Join an exciting project in South Africa as a conservation volunteer! Make a real difference, grow your skills in conservation and have the experience of a lifetime!
This particular conservation programme is an extraordinary and exciting project, at the forefront of numerous species re-introductions and conservation drives.
If you want more than just a safari… come and get your hands dirty and learn more about conservation management on a Big 5 game reserve.
The Wild Inside Adventures Conservation Programme is the ultimate Big 5 experience, where volunteers from across the world get hands-on experience in conservation management on a reserve.
During the project you will act as an “Assistant Conservation Manager”, and all the work done and data collected by you will be utilized for conservation on the reserve.
Dedicated volunteer co-ordinators will ensure that you have a wonderful learning experience, leave with a stronger understanding of conservation issues, and the knowledge that you made an important contribution.
Our volunteers also get the opportunity to explore South Africa’s amazing coastline as the reserve is only 16km away from the beautiful Indian Ocean!
Volunteers will be provided with practical experience in both research and conservation management.
Come and make a real difference and have fun doing so!
Activities while on the project are varied, and no day is the same! Please see below for a list of possible activities:
Elephant Impact Monitoring
Volunteers help monitor elephant movement patterns and their impact on vegetation. Volunteers also record the unique ear markings of each elephant for management and identification purposes. Elephant identification sheets are given to each volunteer to help with monitoring and tracking. It is not long before volunteers start to recognise individuals and work out different personalities within the elephant herd!
Monitoring of Movement Sensor Cameras
Several movement sensor cameras are in place on the reserve. Volunteers monitor these cameras, change memory cards and record all images taken.
Leopards have been persecuted in the Eastern Cape for the last three hundred years, resulting in a decline in numbers, and putting the local population at risk of extinction. The aim is to establish how many leopards occur on the reserve. These cameras are moved around the property on a regular basis to increase the chance of sightings.
The cameras are also used to record and monitor sightings of other rarely seen species, such as brown hyena.
Monitoring of Lion Prey Selection
Another one of the volunteer's responsibilities is to record as many lion kills as possible. This data provides valuable information regarding prey selection.
The rhino poaching crisis is currently a huge conservation issue in South Africa. Volunteers help monitor and account for rhinos on the property on a regular basis. For safety of the rhino we do not divulge more information about this monitoring project until you are on the reserve. Volunteers may also be required to provide assistance to the reserve's anti-poaching unit.
Be prepared to learn heaps about birds, and go home with masses of new knowledge! Volunteers prepare a catalogue of the bird species, bird numbers and their breeding status in the reserve, as part of a project headed by the University of Cape Town’s Avian Demography Unit.
Other Conservation Activities Include:
Recording Age + Sex Populations of Specific Species of Wildlife
Making up and administering anti-parasiticides to wildlife when needed, using a variety of methods.
As well as any other conservation management activities that need to be completed at the time.
Alien Vegetation Control and Habitat Management
Volunteers assist in the eradication and control of alien (non-endemic) plant species in order to maintain a balanced ecosystem on the reserve.
Bush Encroachment Control
Selective clearing of bush on the reserve. This aspect involves physical hard work so be prepared to get your hands dirty!
Soil Erosion Control
Excessive soil erosion can be detrimental to the delicate ecosystem on the reserve. Previous land utilization practices like cattle ranching have also caused erosion gulleys in certain areas on the reserve. Volunteers assist with erosion prevention.
Reserve Clean Up
Volunteers assist in pulling out old cattle fences and water pipes that remain on the reserve. Road maintenance, fence patrols and repair of river crossings are also important tasks carried out by volunteers.
The following conservation activities do not occur on a weekly basis, but volunteers may get chance to take part, depending on time of year, availability and what needs doing on the reserve at the time:
Our recent volunteers had the AMAZING once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to assist with the capture of the following species on the reserve: elephant, lion, rhino, hyena, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra and impala! Please remember that captures only occur when required by the reserve. Capture may be undertaken to relocate animals for conservation reasons, to treat injured wildlife, or for tracking and monitoring purposes. If you have a special interest in game capture please also check out our Veterinary Programme as this may also be up your alley!
There are ongoing programmes for the introduction of additional game, depending on numbers of specific species of animals.
Controlled fires are an important part of conservation on game reserves. Targeted areas usually consist of old plant matter that over time, loses its nutrients and palatability. Volunteers may be involved with creating fire breaks, and observing controlled fires at certain times of year.
CONSERVATION EDUCATION + THEORY
- Each volunteer is given a field booklet, which can be taken home at the end of the project.
- Volunteers will receive lectures on conservation subjects to assist with their understanding of different tasks.
- Volunteers are taught how to identify different mammal, bird and plant species during their stay.
- Volunteers take part in bush walks, game drives and night drives - game rangers identify and discuss various mammals, plants and birds with volunteers.
- Sleep outs - camping out in the bush around a campfire, under the African sky (weather dependent). Volunteers have the chance to learn basic astrology.
- Coastal ecology outings
Volunteers spend one morning a week at the under-funded nearby farm school.The school educates approximately 95 local children between the ages of four to fifteen. Volunteers assist by taking some of the classes themselves, due to severe
under-staffing of teachers at the school. Volunteers teach basic subjects like English, Maths and Science, so don't worry if you don't have any teaching experience!
Volunteers may also help with the maintenance of the school’s facilities. Your contribution here makes an immense difference and both the children and the headmistress are very appreciative.
Please note that visits to the school do not take place during South African school holidays or on rainy days (most of the children walk about 10 km to attend school so if it rains, no one goes to school).
If you are interested in doing more community work, we also offer another project in which volunteer's time is split between conservation and community work. If this project sounds more suited to you take a look at our Conservation + Community Project.
The working week on the project is from Monday to Friday, with working hours depending on the season and varying between 7-9 hours per day. The evenings and weekends are for your own leisure.
Saturdays are reserved for trip to the nearby beachside village of Kenton-On-Sea where volunteers can shop, eat out and spend some time on the beach. Other Saturday activities are also available, at your own cost. These activities include:
Horse riding on the beach
Tandem sky diving
Deep sea fishing
Two day overnight canoe trail
Quad bike/ATM riding
Addo Elephant National Park field trip
Alternatively, you can also relax at the volunteer accommodation.
Accommodation is in a fully furnished volunteer house on the reserve (shared bedrooms and bathrooms). The house has a small plunge-pool for cooling off on hot days, and for relaxing around at weekends!
Wi-fi and a laundry service are available at the house.
Food is included on the project, with volunteers divided into teams and responsible for the preparation of meals on a rotational basis. Volunteers can also braai (barbeque) and socialise around the fire.
Vegetarians can also be catered for. For any other dietary requirements you may need to purchase your own food ingredients.