South Africa - The Big 5 Wildlife Reserve
Participate in research initiatives on Africa's "Big 5" wildlife species – lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, and buffalo. Contribute to research and conservation work and play a part in vital conservation activities.
|Location of Project||Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa|
|Project Length||Min 2 weeks - Max 12 weeks|
|Arrival Airport||Durban Airport. There are daily flights from Johannesburg or Cape Town to Durban|
|Volunteer Work||Animal conservation, research and observations|
|Number of Participants||Up to 8 international volunteers|
|Age||18 - 70|
|Special Note||This project will relocate from Thanda reserve to the Greater Kruger National Park on May 24, 2015.|
|Accommodation||Comfortable cabins on the game reserve|
|Food||3 meals a day|
|Support||Local in-country team and 24hr emergency support|
|Airport Transfers||Airport pickup upon arrival|
|Transport||Daily transfers between accommodations and project site|
|Pre-Departure Kit||Full project details will be sent following registration|
|Orientation||All necessary training and introductions provided upon arrival|
|Insurance||Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage|
What's Not Included
South Africa is a unique and interesting country with a plethora of stunning and diverse natural backdrops. Home to a wide variety of wild species, South Africa is the perfect destination for animal enthusiasts looking for adventure and a way to contribute to these amazing animals. Located on the northeast coast of South Africa, this private game reserve spans about 14,000 hectares of African bush and is home to Africa's "Big 5" wild animals.
PLEASE NOTE: The location of this project will change to the Greater Kruger National Park as of May 24, 2015.
About the Project
This project aims to both study and conserve some of Africa's most unique and beautiful wild animals and the land they roam on. It is a joint effort which collaborates with local and distant communities, Universities, and other reserves to learn as much as possible about these animals and their behaviors to better provide them with a suitable environment in which to thrive.
This reserve is home to a wide range of wildlife, and therefore has many different initiatives with each one. The main work is being done on Black Rhinos, elephants, and lions.
Their work with Black Rhinos focuses on providing these animals with a safe place to reestablish their population after a recent huge devastation due to hunting and poaching in the area. Today, there are fewer than 3,600 Black Rhinos left but after introduction into the reserve in 2009, the population has begun to see a slow but steady rise.
Elephant research is done on the reserve to better understand their roaming behaviors in order to provide the best environment in which they can thrive. Elephants in Africa often have conflicts with humans, so the aim of the work with elephants is to decrease these types of conflicts and let them free to roam in their own environments.
In the past 30 years, Africa has seen a decrease in its lion population of about 80-90%. Initiatives here focus on the reproductive, territorial, hunting, and social behaviors of the lions.
Volunteer Work and Contribution
Volunteers will be carrying out research on endangered wildlife within the reserve. This research provides critical information to the organizations dedicated to conservation of these unique and beautiful animals.
As a volunteer, there are a wide variety of tasks you will be involved with:
- Monitor the behavior, feeding patterns and movement of elephants.
- Collate and record data on a pride of lions. This entails being in the bush to observe hunting, social, breeding and territorial behavior at various times of the day (this may involve night drives).
- Monitor the rhino population to support data recorded by the anti-poaching team. This helps the reserve managers better understand the health of the rhinos.
- Capture data as requested by the reserve management team for their ongoing endangered species work.
- Carry out the physical work required to regenerate a natural environment for the animals. This includes prevention of further soil erosion and removal of old structures that may be harmful to the animals.
- Contribute to long term efforts of removing alien plants from the park.
Volunteers' time at the reserve will be split between the focuses of the program in approximately the following way:
- Big 5 monitoring: 40-50%
- Conservation work within the park: 30-40%
Data recording: 10-20%
Accommodations: You will stay in comfortable cabins within the reserve, shared with 2-3 other volunteers. There is a large communal thatched building with areas to dine, relax, and watch the animals. The accommodation is staffed with cooks and cleaners and all bed linen and towels are provided.
Food: Three meals a day are provided. Breakfast is self-serve and includes cereals, toast, coffee, and tea. Lunch and dinner are full meals and are prepared by the on-site cooks.
Internet: WiFi available at the lodge and costs around R40 for 30 mins.
Laundry: Laundry services are available for a small fee.
There are many additional travel excursions for your free time that you may arrange once on site. These include the following:
- Photographic workshop in the Drakensberg Mountains
- Swimming with dolphins in Mozambique
- Game drives to the Tembe Elephant park
- Boat and snorkel trips on the Kosi Bay lake systems
Trip to St. Lucia for whale watching (seasonal), relaxing on the beach, or boat excursions.
- Minimum age 18 years
- Good level of English
- Genuine love and concern for animals and the environment
- Immunizations (please consult your local travel clinic)
- Volunteers must be in good physical condition, as they will be expected to walk long distances and participate in intense physical activities
- Ability to work as part of a team, be flexible and cooperative
- Police clearance form
Check out GoEco volunteer Dane's video log of his amazing month in South Afica!