Conservation Training Courses

Saving Africa’s endangered wildlife through informed, impact-driven projects, thereby enabling broad-scale biodiversity conservation

Everything you need to know

A four week course offering practical, hands-on training, underpinned by course material carefully developed by experts. Provides a unique understanding of the most up to date, in-field conservation techniques and practices, for nature enthusiasts or those considering a career in conservation. Includes practical Big 5 monitoring, data collection, management and research, learning about wildlife management and ecological principles, supporting research goals on the reserve, and engaging in habitat and reserve management activities as part of Wildlife ACT’s ongoing conservation programmes.

Prices in:





4 weeks


Conservation Training Course



Endangered & Priority Species Conservation & Habitat Management Course

All Wildlife ACT staff go through a comprehensive wildlife conservation training programme before being assigned to field positions on the various conservancies and protected areas we work on. Following continued requests from previous volunteers, interns and research students who expressed a desire to join our staff training programme, Wildlife ACT has adapted our field-staff training programme and developed our course in endangered and priority species conservation and habitat management.

The Conservation Training Course provides nature enthusiasts and those considering a career in conservation with the opportunity to train in parallel with Wildlife ACT staff in order to attain a practical skill set as well as a theoretical understanding of what it takes to become a field conservationist. The on-the-job training also gives you the opportunity to be a part of day-to-day wildlife conservation management initiatives on the world famous Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park – the oldest proclaimed protected area in Africa and the place where the White Rhino was saved from certain extinction in the 20th century.

As part of our vision to create a center of learning excellence, Wildlife ACT hosts small groups for those who wish to gain both practical and academic experience within the wildlife conservation field, as well as to provide educational experiences for nature enthusiasts. Wildlife ACT has created a 28-day programme designed to expose students to the various facets of African wildlife conservation and game reserve management. You will be involved in practical Big 5 monitoring, data collection, management and research, whilst learning about wildlife management and ecological principles. In addition to supporting monitoring, and in some cases, research goals on the reserve, you will engage in habitat and reserve management activities that are part of Wildlife ACT’s ongoing conservation programmes.

Download Our Conservation Training Course Project Document

What will you do and learn?

Working in association with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, our combined expertise allows us to incorporate a unique bush-learning experience while you participate in the day-to-day tasks and operations on a Big 5 reserve and in ongoing monitoring and research projects. The Conservation Training Course balances instructor-led learning with practical field-work. Each theoretical module will be aligned with practical-based activity, when possible, where students will sit in on weekly classroom lectures, carry out assignments and practicals, receive final report card evaluation and be awarded with a certificate of completion upon conclusion. The ratio of field to classroom learning is approximately 60 to 40 but will depend on the dynamics in the field at the time accordingly.

Students will learn and be competent in the following skills before they leave:

Wildlife Monitoring

  • Review of Monitoring Development: Modern monitoring techniques, technology and equipment, effective data collection and management, as well as monitoring ethics.
  • Specific Species Monitoring: African Wild Dog, Cheetah, Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant and Vultures
  • Ethology: Social systems, senses, communication, learning, protective behaviour, home ranges and territories, anticipating behaviour.

Camera Trapping

  • Pre-field work: survey type and setup preparation
  • In the field: considerations, security and details
  • Post setup: identification, analysis and photo tagging

Tracking and Spoor

  • Observing and interpreting
  • Identifying different types of animal tracks and signs: arboreal, terrestrial and aerial

Conservation and Habitat Management

  • Vegetation Survey methodologies: quadrat sampling, line and point intercept sampling (theoretical), and fixed point photographic sampling techniques (practical)
  • Game Count Survey methodologies: Road strip counts, aerial counts, walking transects and individual counts as well as data entry thereof
  • Fire: learning the theory of fire as a management tool
  • Soil erosion: types, causes, and preventative methods (practical techniques)
  • Bush encroachment and alien plant control: causes, control methods and techniques (practical techniques)

Game Capture and Relocation

  • Purpose and necessity: genetic populations, injuries or carrying capacity
  • Capture method theory: Mass capture, passive capture, immobilisation
  • Boma management: Structure and type, monitoring and protocols (theory and practical)

Wildlife Crime and Illegal Trade

  • Causes & drivers of Illegal Wildlife Trade
  • Impacts of Wildlife Crime & Illegal trade on wildlife populations
  • Potential solutions and problem solvers

Community Conservation

  • Issues and gaps: How Wildlife ACT is working to address changes
  • Ecotourism: How this benefits local communities
  • CCP engagement: meet Community Conservation Programme members (practical)

Who Should Join?

