We have award-winning, Fair Trade Tourism certified African wildlife volunteering opportunities currently running in South Africa and the Seychelles. Conservation volunteering in Zululand forms part of our Endangered Species Monitoring Programme. Our Seychelles Conservation Project focuses on endangered species monitoring, marine conservation and ecosystem restoration.
Finalist for a Global Youth Travel Award
Second Place for a World Responsible Tourism Award in the category “Best for Wildlife”
Second Place for an African Responsible Tourism Award in the category “Best for Habitat & Species Conservation”
Get involved in real endangered wildlife conservation and have the ultimate African wildlife experience while doing it.
Until we do welcome you onto our conservation volunteering projects, please consider joining us virtually, either by taking our online Conservation Training Courses, or by making a monthly donation to receive live updates from the field. Click on the buttons below for more.
Zululand is recognized as one of the most biodiverse wildlands in Africa, with much of it declared a World Heritage Site. Wildlife conservation volunteers work across 5 unique parks – most of them nationally proclaimed reserves. For every 2 weeks that you join us as a conservation volunteer, you will have the opportunity to live and work on a different park. Our work focuses on endangered and priority wildlife species, including the African Wild Dog, Cheetah, Rhino, Lion, Elephant, Leopard and Vulture.
Requirements: Ages: 18 - 65+
Project Type: Volunteer
Duration: 2 weeks +
R22,000.00 First 2 weeks R15,700.00 Every following 2 weeks
Wildlife ACT is officially contracted by the international wild cat organisation, Panthera, to conduct Leopard population surveys within South Africa. This involves conducting a number of exciting, short-term Leopard Population Surveys using remote camera trapping survey methods. The survey is the largest on Leopards of its kind in the world where we’re working together with provincial parks to help inform management to improve Leopard conservation.
Requirements: Ages: 18 - 65+
Project Type: Volunteer
Duration: 2 weeks +
R22,000.00 First 2 weeks R15,700.00 Every following 2 weeks
Our Seychelles volunteer project focuses on three key aspects: Endangered Species monitoring, Marine Conservation and Ecosystem Restoration. For a unique ecotourism experience which allows you to give something back by supporting a dedicated conservation research and volunteer team on a private tropical island paradise, come and support those volunteering in the Seychelles. Ecotourists live and experience land and marine conservation life on the exclusive North Island in the Seychelles – considered by many to be the most beautiful archipelago in the world with its luminous white beaches, granite outcrops and azure oceans.
The Southern Drakensberg Conservation Project is a fairly new project focusing on the monitoring of endangered and critically endangered vultures, and various other much needed priority species and protected area boundary conservation work. The vulture conservation work involves nest monitoring and vulture-safe feeding site management and monitoring, management of a long-term camera trap survey and various protected area boundary support, such as alien plant control and emergency response for issues related to vultures and other priority species.
A unique project which combines our ongoing work conducting the largest camera-trap based leopard census in the world, along with surveying the northward migration of Humpback Whales off the coast of Southern Africa to investigate population growth. *Please note that we have concluded our Whale Survey project and hope to run it again soon! Dates TBA
Requirements: For Ages: 18+
Project Type: Volunteer
Duration: 2 weeks +
R6,750.00 First 2 weeks R6,750.00 Every following 2 weeks
We offer the first wildlife volunteer programme in Africa to be Fair Trade Tourism certified! “We have a high regard for Wildlife ACT’s contribution to conservation and are thrilled that they are now able to display the Fair Trade Tourism mark” – Jane Edge, MD of Fair Trade Tourism
Unlike other volunteer organizations that work solely on small, private game reserves (used as farmland in the past) we work predominantly on large, nationally proclaimed and protected game reserves that have always been home to wildlife – giving you a real sense of the true African wilderness.
The Wildlife ACT experience is unmatched in terms of the type of work we do and the diversity of species we work with, including the ‘BIG 5’. We have been reviewed on several online platforms and the feedback we receive is overwhelmingly positive.
No more than six volunteers are allowed per reserve at any given time. Unlike other volunteer projects we are not a glorified safari where up to 10 people get on one vehicle and as many as 30 volunteers on one private reserve.
Our team members are highly qualified and focused on real conservation work. Our one founding member, Dr Simon Morgan, holds a PhD in Black Rhino Ecology. Our other founding member, Chris Kelly, completed his studies in nature conservation before a long career in wildlife monitoring, game capture, relocation and reintroduction.
Wildlife ACT has been extensively reviewed on multiple and reputable websites, including TripAdvisor, GoAbroad & GoOverseas. It currently has a rating of 9.9 out of 10 and 97% respectively with gold star verification!
Wildlife ACT was awarded with both a World Responsible Tourism award and an African Responsible Tourism award in the category “Best for Habitat & Species Conservation” in South Africa (and second in Africa) – an event that promotes and supports responsible travel.
Wildlife ACT is looking for people who want their contribution, in terms of their time and funds, to be effectively utilised in genuine conservation efforts. If you wish to be a part of a professional conservation team, make a real difference and experience important conservation work in Africa, then you are the kind of conservation volunteer we are looking for!
Anyone from the age of 18 up can join our team. All you need for wildlife volunteering is the passion to make a difference, have a good grasp of the English language, be in a reasonably good physical condition and most importantly, have a good attitude. And remember: This is Zululand, not Disneyland!
You can make a no obligation application at any time. ENQUIRE NOW
Make contact with us Fill out our simple online application form to become a conservation volunteer.
Ask our expert Bronwen Kelly is our friendly and helpful reservations manager. She will guide you through the process and make sure your plans come together.
Pay your deposit When you are happy with everything, you can secure your place by paying your 30% deposit. 70% of your remaining balance will be due four weeks before you arrive in Africa.
Book your flights You will be responsible for booking your own flights.
We collect and drop off all our participants at RICHARDS BAY, which is the closest airport. You would need to book your international flight arriving in JOHANNESBURG (O.R. Tambo International Airport), followed by a short internal flight from Johannesburg to Richard’s Bay (RCB). Please see the “How Do I Get There” tab on our Project Page for more info about flights.
When you arrive at Richards Bay airport, you will be collected by an organised responsible transfer company with a sign. All arriving conservation volunteers will be transported by the transfer company to a central meeting point, where you will be met by your respective Wildlife ACT wildlife monitors, who will then take you into the reserve, on the back of a monitoring vehicle. On the Monday of your departure you will be transported back to Richards Bay airport to catch your departing flight home.
Contact us at any time for help and advice
We guarantee you a prompt response to your enquiries. You will be able to contact the Wildlife ACT team on the reserves at any time during your preparations, so you will have access to all the latest developments live from the field. The Wildlife ACT team can also help you with specific enquiries relating to latest animal sightings and other interesting news as it happens. For the latest news, visit our blog.
Most conservation volunteers join Wildlife ACT for 4 to 12 weeks, with a minimum stay being two weeks. We maintain a small volunteer group of no more than five people per reserve and therefore recommend that you apply as soon as possible in order to confirm the dates that suit you.
Wildlife ACT runs a number of projects so we are in the unique position to offer you the opportunity to join us on more than one reserve, giving you the chance to experience diverse aspects of wildlife conservation. The opportunity to work on multiple game reserves depends on the length of your stay. If you stay for only two weeks, you will work on one reserve, but for every additional two weeks you stay, the better your chance of experiencing another reserve.
Please Note: Once bookings fill up, placements will be made based on where there are spaces available. Although we do our best to keep to the planned schedule once bookings are confirmed, all placements are subject to change should there be a specific need at any time.
If you are ready and excited to start planning your trip, but discouraged by a financial road block, Wildlife ACT has another solution for you. We have teamed up with FundMyTravel, who provides us with an online platform where you can fundraise for your meaningful travel experience. How does it work? You create a campaign page, complete a brief profile to build trust, add a video and tell your story!
FundMyTravel has a team of dedicated staff who want to help Wildlife ACT participants reach their fundraising goals. They can provide tips and insights on the best ways to spread your word and offer sharing tools to get your campaign greater exposure through social media and email. Click the button below to learn more and get started!
