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Saugus Student to Aid Endangered Species in South Africa

SOCIAL CAUSES

Posted: February 9, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 9, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Tanya Flynn

 

Tanya Flynn, a local student from Saugus High School will be traveling to South Africa this summer, in a unique travel program to protect endangered animals and environments.

Working as a volunteer, Flynn will work on restoring the deteriorating natural habitat and declining animal population, following years of poor land practice and environmental devastation.

Under the leadership of an organization called International Student Volunteers (ISV), Flynn will join 20 to 50 other individuals from around the globe in a four-week program.

The program is divided into two equal parts — one part volunteer project, the other part adventure travel.

"ISV provides the perfect platform to experience an educational and transformative summer of volunteering and travel, two of my greatest passions," Flynn said. “I cannot fully engage in both during the school year, so this summer will be the best time to immerse myself in this crash course of culture and responsibility."

During the first two weeks in South Africa, volunteers dedicate their time to much-needed restorations of wildlife enclosures and infrastructure, helping with the daily care of cheetahs, wild dogs, brown hyenas and vultures.

They also play a vital role in the research and maintenance of some of Southern Africa’s most well-known game reserves and wildlife refuges, monitoring animal populations and maintaining the flora and fauna within the expansive terrain. To generate the greatest impact, each project is run in conjunction with local education and community leaders.

Some volunteers also spend time promoting environmental awareness to local children, passing the knowledge of sustainable conservation practices to future generations.

Following the volunteer work portion of the trip, participants embark on an educational adventure tour, traveling extensively throughout South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique while immersed in the local cultures.

Flynn will explore some of South Africa’s most exciting locations, experiencing such activities as caving in Swaziland, snorkeling with whale sharks and manta rays in Mozambique, visiting the Cradle of Mankind and learning local tribal dances.

Participants complete their educational tour of South Africa on an overnight wildlife safari at the edge of a game reserve filled with lions, giraffes, rhinos, hippos and other African wildlife.

South Africa has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world, but many of its unique animals are on the verge of extinction due to hunting, culling, urban expansion and poor land practice.

But, it also has a turbulent history, resulting in a great divide between rich and poor. As poverty continues to rise in South Africa, the animal population has faced increasing pressure from hunting, urban expansion and pollution.

Many of South Africa’s unique species need careful management and monitoring in order to survive and re-populate in the future. Carefully structured volunteer programs provide a means to make a real difference in conservation areas.

While international travel can be costly, ISV guides participants on how to fundraise for their trip, providing them with fundraising materials and the help of a student fundraising advisor. Some students work part-time jobs or reach out to family and friends to pay for their trip.

"I am working a part-time job and currently looking out for a second one in efforts to raise the costs for the trip," Flynn said. "In addition to organizing bake sales and fundraisers, sponsorship will greatly lighten the heavy financial burden of travel."

Those interested in making a donation to support Flynn’s volunteer efforts can contact her at flynnt93@gmail.com or 661-645-8785.

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