Anyone from the ages of 18 to 65+ is welcome to join this Endangered and Priority Species Conservation and Habitat Management course. Individuals with a keen interest in furthering their knowledge of not only wildlife monitoring, but also wildlife management and the material behind wildlife conservation, are encouraged to apply to join. What is required is to be;

  • In good physical condition (able to walk in the field for a minimum of 2 hours and be able to withstand being in the field during peak-day heat if an event requires)
  • Able to understand, communicate and write in English
  • Open-minded with an enthusiastic attitude and with the passion to want to make a difference
  • Have a basic ecological or conservation background (be it prior courses, diplomas and degrees or previous experiences) in wildlife and habitat conservation. This will help being able to easily pick up concepts (theoretical and practical) with the project requirements.

During the orientation of your first few days at camp, all Health and Safety aspects will be covered in detail. Please bear with us regarding the Health and Safety guidelines; it is there to protect you and ensure you are aware of all the risks and is an important aspect to the orientation.

Medical Information


  • Malaria: Zululand is a low-to-medium-risk Malaria area. You may wish to speak to your doctor concerning their recommendation regarding taking precaution medication. You should decrease your risk further by protecting yourself against bites by using insect repellents, sleeping under a mosquito net, and wearing lightweight, long-sleeved clothing in the evenings. Be aware that if you experience a fever one week to three months after visiting a risk area, you should get tested for Malaria (or tick bite fever).
  • Physical Fitness: The physical aspects are not overly challenging, but a reasonable level of fitness is recommended as the weather can be extremely humid and you will be working outside for a large portion of the time.

Health & Safety

  • Field Base Safety: All members will be informed of the risks, health and safety procedures for the field base on arrival. It is imperative that everyone both understands and respects them.
  • Personal Safety: Look after your important documents and take a separate photocopy with you. Do not wear excessive jewelry or walk around areas outside camp with valuable items on display e.g. cameras. Do not carry large amounts of cash.
Hluhluwe Research Camp

Where Will I Stay?

Conservation course students are based at the Hluhluwe Research Camp, which is located on top of a hill in a coastal scarp forest. The research camp is shared with other scientists and researchers carrying out studies in the Park, although their rooms are separate from our Wildlife ACT participants.

On arrival at the Wildlife ACT Hilltop campus, you will get time to settle in and unpack. During the first days Wildlife ACT course instructors will go through an orientation programme to familiarise you with all aspects of the course. The below provides some information to assist with this orientation process to make you aware of some of the camp structures, facilities and rules and regulations.

Accommodation & Facilities

Our Wildlife ACT students are accommodated in twin rooms, each with a desk and shelving/cupboard space for your belongings. Accommodation is shared with other researchers so students will share toilet and shower facilities. There is also a communal kitchen and barbecue area.

The camp is situated within walking distance from the main tourist camp – “Hilltop Camp”, which is open to the general public and has a restaurant and a small shop.

Internet & Communication

Please be aware that mobile reception in and around campus is very limited due to the isolation of the campus, and signal and connectivity problems are sometimes experienced. We recommend the use of Vodacom SIM cards for the best network coverage for the area.

Dinner Time!

Meals and Food

Meal preparation and food is all on a help-yourself basis. There is basic food supplied, however, if you require any “luxury” items, these will be at your own expense. There is a designated trip into town one day per week, thus food needs to last the full week.

Vegetarian Meals: Wildlife ACT endeavors to supply healthy, balanced ingredients to our vegetarian students, however, please note that due to the area in which the camp is located, as well as local cultures and customs and food budgets, it is not always possible to supply many vegetarian substitutes. Expensive items, such as tofu and soya milk, will be up to the student to purchase. Please make sure you inform us of any dietary requirements BEFORE joining the course. The Wildlife ACT kitchen may not be prepared for ‘surprise vegetarians’ upon arrival.