Angela Heekmann (Germany)
I wanted to volunteer for many years. I really can say, it was the best decision of my life to do this. It was an amazing experience and a pleasure to join the monitors in the field and to work with them. It was great to meet such wonderful and passionate people (the monitors and also the other volunteers). The work of Wildlife ACT is incredibly important. There were many highlights… Tracking the animals (above all the wild dogs) was awesome. We had some great sightings of the dogs, Elephants, Rhinos, a Leopard, Cheetahs, even Crocodiles, Vultures and so much more. Being around when they managed to get a pack of Wild Dogs back into the reserve, was such a pleasure. But also the evenings in the camp, listening to the monitors and their stories, learning about the animals… everything was perfect! Both our monitors were awesome. Friendly, helpful and always fun. They both live their whole life for the animals and their protection. It was a pleasure to meet them, to learn from them, and to help them with their daily work. I enjoyed everything, even the bad weather days 😉
Elke van Gils (Netherlands)
It was wonderful! What an experience and what a pleasure to work with such great people! Wildlife ACT is a great organisation and I really like the system of taking volunteers out in the field and using the money to actually run the projects. It is very much focused on conservation, instead of a sanctuary or rehabilitation center like many other places. There are so many highlights. It is just wonderful to join the monitor in the field, tracking the species and helping them on the job. We had great sightings of Elephants, Rhinos, Leopards, Wild dogs, Lions, Cheetahs and many more. Our monitor was really skilled and devoted, and as well a very friendly guy.
Nellie Kirchner (Germany)
My time in iMfolozi Park was amazing! Those two weeks are among the most special, exciting and adventurous weeks of my life so far! I’ve wanted to get to know African wildlife for a long time. A day safari was somehow never an option for me. Instead, I wanted to delve deeper into nature and the wildlife of Africa. Thanks to you, this dream has now come true and it was simply wonderful and unforgettably beautiful. Thank you so much for this amazing experience!
Martijn Zantinge (The Netherlands)
I had an amazing time both thanks to the awesome sightings, the work we were able to do, and also the professional monitor. Every day was rewarding, even the days in which we found very few animals. I’m definitely planning on coming back in the future and highly recommend Wildlife ACT to friends and family. The overall pre-arrival/booking experience has been very good. We had to reschedule 4 times due to the whole Covid crisis, once even just 2 weeks prior to arriving, but this never was an issue. I definitely feel that Wildlife ACT is making a contribution based on what I have seen.
Alina Mey (Germany)
I was totally overwhelmed by the kindness of both our monitors as well as our volunteers, who all had a passion for conservation, the bush, and also people. The monitors are definitely a make-or-break point for having a good experience. They taught me everything I could absorb about the bush, introduced me to reserve management, and also brought me closer to South African culture, habits and food. Due to them, I had the best experience I could have hoped for with Wildlife ACT and feel like I could really contribute to conservation. We had an excellent time. The monitors know the area and the animals’ behavior insanely well. I was positively surprised how considerate they are with respecting the animals and their individual needs, e.g., do not get too close, do not interrupt when hunting. I do feel like Wildlife ACT makes a significant contribution towards conservation.
Eli Rex (United States)
I felt very involved with what was going on and the team is very informative and helpful. I was able to see how I was directly having an impact on the species and understood the importance of monitoring them. The work is important and is what I expected. Having the opportunity to spend so much time with the individual animals that we are scanning for was a real highlight for me.
Apoorva Sodhi (India)
It was an enriching experience to have been engaged as a research volunteer with Wildlife ACT at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve. It was a great two weeks that mainly involved monitoring Cheetah, Lion, Black Rhino, Vultures and the African Wild Dogs using VHF radio telemetry, along with setting up and checking of camera traps and collecting wild dog scat for genetic analysis. The excitement was heightened by incidental sightings of the White Rhino, African Elephants and the calls of the Spotted Hyena, among other fascinating creatures of South Africa!
The high point of the entire experience was participation in the radio-collaring event of a Lioness under the supervision of the Wildlife ACT Monitoring Team of iMfolozi, field rangers and the vet of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife as part of the ongoing Endangered Species Conservation Project. All in all, a superlative time in the wild!
Barbara Varekamp (Netherlands)
The conservation training course was amazing – I loved it so much! Being out in the bush was my highlight and as I learned new things each day, my love for the bush grew even bigger. The course content is very extensive and it was so interesting to apply the theory into practice. Also, it was a great feeling that my work actually contributed to the conservation efforts of Wildlife ACT. Wildlife ACT is such a great organization and I’m so happy and honored to have been a part of the team for 6 weeks (I added another 2 weeks of volunteering after the 4-week course, great choice!). The monitors I was with know so much about the bush and are all amazing and fun people with a huge passion for wildlife – it’s infectious! Thank you all so much for the most wonderful and unforgettable time!
Florian Krueger (Germany)
This was one, if not the best experience I have ever had in my life. I’ve learnt so much about conservation work, the flora and fauna, and the cooperation with different people and organisations. I understand now much better why this work is so important and I am glad that I could be part of it. It was a kind of privilege and honour for me to assist in all the activities. The monitors were amazing, friendly, funny and have great knowledge. They have taught me a lot.
Phillip-Noel Kettner (Germany)
Amazing!!! I had a great experience and met so many nice people. The booking process, accommodation and field work, all way exceeded my expectations. It was great to see how the uMkhuze Cheetah cubs had grown since I last saw them 1 month before. My highlight from all my 8 weeks was the re-collaring of a Wild Dog on iMfolozi. But everything was a highlight because it was never boring. The whole experience was a highlight for me!!!
Brandon Ceplecha (United States)
My experience was everything I had hoped it would be. The monitors were informative, charismatic and courteous. The admin staff was quick to respond to my inquiries regarding a Covid test and helping me secure my luggage, for which I am very appreciative. Lastly, Wildlife ACT provided me an opportunity to engage in noble conservation work that is dedicated to helping the animals I love. There are plenty of organizations that claim to do this but sadly not all actually follow through. I did my homework to find exactly the right fit to make a small contribution to a larger cause. Thank you all for allowing me to live this dream.
Valerie Bausch (United States)
The field experience was outstanding. I enjoyed getting to have a hands-on experience with the Painted Dogs. The team at Manyoni Game Reserve is very knowledgeable and patient. There are so many highlights but the full process of darting and transporting the Painted Dogs and working side by side with vets was simply fantastic!
Pedro Marques João (Portugal)
It exceeded my overall expectations. All the members I came across were very helpful and prompt with answering any questions and it was overwhelming to assist and experience in the field the high quality and professional work done by Wildlife ACT for the conservation of endangered species. It’s very comforting to know I was a tiny part of a real conservation project. Everything was very clear and the information you provided with pre-booking is very complete. My main difficulties were related with getting a Covid test for my return trip, but even that was sorted out with a couple of emails.
Having in mind the true purpose of the project and the fact we are here to be volunteers and not on vacation, the accommodation was good. Our monitor (Jarryd) was very professional and fully dedicated to the conservation cause and his monitoring job. It was amazing to see such a young person, so worried about the animals, skipping meals, breaks, hours of sleep, just to make sure they were safe. He also keeps a good relationship with other park professionals, such as rangers, vets and park managers.
Victoria Taylor (United Kingdom)
An absolutely incredible experience. Wildlife ACT and the whole conservation team are welcoming, professional, friendly, proficient, and impeccably hardworking. Their dedication to their positions and the wildlife in the Park is inspiring. The process was so smooth to book, and the team are so accommodating when it comes to transfers and taking time out to get Covid tests etc. Really excellent.
It is very clear that the work carried out by the teams informs the management processes of the reserve, and although a lot of the work is reactive rather than proactive, it is crucial to keeping these animals safe. Every big change takes millions of tiny acts of effort, and that is what these monitors are doing every day; doing their bit to ensure the safety of the individual animal, and sharing the knowledge and the compassion with volunteers and park visitors, to hopefully inspire others to also do their own tiny acts of effort.
Being present at the re-collaring of a cheetah was a major highlight! Absolutely amazing to be there during such a crucial part of the monitoring process. Thank you again to all the team for allowing us to be there.
Hanna Boon (South Africa)
I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The monitors were beyond expectation and the field work was an unbelievable learning experience and I learnt a lot more than expected. Everything at the accommodation was lovely and clean. My highlight was being lucky enough to see the Wild Dogs released from the Boma. Overall an amazing time all round.
Nathan Welham (United Kingdom)
The overall experience was great fun; being able to see a variety of wildlife as well as being able to help with the tracking via telemetry as well as the complete surprise sightings (Black Rhino on our way back from tracking the Wild Dogs as one example). As well as being involved in the process of assisting the game wardens in locating and being present for the de-snaring of a Painted Dog. With the great company from both the other volunteers and the monitors through Wildlife ACT, also makes the experience a great plus. All the information supplied before arrival was clear and ensured that everything was correct and we knew what would happen in any instance.
Jacqueline Schooltink (Netherlands)
It was a very awesome time, which ended too fast. I have learned so much about the problems around conservation. I live in Germany and the problems are so far away and you don’t know all about them, but now I know it’s really time to do something. It’s not a small thing to save all these different species and it needs a lot of time and many people to help. It was a very awesome and special experience which I will never forget.
