LSU Student Amanda Monceaux Enjoys Trip to Africa

2015 Crowley High Graduate Takes Learning Adventure

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LSU Student Amanda Monceaux Enjoys Trip to Africa

This lion was one of the many animals Crowley High graduate Amanda Monceaux saw on her trip to South Africa.

This lion was one of the many animals Crowley High graduate Amanda Monceaux saw on her trip to South Africa.

Amanda Monceaux

This lion was one of the many animals Crowley High graduate Amanda Monceaux saw on her trip to South Africa.

Amanda Monceaux

Amanda Monceaux

This lion was one of the many animals Crowley High graduate Amanda Monceaux saw on her trip to South Africa.

Amaria Johnson, Assistant Online Editor

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Amanda Monceaux, 21, graduated from Crowley High in 2015. Currently, Monceaux attends Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Monceaux’s love of animals and a strong desire to help improve their habitats and interactions with humans inspired her to double major in Biology and Wildlife Ecology. Monceaux expects to graduate in the spring of 2020.

Through LSU, Monceaux heard of a program in one of her classes that involve traveling and volunteering; Monceaux was on board. Unfortunately, it was not what she expected, so she decided to do her own research and happened upon the African Conservation Experience.

“They have multiple  volunteer opportunities with wildlife,” Monceaux states, “and one of them focused on exactly what I needed experience with: wildlife management.”

Apparently, the trip was not a requirement, but simply Monceaux wanting the travel experience and, most importantly, the career experience.

“This was my first time visiting Africa,” claimed Monceaux, “…the trip was what I expected, but also beyond what I expected, as well…We had the hands-on work that I expected, but we also had a sense of family that I didn’t expect.” Monceaux claims it was a “very welcoming place and the people were wonderful and so very polite.”

Monceaux went to South Africa by herself, but they’re around six to seven people staying in the volunteer house. “I got to meet many new people and I befriended a few of them, such as Deryn, a volunteer who lives in Oregon, Kate, another volunteer, who lives in London…and Richard, one of the wildlife monitors,” explained Monceaux.

Deryn Hock, 27, is from Evergreen Colorado and graduated Evergreen High in 2009. She is currently enrolled at Arapaho Community College in Colorado, trying for a degree in zoology/wildlife conservation. Like Monceaux, Hock also wishes to save animals in some way or another.

Helping one of the lions at the Phinda Private Game Reserve

Hock claims she “was lucky enough to meet Amanda while volunteering at Phinda Private Game Reserve.”

Hock and Monceaux spent three weeks together and were even roommates for one of those weeks, meaning that the two “spent pretty much the whole time together, with a couple other volunteers,” stated Hock.

Hock and Monceaux still keep in touch through social media, email, and texting. Monceaux is hoping to go to Colorado State University which is near where Hock is from. “I certainly hope to see her someday in the future in Colorado,” said Hock.

“I have so many special memories from that trip, it was truly an experience of a lifetime. Hock claims her favorite memory of that time was doing all of the Rhino conservation work.

“Right before Amanda arrived, I was lucky enough to be a part of a very large Rhino expansion project…Rhinos Without Borders.” beamed Hock. “They were able to successfully move a number of white rhinos to Botswana, where they could start revamping the population in a different area. We also did a lot of work with the monitoring of lions, cheetahs, and elephants.” She continued. Hock learned a lot about what she really wanted to do education and career wise and says she met some pretty amazing people along the way.

Cleaning a white rhino and helping it find a new home

“Along with going to Africa for three weeks, I also spent about a week in the UK,” claimed Monceaux, “My friend Karly and I went to Edinburgh, Scotland for four days and London, England for four days…” After eight days, Monceaux went down to Johannesburg, South Africa.

According to Monceaux, “Just the South Africa portion of the trip costed about $5,000 and the UK portion costed about $2,000. I started a GoFundMe, but I maybe got $350-$400 from that, I received money from family and friends outside of that as well. My mom paid for the UK portion as a gift and I took out a $5,500 loan to pay for most of it.”

In total, Monceaux had eight flights: New Orleans to Boston, Boston to London, London to Edinburgh, Edinburgh to London, London to Johannesburg, Johannesburg to Richard’s Bay. She then took a taxi with a few of the volunteers who arrived at the same time as her to the reserve, which was provided with the program.

“On the way back, we took a taxi to Richard’s Bay, then flew to Johannesburg…” Monceaux states. She then flew to London, Boston, and finally New Orleans.

“I didn’t get much chance to visit other places off the reserve. In total, I went to Phinda (pronounced Pinda) Wildlife Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, a province of South Africa, Hluhluwe (pronounced Shlu-shluwee) for grocery shopping once, and Sodwana Bay Beach for a day.” Monceaux said.

Monceaux claims, “All of the trip was fun, even while working we were still having fun and enjoying the task and each others’ company.”

“This trip gave me important experience in the wildlife management field. I received helpful knowledge about the workings of management and research. It will be a nice addition to my resume.” Monceaux claimed.

As expected, Monceaux claims the trip made her more confident in her abilities in the field, “but also just in life, in general. As always, with travel comes a little more worldliness and culture. I got to have a better understanding of the way people live in South Africa…I would love to go on a similar trip, but right now I have to focus on finding paid opportunities because that was quite an expensive endeavor.”

Elephant family walking across a street in Africa

Monceaux concludes with, “This trip was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had. I learned so much and got to do so many things, and I absolutely loved being among the animals in their own natural habitat. I especially loved how close we got to the animals: big animals like lions, cheetahs, rhinos, elephants, and many more! The house we stayed in didn’t have the ground fence, only the tall elephant fence which is about 5 feet off the ground, so animals were always in our yard. Impala, jackals, inyala, hyenas, and even cheetahs a couple of times. I loved everything about it so much!”