Wildlife ACT endeavors to conform with any previously-disclosed dietary requirements, however, please note only dietary requirements for medical reasons will be catered for. We unfortunately cannot cater for specific weight-loss or fitness diets unless medically important.

Essential Equipment/Clothing

  • Walking boots essential for everyday use.
  • Sun Cream. You will be spending a fair amount of time in the sun so please bring adequate sun protection. It is recommended that you apply a higher block than usual (30-45 SPF). The African sun is very strong and you could burn easily if you are not used to it.
  • Water Bottle (essential). Ideally 1.5 – 2 litre capacity.
  • Long trousers and long-sleeve shirts as in all subtropical areas, insects can be a nuisance, especially in the evening.
  • Fleece and/or warm jumpers, hat and gloves (for the African winter months: May to August).
  • Sun Hat. The sun is very strong and a wide-brimmed hat is essential.
  • Sun Glasses. A good quality pair of sunglasses is recommended. Make sure they offer 100% UV protection. If you do not wear sunglasses it may advisable to bring a pair of glasses with plastic lenses or safety glasses as these help to keep dust/insects/branches out of eyes - especially for on the evening drives back to camp.
  • Medical Kit. It is always useful to carry a small personal medical kit. This should include: Plasters, wound dressings and bandages, personal medication to last the duration of your stay, anti-histamine cream/ tablets, fungicidal foot power/cream, antiseptic cream/solution, Imodium tablets (x30) and rehydration (e.g. dioralyte) sachets (x 20), mild pain killers (eg. Paracetamol), tweezers, scissors, anti-nausea and anti-diarrheal tablets etc. Emergency travel kits can be purchased at most pharmacies and outdoor pursuit shops.
  • Waterproof/windproof Poncho or waterproof top and trousers recommended in the summer months (September to April). A windproof jacket is also essential throughout the year, particularly between July and September, when it can be windy.
  • A good pair of binoculars will really add to your experience. A magnification of 8x, 10x or 12x is recommended.
  • Reference or field guide books
  • Torch/Flashlight. A head-torch is required for night research and is recommended over a normal hand-held torch (LED lamps will make your batteries last far longer).
  • Please bring pens, pencils, pocket-sized notepads and an A4 notebook, which are essential for taking notes during class and on practicals. All other learning materials will be supplied.
  • If you have a laptop, please do bring it with you. It will be easier to make notes after class sessions or for study sessions and assignments.

Recommended Equipment List

Please note that the following equipment list is only a guide.

  • A day-pack/rucksack is recommended for everyday use.
  • Malaria Tablets. Please consult your doctor, pharmacy or travel clinic for recommended prophylactics.
  • Insect Repellent. If you are allergic to repellents, seek advice from your GP. You may also benefit from bringing tick repellent (Bayticol or Mylol) with you.
  • Swimming Costume.
  • Camera (would be an advantage for taking pictures for animal/bird identification, as well as for track and sign identification).

Other Personal Items (non essential)

  • Batteries for any electrical appliances (head-torch etc.)
  • Any snacks etc. as there are no shops in the immediate area / ones with limited supplies
  • It is advisable to bring sufficient toiletries as the surrounding shops do not offer much diversity of products.

2 Weeks



Transport Fee



05 August

30 September


Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP) is the oldest proclaimed protected area on the African continent. The Park is 960 km² 96,000 hectares and contains an immense diversity of fauna and flora. Due to the size of the protected area, logistically it is divided into two Management Sections: namely the Hluhluwe Section and iMfolozi Section, but the two sections are not separated by fences and are managed together as “one natural system.” Wildlife ACT’s main focus in the Hluhluwe Section of HiP has always included the monitoring of the African Wild Dogs, Lion, Cheetah, Vultures and Elephant populations. During these monitoring sessions, any incidental sightings of other priority species including Rhino, Ground Hornbill, Hyaena, and Leopard, are also recorded. Over time, through this hard dedicated work, a more hands on approach has been requested to aid HiP in behind the scenes conservation management. Wildlife ACT students will now, in addition to these components, also be involved in the logistical management of the above mentioned methodologies and surveys.