Gilbert Bate-Charlton (Australia)
Unreal. I have made new friends for life. This has literally given me a new lease on life and really helped me to visualize what I want to do with my life. I enjoyed that my work around the camp didn’t go unnoticed. Maintenance around the camp was good as it kept me busy during the days. I will genuinely be coming back. Our monitors were welcoming and have a wealth of knowledge. They kept us on our toes and also kept us in tears of laughter throughout the two weeks with their stories from over the years.
I will also definitely be suggesting the experience to family and friends. Everything way exceeded my expectations. Everything was very clear, organised and smooth sailing. The accommodation is everything you need. Field work was unreal. Taking daily turns allowed it to be shared around and didn’t make it become boring. Was also good to learn more about genuine tracking and not just telemetry.
Hazel Dykes (Scotland)
Excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed every day. We were given lots of opportunities and the fact that the Wild Dogs were being released from the boma whilst we were here, was just fantastic. Having previously volunteered in South Africa, I was hoping that this experience would be better, and it certainly was.The small group really helps and you really feel part of the team and that the monitoring work you do is valuable. The monitors are great and all the other staff that we met were very welcoming and thanked us for our support. It is quite apparent that the reserve staff rely on Wildlife ACT’s work to help them run the reserve. They can be called on at anytime and are always happy to respond ASAP. They stick to the rules and give the lodge staff priority for their guests when necessary.
Fantastic! Amazing experience. I felt very much apart of the project, not just by viewing, but by being hands-on. I think we were very privileged to see the darting and release of Wild Dogs back into the wild. We got to see a variety of mammals and had a better understanding of how the projects are crucial to wildlife conservation. I feel I had the best experience even though the days were long.
Amazing.I enjoyed everything, but we were also very fortunate to be part of and experience some very special things, including releasing the Wild Dogs and helping to track and find a Cheetah and his sister post darting. In addition to the events we experienced it was so good to feel that the work we were doing with Wildlife ACT had an important role to play in the running of the reserve,and also that the reserve management really appreciate it. Our monitor was also excellent – both very professional and also good fun.
Maud Astier (France)
I had an amazing experience with professional men and women. I found what I was looking for: animals and a commitment to protecting them. The monitors are dynamic and happy to meet you. The other volunteers made up an excellent group and a good mix, which was a very good thing. Each person had found one place in the mission. A special thank for to the team and Marumo!
My experience with Wildlife ACT exceeded expectations; and I was expecting (or at least hoping) for a lot. The monitors were personable, helpful, knowledgeable and professional. The opportunity to accompany the monitors on the vehicle each session, and to assist with locating the wildlife, was amazing. The experience was enhanced significantly by the generosity of each monitor in explaining what we were seeing or doing and by taking the time to allow us to absorb the countless magical encounters. Truly memories for a lifetime.
The quality of the fieldwork experienced by the volunteers is determined by the expertise and energy of the monitors. Wildlife ACT seems to have assembled an all-star staff who appreciate the opportunity to share Africa with people from around the world. Because I was not familiar with Wildlife ACT, my initial contact was with the purpose of trying to develop confidence in the legitimacy of the organization. I found Bronwen very helpful in working me through the process. The Tembe Elephant Park research camp accommodations were also very comfortable, safe and easy to manage all daily living routines.
Thanks go to the monitors who shaped the entire experience so positively.
Allyson Pierce (United States)
I have had an amazing experience! The Parks are absolutely beautiful, the animals are awe-inspiring, and the people (volunteers and monitors) are fabulous. Everything way exceeded my expectations. I was only met with kindness and ease during the pre-arrival and arrival process. Seeing the Wild Dog puppies as well as the re-collaring of a Lion, but also so many more incredible animals, people, and experiences, have all been highlights. I don’t think that I have smiled this much in a long time!
Sandrine Bouchard (France)
I had an amazing experience with WildlifeACT, which was different from my previous volunteering experiences. It was extremely interesting and enlightening to learn what daily monitoring is like. It is indeed not Disneyland, but looking for needles in a haystack every day is really exciting! The monitors obviously contribute to the fun with their passion for the bush and their commitment. Thanks guys!! My highlight was without a doubt the incredible chance to see the Nqholoti Pack and to participate in the darting and re-collaring of a dog. Totally unexpected and simply unforgettable!
Aidan Cowan (United Kingdom)
I wouldn’t change a thing and I’d go back in a heartbeat. This was the most awesome experience I’ve had and sharing time in the company of knowledgeable and dedicated professionals who go above and beyond to protect wildlife, will live with me forever. My pictures are a fantastic memory but do not give justice to the emotional roller-coaster; I’ve felt anger, relief, sadness and absolute joy during my 2 weeks and witnessed close-up the incredible work of the Wildlife ACT monitors, reserve management, staff and the vets. It’s been an incredible adventure and I’ll be back. (Can I book more sunshine?)
Louise Rolland-Guillard (France)
It was a magical experience. I learned a lot about the country and the work of monitoring and Zululand wildlife. Looking for the same animals regularly is perfect I think, because we get attached and learn to know them. This makes a huge difference compared to a safari where you only point at animals. The Wildlife ACT experience is just what I was looking for.
Tijana Mladenovic (Serbia)
Outstanding!!! I am going to repeat it. Two weeks were definitely not enough! Living in the bush is like going back to your roots! Great experience! I can’t give enough thanks to our extraordinary monitor Fi for making it even more exciting! Catching the sunrise at the best coffee spots was also so great.
Megan & Chris (United Kingdom)
In one word: Incredible! The team here are so amazing and knowledgeable about everything and they all care so much. It was truly a wonderful experience and seeing these amazing animals in their natural surroundings has really been a blessing. Keep doing what you are doing and we are really hope to come back one day. All the monitors we had in our time here were 100% exceptional. If I am honest, everything was a highlight, but being involved in the collaring of a Wild Dog on the second day was simply amazing!
Deon Appelcryn (South Africa)
September & October 2019
I absolutely enjoyed my time here. I came for a learning experience and to improve on a few of my skills, which the monitors were happy to help with. Wildlife ACT are a great team, work so well together, and really are a great bunch of people! Nice to have everyone join in and feels like one big happy family.
Seeing African Wild Dogs for the first time in their natural environment blew my mind. Learning their behaviour and learning tracking was the best thing ever. I have learnt more than I ever would have thought. It’s very different from what you read or documentaries you watch. Seeing the puppies and tracking them to the new den, was something I don’t think many people get to see first-hand.
Again, our monitors were absolutely awesome! They went out of their way to make us feel welcome and shared so much knowledge and gave as much time for us as needed. They are true conservation rock stars dedicated to the max, which is inspiring. I would come back again as many times as I can based on the above, and knowing that we helped with making a difference and were part of something truly great. I would recommend this to everyone.
Sylvie Van den Bossche (Belgium)
I had an absolutely wonderful time here. It was even better than expected. I learned a lot and am eager to know and learn more. Our monitors were both excellent – very knowledgeable and a pleasure to learn from. Their enthusiasm and willingness to go out every day to look after the magnificent animals they have out here, is amazing and a pleasure to see. I found our hours out in the field to be the best thing ever. I was also very pleased with the fact that I was able to do admin work to see what and how the data collected is used. This will come in very handy for my upcoming studies.
Hannah Swanson (United States)
August, September & October 2019
My experience was so, so good. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to observe so many incredible things – a Cheetah darting, a Wild Dog bonding, the Leopard Surveys, and of course all the wildlife you encounter along the way. The monitors were incredibly friendly and kind, and although some days were long and felt like a stretch, you always felt you were contributing to real and important work. Thank you, thank you, thank you for six incredible weeks which have helped assure me more than before that conservation is the field for me.
Kelly Patri (United States)
From day one I knew this would be one of the best experiences of my life. And after only one week of volunteering with Wildlife ACT, I found that it absolutely was! Learning about the beautiful animals and flora, viewing the stunning landscape, working as a team with my fellow volunteers and monitors, and knowing it all makes a difference for the animals, environment and our earth, were things I never imagined I was capable of.
Every effort we made in every task we were given, was all so meaningful, and at the same time bonds were forming with each other and to the wildlife. We all grew more than we ever thought we would from this experience. Any trepidation or fear I may have had about joining Wildlife ACT disappeared on our very first monitoring session. I am in awe of the monitors and my fellow team members, and so very proud to have been a part of the work that is being done by Wildlife ACT in conservation, preservation and education of these gorgeous creatures that we cannot lose.
Brandie Wettstein (Cananda)
I wish I could find the words to say how much I loved coming to volunteer with wildlife ACT. It really was amazing. Our monitors Marumo and Jarryd were super informative and welcoming right from day one. I feel like I learned so much in my two weeks. I totally fell in love with the Wild Dogs. I never knew about this animal before and getting to know them really ignited a passion. The experience overall was indescribable. I definitely plan to come back in the future.
