Something about innocent Dandelion princesses, Lesser baby parots and a stray dog

Sabine Meurrens
14 May 2018

It's funny really, how a small organization far away has left such a huge impression on me. Spending those months with Nature's Valley Trust was exactly what I was looking for after graduation. A bit of adventure, exploring a completely different part of the world, while gaining work experience in the field of conservation. As a bonus I got to meet a bunch of bright, passionate, hilarious people. Joining NVT is a great opportunity to get in touch with a big variety of projects. You get to assist checking White-fronted plover nests and chicks, do marine debris surveys on the different beaches in the area, help with school camps and holiday activities, gain experience in handling birds during ringing sessions and learn how to do water quality assessments. You can join on flower walks with Kellyn and get to know more about the fynbos, canoe the lagoon doing CWAC counts or stumble over rocks and through stinky mud while sampling invasive mosquito fish. You might get attacked by gulls as well or contribute to rescuing penguins and other stranded animals. There's seldom a dull moment being part of this team! Because it's such a small organization, you really feel involved in everything that’s happening. You’re not just an intern, you’re part of the family, it’s true.

Early morning Plover chick and nest check in the Valley2

Early morning Plover chick and nest check in the Valley.

All of this while you get to live in a stunning area, where you can do plenty of beautiful hikes and go swimming in the lagoon and ocean as often as you want! I truly had an amazing time in the Valley. Even enjoying the early mornings, seeing the sun rise over the beach. At NVT you can have the best of both; lots of outdoors work, spending long days in the field, but also more tranquil days in the office to work on your own assignments. And then there's the people you'll be working with, the staff members: Mark, the adequate boss ;), very understanding, kind and smart, with lots of ideas, very passionate and in for a joke as well. Britt, such a cool creative chick, an inspiring rocking conservationist, basically carrying the organization. That's also why we crowned her king president Brittany. I think... I’m not completely certain how we got to that anymore. There's also Craig...  I guess every office needs somebody to pick on, right? ;) For anyone in doubt, Craig is awesome, good-hearted and actually really funny! Very knowledgeable too, he surely infected me with his passion for birding. Kirwan, another rock, he just gets things done. He juggles many different projects at NVT and makes it look easy. A funny thing about Kirwan is his very own special communication technique; Sometimes he will not say a word, but he'll just make eye contact, pull some faces and add some hand gestures and expect you to get the message from that. Last, but not least there's Kellyn, always there for us interns if we needed something. I'm still puzzled how she did all she did, whilst writing her thesis. Working together with this motivated team, just triggers you to work to the best of your abilities too.



How could I leave this blog before mentioning my co-interns, my sisters, that made my stay so great? Thank you Liezl, for teaching me how to host a braai properly! Claire, for organizing the best nights out! Simphiwe, for making dishes that I will now forever crave. Thank you so much for taking me to your family over Christmas!! Dear, crazy Anathi, I miss your vivid way of talking, exclaiming 'Haibo!' and singing out loud like it's no one’s business. Louise, my horse-back riding buddy, so glad I got to be part of your interesting project! I really enjoyed the bird/bees observations! Happy also I still got to meet you, Natasha! Wishing you an amazing time during your studies ahead! I will come and track you guys down one day, I refuse to believe we might have said goodbye forever.

Continue the great things you're realizing in the valley and surroundings!

Proud and grateful to have been part of it,


PS: One piece of advice to other interns: beware December is a crazy month! The research is limited to a minimum and most of the time is spent organizing activities for the public. Which is also a great deal of fun, just know what you are getting yourselves into ;). Also, visit birds of Eden and eat an ice cream at the farm stall. That’s obligatory.