy doing the most?
When we went on game drives in the morning or afternoon, and when Valentine took Sirga (a lioness he had raised from a cub) out for walk and hunt.
Building stuff in the camp can be hard work, but there is also time for breaks.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
We lived in single or two-person tents. I had a single person tent, which was really nice, because I did not have to think about keeping all my stuff in just one side of the tent.
What was the hardest part about volunteering abroad?
I think the hardest part was to leave Denmark. My trip to Modisa was the first time EVER leaving my country by myself, and the second time EVER to travel by plane, so it was very challenging when I had to arrange all my travels myself; but I also learned A LOT from this experience.
What is one thing you wish you would have known before volunteering abroad in Botswana?
I think I wish I would have known that I would do a survey on the insect fauna at Modisa. I did not bring a lot of equipment because I figured that I would not spend that much time on insects, but looking back I would have loved to bring some of my stuff.
Do you have any packing tips for future volunteers?
Maybe an extra pair of shoes if you go for a mokoro trip into the Okavango Delta. Mine were stolen by a crocodile after we fell into the water! Do tell my Mom I said that.
Now that you're home, how has volunteering abroad impacted your life?
I often think about Modisa, and almost every month I'm trying to think of ways how to get back there as fast as possible. I actually remember a day waking up and saying to myself, "I want to go to Botswana and live at Modisa Wildlife Project, and study the local insects for the rest of my life!" I will never ever forget my time at Modisa!
One of my favorite birds of prey from my time at Modisa - the Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk
If you could volunteer abroad again, where would you go?
I think I would go back to Modisa. First of all to say hello to all my friends that I made there, but also to see how far the insect project I started has come. Secondly, to continue the insect project. It was SO much fun and I to be able to spark the interest in other volunteers, when they came to look at antelopes and lions, it was a GREAT feeling!
Would you recommend the Modisa Wildlife Project to other volunteers?
Definitely! As my first time volunteering it was a great place. Everyone is very kind and the work can be very different. In the free time, there is NO boundaries of what kind of fun games or challenges you might do. In other words, if you get bored It will only be your own fault.