Anastasiya Shapovalova (United States)
My time with Wildlife ACT was meaningful, educational, fun, and unique. I felt that our monitors made every effort to make our experience fulfilling and fun. They ensured that our group was safe while having the best time possible, and checked in with each of us individually to ensure that our needs were met and that we were having a meaningful experience. I was impressed with the care demonstrated towards me and my friends by each of our monitors.
It is also clear that the monitors are very knowledgeable and passionate about the conservation work they do here. It is a separate skill-set, altogether, to look after and educate a group of 5 volunteers, who have little knowledge about life in the bush, and they each did this with a clear sense of care and genuine interest. I loved getting to know them both over the course of my two weeks.
Wildlife ACT was flexible with our delayed arrival time, which was really helpful, and allowed us time to stop by the market before heading into camp, which exceeded our expectations and helped all of us feel more at ease about ensuring our individual food-needs were met. I have never visited a research camp before and upon reading the information provided, I expected very basic accommodations, somewhat like camping. Without having any comparison to base my ranking on, I would say that I was pleasantly surprised to find a well-stocked, functioning kitchen, a washing machine for our laundry, blankets to use during chilly morning rides, and strong-enough cellphone reception to allow for daily email checks, which was really helpful for the volunteers in my group.
Byron Gronseth (United States)
Truly one of the greatest experiences of my life. Through the care, expertise and direction of our Wildlife ACT team, I learned so much about their conservation efforts, the precious creatures themselves, the challenges faced here in South Africa, and the passion and hard work it takes to research and actively protect the fragile ecosystem. Phenomenal staff, incredible opportunity and experience.
From Day 1 our contact was incredibly communicative, all our questions answered, and made it super easy to book, plan, and then just show up and go. I was blown away and often humbled with the opportunities we were given throughout our field experience. It felt like we did it all and had an active hand in the conservation and care of the priority species in our reserve.
It was obvious from the moment our team took us under their wing that these are some of the most passionate, knowledgeable and dedicated people that care deeply about this mission and the effort they expend is optimized for impact. Every day they are fighting to save these animals. It’s very inspiring the work they are doing.
Olivia Stubbington (United Kingdom)
August & September 2019
My volunteering experience was amazing. I learned and experienced so much while there and was even part of a lioness darting and re-collaring. My group was also the first ever to witness the three one-month-old Cheetah cubs belonging to a mother who’s GPS collar unfortunately no longer works. It was an unforgettable experience, and I hope to volunteer with the organisation again in the future! Just being able to be a part of something that’s actually conserving endangered species. What’s rewarding is spending a long rainy day tracking an animal and finally finding it and seeing that it is okay. Getting up so early in the morning is a challenge, but it’s worth it! For me personally, Wildlife ACT stood out among all the other volunteering organisations!
Chris Matteodo (United States)
I volunteered with Wildlife ACT in order to support their ongoing conservation efforts at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park after finding them through a number of travel website recommendations. Their primary species of focus, the African Wild Dog, holds a special place in my heart. It was the trip of a lifetime. If you’re interested in doing volunteer work abroad, working with animals, getting out of your comfort zone, truly experiencing other cultures, or taking some amazing photographs (yes they will be better than your food pictures) then this is the program for you. The booking process is simple and easy. They are there every step of the way to ensure you safely arrive at your destination, regardless of where you are coming from.
Jeff Carrier (United Kingdom)
For me, I probably never made a bigger decision – to give up all those comforts I had lived with for so many years. Why did I do it? Because I wanted to do something that could make a difference to the wild animals in South Africa. Driving along in search of the target species for that day, with the wind in your face and dodging leaves from overhanging trees, you will use an antenna and radio set to indicate the direction of where your chosen animal is located, eventually pin-pointing its position. And then the excitement begins… as you turn a corner and see the animal, whether it be a Lion, Lioness with cubs, or a Wild Dog resting after a hard night’s forage for food.
There is a feeling within you that you’ve never felt before, at the sight of these beautiful beasts in their natural habitat. It is indescribable and something that will stay with you forever. For me it has been an experience I will never forget. I have never woken up in the morning with such anticipation of what the day will bring and what sights I might see. In a small way I hope I am making a difference. And with my photos, I have immortalised some beautiful animals that are under threat.
Yannick Kuehn (Germany)
It was one of my best experiences, if not the best experience, I’ve ever had. I absolutely love the monitors and the scanning/work we did was exceptional. I have been able to learn about and see the animals up close. It has made me fall in love with Wild Dogs and I really appreciate the opportunity to have been here and to have done what I have. I wish everyone and everything well, especially the monitors. I appreciate each and every monitor/manager that I have met and have never seen people who are so welcoming and fun to be working together.
Boris Traverso (Argentina)
Life in the bush is the best. If you want to get really involved in nature and conservation, I think this would be the perfect first step for you. If you want to do something with wildlife, but you’re not 100% sure of what to do or where to begin, Wildlife ACT is a really good bet. It’s not about saving the world in 2 weeks or however long you’re going to spend there; it’s about being conscious of the reality of what’s going on in Africa and how you can change something or contribute to a worthy cause. I learned a lot during my time with Wildlife ACT and feel that I now have the tools to spread the word and keep the wheel turning. Africa needs you! And you will be very happy giving it a hand.
Arnaud Legrand (France)
I would qualify my overall experience at wildlife ACT as eye-opening, extremely enriching, and filled with incredible moments. Having already been on other conservation projects from different organizations, I must say that Wildlife ACT really puts into perspective what volunteering really is. Bronwen was lovely from start to finish during the booking process, the accommodation and the camp were really great and I loved spending time there.
As for the field work, it was certainly one of the most challenging things that I had to do as a volunteer, but it was incredibly enriching and it felt like we all had our part to play in everything that happened during the monitoring sessions. I properly felt that every session had its importance. We got to experience real, valuable conservation, understand the impact of everything that Wildlife ACT does on the reserve, and learn what is at stake here to protect wildlife species.
Kristen Pareti (United States)
April & May 2019
It was really something special. I will always remember and cherish my time spent in the bush and the moments I got to observe/share with the animals. I really enjoyed the time out in the field where different scenarios would happen in which I learned new things about the land or animals. Picking the brains of the staff was also intellectually satisfying as they know so much and are willing to share this knowledge. I also enjoyed the downtime in between sessions. The siesta life is the way to go! I met some really interesting people and was part of some great conversations. I am very happy with my time spent with Wildlife ACT.
Rahel Meier (Switzerland)
January - March 2019
Very fascinating and interesting. First I had to learn all about how Wildlife ACT is working, but afterwards I made so many great experiences out in nature but also with the other volunteers. For me as a volunteer, the accommodation was amazing! Tembe was simply wonderful and way much more comfortable than I was expecting it. We had more than we needed. The pre-arrival information was also really informative and useful.
Liam Hornstein (Spain)
February & March 2019
An amazing experience! I saw and experienced stuff completely different from a mere safari experience and it felt very fulfilling to get a sense of what wildlife conservation should be like. The field work made this experience amazing and it gives the volunteers a real experience as opposed to a very touristic experience, which is what happens in most wildlife conservation volunteering experiences.
Ella-Rose Wood (United Kingdom)
My experience was amazing. I enjoyed every moment of it. The people here are people to remember. I felt safe every step of the way and everything is well organised. It is an experience I will never forget! I learnt so much in the space of 2 weeks as everyone has such great knowledge and is very understandable. I felt very comfortable in everything that I did and everywhere that I went. I had such an experience and would love to come back! THANK YOU!!
Lillian Cummings (South Africa)
January & February 2019
I was lucky enough to spend a month with Wildlife ACT. My first 2 weeks were at uMkuze Game Reserve. The bush is so thick I was worried that I wasn’t going to see anything. That feeling of finding an animal by using telemetry and the receiver is amazing. I had a great bunch of people with me to share my experiences with. The days are long – early mornings and late nights, but it was well worth it. My 2nd placement was at Manyoni – a very different experience as they have many more animals and there are many open spaces but still hard work as wild animals work on their own system. Nothing is guaranteed with them.
I will definitely be back as I do feel like I made a difference. I met some wonderful people. My monitors were awesome so a shout out to Wihan, Megan, Dani & Travis who helped me have a great time. One thing that I will say to anyone that is hoping to take part in this experience is, make the most of it. You need to come with an open mind, be prepared for long days come rain or sun, and you will gain so much knowledge. I had the best time even when I had to have quick showers, too much toast with tomato & cheese, too much sun and many hours sitting on the back of a bakkie, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Anne-Marie Lestic (France)
Volunteering with Wildlife ACT was a childhood dream come true. I was there for 2 weeks and everything went so smoothly, from pre-booking the trip to actually getting to the reserve. The rhythm is intense, but we still had time to relax in the afternoons. The thing I liked most was being able to ask the monitors questions; they have such amazing knowledge about the animals and the environment. The work is diverse and we saw an average of two lions a day, which was a personal favourite. I am still in awe almost a year after my experience of how amazing this experience was. I highly recommend volunteering with Wildlife ACT, it will challenge your views and you will see and learn so much. Thank you Wildlife ACT team!
Deb Gooding (Canada)
I volunteered with Wildlife ACT for a month in September 2018 at iMfolozi Park and Tembe Elephant Park. Wildlife ACT delivers a real wildlife conservation experience. It’s a hands-on experience teaching ethical conservation practices. It’s an opportunity to work alongside elephant and lion experts, a chance to meet other volunteers from around the world, and have unforgettable wildlife sightings. Thank you for this truly remarkable experience.
Tolga Aktas (United Kingdom)
For a first time in South Africa, you best believe that Wildlife ACT goes out of their way to deliver and provide everything that they state in their project descriptions. It is by far Real Africa and Real Conservation from the moment you arrive at your project location. I am so grateful to the wonderful monitors at Somkhanda and Manyoni that made me fall in love with the bush and made me understand the true meaning of wildlife conservation. If you want to monitor and protect wildlife the correct way, then this is the project for you. I will be coming back!!!
Tina Stehr (Canada)
August & September 2018
My experiences with Wildlife ACT have been absolutely amazing and unforgettable – experiences that will stay with me forever. It was a childhood dream to be able to visit Africa and see the wildlife in its natural home, specifically elephants. Each time I visit South Africa, I leave a little piece of my heart behind. I can’t wait to return for my next experience volunteering with Wildlife ACT; I would go back tomorrow if I could!
With each project you get to be part of real conservation, learning from amazingly dedicated and knowledgeable wildlife monitors, being part of a small team of international volunteers that very quickly become your bush family and hopefully lifelong friends, and of course seeing the wildlife. There is nothing like having an African elephant walk directly down the road towards you, seeing a lion napping under a tree, and spotting an African Wild Dog pack. These are experiences that most people will never have.
Though sometimes you may not find the animals you are looking for, there is no shortage of things to see. There is amazing bird life, plants and trees, as well as other animals all around the reserves. You will quickly learn the difference between a nyala and an impala! There are a lot of photo opportunities as well as time to get to know your monitor and team better, and just being in South Africa and taking in the natural surroundings is enough.
While not all of the work is easy or pretty, you know that what you are doing is actually making a difference to the conservation and future of these animals and the reserves.
Judith Perino (United States)
June & July 2018
If you have a burning desire to be of service and play a small part in conservation efforts for the wildlife in Africa, then volunteering with Wildlife ACT is for you! I spent one month this year in two camps, Tembe and Hluhluwe, located in the Zululand. These two camps are in two distinctly different areas and terrain and greatly broadened my perspective of the work being undertaken to monitor and protect various priority species in different circumstances and habitats. The Wildlife ACT website offers very clear and complete descriptions on the volunteer experience – the activities, participation, camps, and the accommodations to be expected. So, really, the only surprises there will be, which can be absolutely amazing, are the encounters to be experienced in the bush while out on monitoring sessions, observing wildlife, recording data, and sometimes very up-close encounters with any number of species. Each and every day is a completely new experience!
Days can be long, but the rewards of this experience will last a lifetime. I have made new life-long friends that share my passion for conservation and deepened my love of Africa and my resolve to do whatever, in the small way that I can, to make a difference. Wildlife ACT affords a meaningful hands-on participation opportunity to do just that – make a difference! So, if protecting endangered species is important to you, look no further. Wildlife ACT is a wonderful organization run by committed and passionate conservationists, and will be a life-enriching experience for anyone of any age.
Ina Reinecke (Germany)
July & August 2018
Working in a small group you get to help the monitors in the reserves doing real field work – mainly scanning for animals with collars, trying to get a visual to make sure they are healthy, setting up and checking camera traps, data input to create maps with animal movements, helping with things that might be necessary like call-ups / habituation, collaring of animals, relocations and so on.
I’ll never forget one touching moment when one of the cheetahs (who was a problem animal) went up a tree in front of our vehicle, scent-marking and looking at us before coming down and passing us. Just incredible. We also had great sightings of animals we were not scanning for, like leopards, giraffes necking each other, spotted hyena a few times, side-striped jackal, vultures and so much more.
Our rooms were simple, but nice, and the camp not fenced, so we often had lots of animals around like nyalas, impalas, monkeys, baboons, big water monitors, beautiful birds, and once an elephant quite close. The highlight was a bush-baby family living in a tree beside the rooms. A lodge (with swimming pool) is not far away and we were allowed to go there and walk around or sit at a bird hide which I enjoyed a lot. We had bonfires & “braais” sometimes where we could chat to other researchers. Three of us did a two night trip to St. Lucia at the beginning of the 2nd week. The luxury tents, hippo and crocodile tour, night drive and restaurant food were awesome, but quite touristic, so I was happy to be back in the bush.
The only really sad thing is the snare/poaching problem in uMkhuze, that does exist in all parks, but not as extreme. But it shows how important volunteers can be, because without the money they pay for their stay, all the monitor work couldn’t be done. It was a great experience and I would do it again. My body did hurt sometimes, but my mind and heart found what they were looking for: pure African nature at its best and meaningful work. My cameras were very busy as well. All the footage will keep me busy for a while 🙂 Absolutely rewarding. Thank you to Wildlife ACT, the monitors and all the people I met!
Deborah High (United States)
I just returned home from another wonderful year volunteering with Wildlife ACT in South Africa, and my heart is bursting with love and fullness from the rich experiences I had with the animals, my fantastic wildlife monitors, and my team over the past few months. I have truly made friends for life in my South African home the past couple of years, so much so that I have already booked my six weeks for next year, and my 77 year old father is planning on joining me for a couple of weeks! As a fifty something year old, I can attest to the fact that this opportunity is for everyone who is adventurous, flexible and loves supporting the wildlife in Africa. Age becomes irrelevant among your team mates, as everyone has something unique and special to offer. It has been my experience the past few years that the groups I have been placed with mesh together and form very deep bonds during our time together! So, don’t be shy, come give Wildlife ACT a try! It will be one of the things you go home dreaming about, until you return the year after!
I would thoroughly recommend Wildlife ACT to anyone of any age who is considering volunteering in conservation. Many iconic species are threatened with extinction, and I was compelled to volunteer and make a small difference in helping to prevent this. Volunteering in South Africa on reserves in KwaZulu-Natal was an amazing experience – witnessing and taking part in REAL conservation with such dedicated people. I cannot speak highly enough of the monitors I assisted on uMkhuze Game reserve (Teegan and Megan) – two inspirational young women. Also meeting staff from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife who are on the front-line of conservation. It was my first trip to South Africa as a lone female, but right from point of booking I was well looked after, with details of places to stay before being met at St Richards Airport to be taken to the reserve. I saw amazing wildlife, took part in important conservation, and made amazing life-long friends. Thank you Wildlife ACT.
Tirza Moerman (Netherlands)
Feb to May 2018
From February until May 2018, I volunteered for wildlife ACT and would like to thank them for an amazing time. I really enjoyed helping to contribute to conserving the beautiful nature in KwaZulu-Natal. Moreover, I had the idea that wildlife ACT, besides doing a great job for nature there, tried to give the volunteers a fantastic time. I really enjoyed my stay and felt completely safe and I think everything was so well organised. After my three months with wildlife ACT, I did another volunteer project in Namibia. I told a lot of volunteers about wildlife ACT, so hopefully I made them enthusiastic for volunteering as well! Thanks for everything and all the best.
I have volunteered with Wildlife ACT twice before, and the second time was much more rewarding than the first. Like many other adventurers, my passion for going back to Africa was driven by my interest in photographing animals. I had a two-week window in which I could fit a volunteer session with Wildlife ACT and it was the best decision I made this summer. Every morning we went in search for either lion, wild dog, or the cheetahs, and every morning and afternoon there was something different to chase. The chase was difficult! Many days we rewarding as it showed us “tourists” that wildlife conservation is a tough job and that the work needs to be done in the field. Of course we were often rewarded with sightings of cheetah, lions, and a variety of animals we didn’t expect to see. We were also extremely lucky to have witnessed and participated with tagging and collaring one of the wild dogs; it was the highlight of the trip.
There isn’t enough that can be said about our conservation leaders – two women are dedicated and passionate individuals who did everything in their power to get sightings of animals. During the two weeks, we often drove late into the night, working long hours and were often rewarded with sightings. They educated us on the real struggles and rewards of conservation. They were true professionals during my time on uMkhuze. I would completely recommend anyone interested in the survival of wild animals in Africa to volunteer with Wildlife ACT. If you want a true authentic experience where you are pitching in, and getting your hands dirty, this is the trip you want to book. I think what I enjoyed the most about the trip was that I didn’t feel like I was a tourist being catered to, I felt like I had a job to do every day and that I had to pitch in. I loved being in the middle of the park, without the amenities of home; it was an excellent time to visit with other volunteers and reflect upon the morning or afternoon experiences. You will experience the ups and downs of conservation, understand the struggles against poaching and loss of habitat, work with knowledgeable and passionate people, and you’ll see and encounter wild experiences that you will take with you for a lifetime. I would not visit the continent of Africa again, without volunteering with Wildlife ACT!
Wildlife ACT is amazing!!! Volunteering in South Africa with this program was definitely one of the best choices I’ve made in my undergraduate career, and I am truly grateful for having chosen such a phenomenal program that carries out real conservation. As an intern I learned so much about conservation and made many amazing contacts that I’m sure will be useful to me in the future. The people and monitors were such a pleasure to work with, and the experiences, landscapes, and wildlife were awe-inspiring. This was also my very first time in Africa in general, so gaining such a positive first impression was wonderful too. Thank you so much as well for such a smooth booking process; it was all very stress-free from the start!
Florence Feynerol (France)
I participated as a volunteer monitoring animals at Tembe and iMfolozi. These experiences have been very meaningful to me and I hope I made a contribution. All I want is to come back to improve and help more. Some volunteers are amazing and real experts in telemetry. As for me, I realised that I could spend hours waiting under the burning sun, to see through binoculars if a Cheetah had stopped napping and had decided to make a move. You learn patience. You learn to put yourself aside for the mission. You feel so small compared to the beauty, frailty and greatness and truth of the wildlife. You feel it in your gut and heart, and in helping, you become greater than what you are. As a volunteer, you share the monitors workload. Monitors who are young, multitaskers and very responsible. It is a privilege to be with such beautiful people, in such beautiful places. For me, it would have been a mistake not to be in the field with Wildlife ACT.
Erick Gonzalez Rodriguez (Mexico)
An absolutely enriching experience. It is not only about helping on-site and enjoying watching animals, it is about getting involved in this real problem of conserving endangered animals; about contributing to preserve their habitat; about learning with experts what the major issues facing conservation are and why. And probably a factor of utmost importance: about spreading the word and raising awareness. Species are disappearing from their habitats because of human activity. Although there are many ways of contributing to wildlife conservation, it has been exciting working with Wildlife ACT and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife – two of the organisations tackling the many problems facing the threatened and endangered species of South Africa.
Being in the field monitoring various priority species daily, we are exposed to mind-blowing wildlife experiences. The contribution of a volunteer may appear small at first glance, however, overall this contribution adds up day-by-day, with the monitoring team providing invaluable information to help maintain the equilibrium of the whole ecosystem. This includes endangered and non-endangered species, their habitat, and ultimately protecting them from the threat of extinction.
Bram van Schaffelaar (Netherlands)
February and March 2018
I had an absolute amazing experience with Wildlife ACT. The way the projects are organized is very personal and efficient. I got to see four different reserves in Zululand: absolutely the most stunning, natural region in South Africa I have ever visited. The contribution you make with the small groups together with the professional and enthusiastic monitors, feels very important. You will help Wildlife ACT with everything that’s most urgent and they will teach you a lot about nature and everything that matters for wildlife conservation. This unique exchange of work and knowledge is of great importance to gain attention on wildlife conservation. Personally, the best thing about Wildlife ACT is that the results of what they are doing are purely for the benefit of African wildlife; nothing more, nothing less.
My two weeks at iMfolozi was, without question, the most incredible experience of my life. Having always had a passion for wildlife and conservation, the monitors and the landscapes here have been inspiring and unmatched. Since the day of my arrival, my excitement and willingness to learn only grew with each session and interaction. My passion has only increased and my only wish is to continue to grow in my knowledge and understanding of African wildlife conservation.
William Esbjug Gromstad (Norway)
Possibly the best experience of my life. I learned so much, and it was something that will benefit my studies in biology. Fi and Ryan are honestly two of the most inspiring and extraordinary individuals I have ever met. Just being with them for two weeks, has been a revelation. Seeing that there actually are other people with as much passion for wildlife as me, has given me new faith in the future of our planet. They deserve all the credit in the world.
I had a great experience. Marumo and Mike were very welcoming and fun to be with. They taught a great deal about conservation and the animals over the two weeks which made the trip very educational and insightful. The accommodation was better than expected. It was very sociable and I really enjoyed having a chance to speak to the other researchers. Really enjoyed the Braais too!
Andrea Miller (Germany) ~ August 2017
We’ve had some wonderful times working with Wildlife ACT. If anyone wants to do some conservation work then this is definitely the best organisation to choose. You just have to keep going back for more, but then that’s how Africa gets to you – especially those Wild Dogs (Painted Dogs) of uMkhuze. Thanks Wildlife ACT for having us!
Ann Wheeler (New York)
Wildlife ACT is a phenomenal organization. When I volunteered with them in 2014, I didn’t realize how much it was about to change my life. I was freshly employed at a credit union, in what is widely accepted as a good, stable job. I spent two amazing weeks in the bush at the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi reserve, which ignited my soul and reminded me what my true passion in life was. I was able to be a part of rhino lifts (look it up; it’s relocating rhinos by helicopter!!!), tracking and monitoring wild dogs, elephants, and lions, and really getting a chance to see what real, no-frills conservation is all about.
My true passion may have still been buried under the cover of a desk job if I didn’t get the great opportunity of working with the amazing people at Wildlife ACT. If anyone is ever looking for a great volunteer opportunity with a legitimate conservation organization, I would recommend them without hesitation. The work that they do isn’t just for you to have a fun experience, it’s to truly conserve wildlife through research and education.
Anastasia Ellis (United Kingdom) ~ July 2017
Being a Wildlife ACT Volunteer in Africa at the uMkhuze reserve was one of the most special trips of my life. The richness of the experience is difficult to compare to anything, and if you’re a nature and animal lover, it is something you’ll do and then ask yourself “how have I not done this before??”. We were so lucky to have our wonderful monitors PJ, Ben and gorgeous Kelsey who has moved on to another reserve now. Be camera and bino ready, be ready to be up and head out at 4am, and be ready to have your mind blown by Africa.
Daniel Wood ~ June 2017
I spent just 2 weeks with Wildlife ACT at Tembe Elephant Park and loved every minute of it! We saw an amazing variety of wildlife, including the tusker elephants, the resident wild dog pack and lots of lions.
As a frequent traveller and former volunteer coordinator for another organisation, I was really impressed with Wildlife ACT. One of the things that initially drew me to Wildlife ACT was how informative and up front they were on their website – rare indeed. Lots of information offered and they really care about the cause. It’s genuinely rare to find an organisation which ticks all these boxes, and still have a lot of fun while you’re out there! Accommodation and facilities were also way better than expected.
It was great to be able to contribute to the research and conservation effort too, rather than just being a tourist (this isn’t an ecotourism vanity project). Volunteers help in all sorts of ways – providing vital funding through the donation, helping create ID kits, locating collared animals using radio telemetry, setting up camera traps and much more. If you’re really lucky as I was, you might get to participate in call-ups or relocations of key species, which is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
They have a fantastic research team as well as great working relationships with other park and support staff. There’s also excellent support before you get there from Bronwen et al. who will answer any question you have, but honestly almost everything is provided up front in the volunteer information.
Every day is a new experience. You never quite know what you’ll do or what you’ll see, and Tembe is a stunning backdrop to your day. My stay was all too brief but amazing nonetheless… I have already recommended Wildlife ACT to friends and I’d love to go back one day!
Ashley Gonder (Washington) ~ May 2017
When I originally decided to volunteer in South Africa I was a little apprehensive because I was going to a foreign country all by myself. Once I found Wildlife ACT the process from beginning to end was incredibly smooth. The million different questions were all answered super quick and with a lot of detail. The booking process was smooth and easy. Brownen was amazing to work with!
Once I initially got there the staff was waiting at the airport with friendly faces. They were very organized and we were on the way to our respective reserves in no time.
I spent my time at Manyoni and the monitors are INCREDIBLE! I can’t say enough good things about them both. Meg and Frede are both so knowledgeable, friendly, and fun to be around. We got in a couple of scary situations with a herd of elephants surrounding us and Meg was calm and collected and instructed us what to do so nobody got hurt. The monitors made this entire experience as amazing as it was.
I’ve always had a love for animals and when I found this organization I immediately knew that I wanted to be a part of it. I learned so much about the animals, Africa, and most importantly, MYSELF while being with Wildlife ACT. The days are long but it doesn’t feel that way. Getting up every morning before the sun is so exciting because you literally have no idea what you might see or be doing. I felt like I was actually helping make a difference out there. I never realized how much monitoring animals can really help. The whole ecosystem is in such a fragile balance and it was so fascinating learning about how everything works together and balances itself out. I really feel like I made a difference out there.
I plan on returning next year! This was the best two weeks of my life and I wish I could’ve stayed longer.
Miroslav Goranov (Netherlands) ~ March & April 2017
It has taken me 22 years to realize my goal to come to South Africa and stand face to face with my dreams to one day be among the best Wildlife Photographers.
My eternal love for Photography, animals and nature led me to Wildlife ACT, which turned out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life. I had a breath-taking 6 weeks of volunteering and words can’t explain how much I have grown during this time.
The most important thing of all was understanding conservation and discerning that I was actually a part of something big that came with a lot of responsibility. We’ve all heard about conservation and fake organisations that pretend to do something about it, where volunteers come to pet lions, right? Well, this is not the case. As Wildlife ACT has cleverly put it – ”This is Zululand, not Disneyland.”
For me, I’d say it was more of a Dreamland. Waking up every morning early on, sure. Who needs sleep anyway? When there are animals out there to be saved. When they are being snared, killed and trapped on a daily basis. When the clock is ticking. When their numbers are decreasing.
Once you set your first step inside the camp you already know, this is the real deal. Every day is an event and every second is an experience. The unpredictability of nature overall adds up to that in such a beautiful way. It felt like home. If home is not a place, but a feeling, then this was it for me.
In six weeks, apart from tracking and monitoring animals on a daily basis, I watched helicopters come down to save an elephant from dying. I watched the glowing eyes of local communities as they were being educated why the Wild Dogs are of such importance to our existence. I watched rhinos being dehorned as they were finally free of the threat to be poached, as the last means of conservation to save these amazing creatures from extinction.
And right in this moment I knew – South Africa is waiting for me, because if not us, nobody will save our planet’s wildlife. It is up to you. And if it is, Wildlife ACT is the right place to be!
Sophie Vickers (United Kingdom) ~ Jan & Feb 2017
After doing many conservation projects in South Africa, Wildlife ACT has been my favourite. If you are thinking of booking, my advice: BOOK! Bronwen was amazing with the booking and all the details. Big shout out and thank you to Megan and Frede at ZRR. Their knowledge of the animals and the reserve is next to none. Whether you are travelling with friends or alone, your group will become family in a short time. Early mornings, more rain than imaginable, sunshine, mountains, you name it, it’s there and so SO much fun. They are making a difference with conservation, the variation of wildlife is awesome. Keep up the fantastic work and see you soon guys!
Jonas Heck (Germany) ~ Sept – Nov 2016
I was a volunteer for two months between September and November 2016 and I enjoyed every single day. It was definitely the best experience of my life. I met such nice people and learned a lot about conservation work. And, of course, all the animals that I have seen were so cool. To see especially wild dogs in the wild is something so special. I’m glad that I was part of the team and would love to come back one day. Greetings from Germany to the whole WACT team!
Morgan Taylor & Rob van der Horst ~ Oct – Dec 2016
The past three months with Wildlife ACT in Zululand have been freaking insane. The 3am wake-ups and wrapping up our days by 7.30pm has been tough. Freezing mornings, scorching heat – 7 days a week. But it has been so so worth it. We’ve monitored and tracked some of South Africa’s most threatened species. We’ve been involved in collaring four cheetah for monitoring, a rhino darting for relocation, two lion darts for relocation, one dog dart for collaring and monitoring, and five wild dog darts for translocation. We’ve spent time with 146 individual African Wild Dogs – over 1/4 of the population in South Africa. It has been an incredible opportunity to be involved in conservation in a greater sense. We have learned so much about wildlife, the threats against them and what we can do to help. We’ve experienced and witnessed first-hand the devastation of poaching and snaring. It has been an incredibly humbling journey for both of us. We’re eternally grateful to our wonderful monitors for everything. South Africa – it’s been real.
Tamara Mercer Medsker ~ August 2016
If you had told me two months ago I would PAY to get up before dawn, ride on bumpy roads in the back of an open truck in 50 degree weather, struggle through a water shortage, marinade in bug spray to avoid mozzi bites, drag dead aromatic carcasses around (all in the name of conservation), and live without TV, music, and a lot of times, Internet, I would have called you crazy! If you asked me if I was ready to go back today – I would ask how soon could I leave?!
Wildlife ACT is simply phenomenal. From emailing before my departure, to organizing every transport Monday, answering all my questions and providing a truly ethical conservation experience – they by far exceeded all my expectations. Long mornings, short mid-day breaks, and long evenings were never boring and worth every moment. At times it was heart-breaking, other times amusing, but at all times an experience I will never regret or forget. The accommodations are simple and adequate. Trust me, exhausting days make the beds FEEL like heaven! The food is more than enough and I lost 5lbs I believe because of the very lean venison we ate daily! The training is hands-on and all the monitors are patient and helpful. The days are long, BUT I can honestly say my four weeks was not long enough. If a safari is on your bucket-list, and you don’t need 5 star accommodations, take your experience further by being part of a global concern – endangered species conservation. Join Wildlife ACT for an adventure of a lifetime!
Sophie James ~ August 2016
If you are thinking of booking, do it… you will not regret it! I can’t thank the team at Wildlife ACT enough. They conducted themselves extremely professionally yet they made you feel very comfortable, at home, and up-most part of their team! Bronwen has amazing organizational skills and will try to meet all your requirements! I will not lie – it is hard work; as they say, it’s Zululand not Disneyland. There are very early mornings, late lunches and late evenings, but when you see the animals healthy day-to-day and help them when they are most in need, I can promise it’s the most rewarding thing! You’ll come home with a different perspective on life. If you are looking to be part of REAL conservation, then this is the project for you! I searched high and low to find a reputable project and was so glad I came across this one! I credit all of you at Wildlife ACT for the work you do day in, day out! Thanks again!!!
Suna Huls ~ July 2016
It was the best and most amazing experience I ever had! The monitors are amazing, the work that we do is so much fun and important, and Africa is amazing itself. Everything is taken care of and the camps are just perfect (basic the way it should be). I will definitely visit wildlife ACT again!
Mirjam van Driel ~ June 2016
I hereby want to thank Wildlife ACT for the amazing time I had while volunteering in ZRR and Tembe. It was an absolutely amazing experience I will never forget. All the staff members I met were just great. All very dedicated, passionate, professional and friendly! They all involved us closely in whatever needed to be done and I never got the feeling we were “just volunteers”. It really was a hands-on experience and I have learned so much! I loved every second of it. I am definitely coming back!
Robin Shepard ~ February 2013
I did over 80 hours of research on the internet, trying to find a reputable organization with which I could learn, experience, and participate in real conservation. The down-and-dirty kind, protecting vulnerable species, not the fake baby-animal-petting or vacationing-by-a-pool-and-going-for-photo-safari-drives kind. I wanted to support a group of people who were not getting rich off of “volunteers” digging holes, and then the next group filling them back up (this really happens at some “volunteer” camps, where they are creating “work” for volunteers to do.) I also didn’t want to support groups that breed big cats under the guise of releasing them into the wild, but allowing volunteers to feed and pet them as babies, as this renders them unfit for wild release and is unethical. I wanted a group that works hard, down to their last dime, trying to ethically protect and conserve critically endangered species… and I found just that.
Tacit Mysterium ~ April 2016
Just wanted to say Thank You to all the Wildlife ACT team. I volunteered with you guys for 4 weeks (wasn’t long enough if you ask me). It was the best time of my life. Was even better then I could dream. I advise any potential volunteer looking at this page to GO AND DO IT!!! Would happily recommend this company to any interested in it. Thanks again guys 🙂
Nina Regel ~ March 2016
I really enjoyed my time volunteering and couldn’t have asked for more. It was awesome to be involved hands-on in everything and whatever needed to be done. Every time on the road was an amazing experience and the monitors are such great guys and have an awesome knowledge of the African bush. It was interesting to see how the management involved Wildlife ACT and even us volunteers never felt left out. I never felt unsafe at any time, even with a lion growling at us 🙂 It has been a lifetime experience and I will never forget it. There was nothing I would like to change about my 4 weeks with WACT!
Mario Zamora Giralda ~ July 2015
My experience with Wildlife ACT was the best experience of my life. I had been in many countries and I did many things in my life, but many thanks to give us the chance to be Involved in a project like this and become aware with the efforts of your work to conserve endangered species.
Alisara Christensen ~ August 2015
Inspiring. I was able to learn more about the pressing issues regarding wildlife and conservation in Africa. Being here at the reserve allowed me to be surrounded by the very devoted and passionate monitors and volunteers who have come here individually to help achieve a common goal. Each day I learnt more about the animals’ behaviors, the challenges we face to help them, and surprisingly, more about myself. This experience was not only inspiring but also very authentic. The trip very much reflects WACT’s motto “Real Africa, Real Conservation.”
Stephanie DeMay – May / June 2015
Concluding Africa thoughts and lessons:
1. I really loved seeing every sunrise and every sunset. They are such special moments that I’m usually asleep or inside for. I resolve to put more sunrises and sunsets into my “normal” life. Join me?
2. Sometimes it was our job to just sit. And wait. Sometimes for 1-2 hours just observing the same animals. Sometimes for several hours with absolutely nothing going on. I think some of the girls in my last group were often bored out of their minds. But really, how nice is it to just sit? Sit and listen to the birds. Sit and watch the stars come out. There is always so much going on!
3. These Wildlife ACT people are warriors. They work just crazy hours, 30 days on/10 days off, with a constant rotation of new volunteers every two weeks. If the people suck, they are stuck in close quarters with them with no relief for 2 weeks. If the people are awesome, 2 weeks is way too short before it’s time to say goodbye. I’m used to working ridiculous hours in the field, lab, and office as a grad student slave, but as I go forward into a real conservation career as a real grown-up, I will remember the commitment and sacrifices of these people and let that push me on to be a warrior and not an entitled whiner.
4. I love knowing what things are called. I was able to pick up South African birds and trees really quickly and it was really fun to learn about the bush. It’s too bad all that knowledge is now useless. I want to be better at my birds and trees and flowers here. I have all the field guides. I wish I had a guide though to go walk with me and tell me stories about things- that’s how I’ll learn it best. I’ll just have to try my best on my own. Knowing what things are makes outdoor experiences so much richer.
My heart is full. It’s sad to be back in the real world, but I’m super thankful for the experience and memories and people I’ve met. This was the best thing I’ve done in my whole life.
Julia Herold – Germany
After volunteering with Wildlife ACT in 2009, I was able to join their team as a long-term volunteer for half a year in 2013.
There was no way I was gonna let such an amazing opportunity slide, so I put my medical studies on hold for a semester and – as expected – had the time of my life!
Wildlife ACT are a conservation group focused on Wild Dogs, Rhino and Cheetah.
They provide monitoring services to game reserves around KwaZulu Natal that don’t have the necessary resources and expertise to do so on their own and offer volunteers the chance to work alongside their monitors and take part in all aspects of the conservation work they around the reserve.
It was a fantastic experience, and there wasn’t a dull moment during the daily tracking of Wild Dogs, checking camera traps, monitoring Rhino and all the great wildlife sightings in between.
I spent time at all of their project sites, including Tembe National Park, Mkuze and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve.
Joining an organisation like Wildlife ACT, to me, is the best way to go on safari. Research vehicles are allowed into areas of the reserves that you’d never get to see as a normal tourist and the knowledge of the monitors far surpasses that of most guides.
And obviously I wouldn’t have had the chance to assist in several Wild Dog relocation’s, fitting collars on Wild Dogs, Cheetah and Lions and be part of a massive Buffalo Tb-testing operation!
The insight you get into the inner workings of conservation, as well as anti-poaching efforts and research is what would make me go for a volunteering trip instead of a normal safari every time!
It’s definitely not a luxury holiday and their saying “this is Zululand, not Disneyland” certainly fits – the camps are basic, kitchen duty is shared and the day starts ridiculously early – but to me, that’s the best way to experience the African bush.
It is Zululand after all, not Disneyland, and that way there’s no chance of confusing the two 🙂
Also, a set up like this almost guarantees you a set of like-minded travelers as your camp mates, and to me, the company in which you spent your time is so much more important than where you sleep at night!
I met so many wonderful people from all over the world and will remember some of the discussions we had and the experiences we had together.
And when you’re sitting around a fire which a great bunch of people after a nice braai, listening to the lions roaring around camp, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re sitting on fancy leather seats in a 5* lodge or on self-made chairs from wooden crates!
All in all, putting my „regular“ life on hold in order to spent this time in Africa was the best decision I ever made, and I can’t wait to go back.
The Wildlife ACT team really are a fantastic bunch, welcome everyone into their team with open arms and gladly share their passion for the African bush and its incredible wildlife.
“Thanks for your great work once again, I love the way you are all so professional in what you do. I’m so happy with the experience, learning and rapport Jaquelina was met with. We set out to have a taste of what being a Conservation monitor comprised of, and discovered that its exactly what Jaquelina wants to do as a profession; so, all time and investment was only a part of the necessary things to the outcome. We thank you for that.
I want you to know that we talk about Wildlife ACT every chance we have, and hope to be able to send you many young people that want to experience what Wildlife has to offer.”
Jaquelina Alves-Ferreira – Aus, March 2015
“I don’t want to leave Africa! I will definitely be back with Wildlife ACT. All of the monitors I have been with have been absolutely brilliant at their jobs and amazing people. After speaking to Axel, Pippa, Lisa, Graeme and Philip I’ve decided to apply for a course in field guiding with Bhejane when I get home, so then when I am qualified hopefully I’ll be able to work somewhere in South Africa. It’s too beautiful here!”
Samantha Lostrom – November 2014
My name is Sam Lostrom. I have just completed 6 weeks volunteering with Wildlife ACT and just wanted to say I cannot thank you enough for the amazing experiences I had.
I was so pleased to find how dedicated all the monitors were to conservation, how beneficial the projects were to the reserves and how hands on and educating the volunteering was. This volunteering has given me direction as an ecologist and allowed me to learn how to monitor species in terms of telemetry, camera trapping and searching without collars and creating ID kits (e.g. tracking). In addition monitors were always willing to teach us how to appreciate what we saw around us by helping us ID birds, telling us about the history of the reserve and the ecology of the area.
Besides all the education I received, I can confidently say that I experienced the most magnificent things of my life while with Wildlife ACT. I have always been passionate about animals and seeing the antelope, wild dogs, rhinos, big cats and elephants in such a natural way was breath-taking. Every day I was in awe of where I was and what I was doing, I was so motivated and happy to be there and am inspired to go on and start my own career in conservation.
I cannot thank you enough for not only educating volunteers like me, but for giving us experiences we will never forget. I wish you all nothing but the best for the years ahead. I know such an honest and dedicated organisiation like you will go far and only extend the fantastic research and conservation you are completing. I’ll be recommending you to my zoology friends if they ever decide to travel, and please don’t hesitate to notify me about any fundraising or awareness that needs to be raised.
Claire Whitbread – October 2014
“We did not know quite what to expect prior to our visit but found the project to go way beyond anything we had in mind. We are all so very grateful and humbled by being involved in such a wonderful project.”
George Kelly – UK, Sept 2014
A wonderful chance to get inside nature conservation in Africa and great fun being on the ‘front line’.
Deborah Tighe – September 2014
“I’ve had an absolutely brilliant month volunteering with Wildlife ACT in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa!
The projects give an excellent intro into conservation issues over there, and certainly changed some of the views that I’d held through ignorance for a long time.
Thanks to Clinton for being so passionate and informative about Lions, whilst always drawing our attention to a myriad of other creatures ,critters and plants, that are so very important in themselves, and to each other. You manage to be professional ,laid back and an excellent ‘people’ person, with such ease!
Thank-you Leonard (Ezemvelo) for imparting your knowledge about Tembe Elephant so well. I wish we could have had more time! And thanks also for being able to reverse 3km in sand, at top speed…. Oh and then there’s that dessert………..
Thank-you Craig for being both informative and fun, as well as an excellent host, and all that despite the wisdom teeth removal! Watching the vulture being tagged and camera backpack fitted was awesome! I wish you the very best.
Thank-you Megan for being so caring and passionate about African Painted Dogs I wasn’t fortunate enough to see a pack in the wild till my last few days, and your enthusiasm made the 2 sightings great!
Thanks Marumo for coming back and being such good fun, I’m sorry that I couldn’t know you for longer. Many many Thanks also to Bronwen, and Rebecca, for all their help and Taryn for everything including the braai!
I’m missing the noises of the bush at night terribly already!”
Angharad Lewis – UK, July 2014
“Many thanks to you and all the monitors that helped Angharad to have such and awesome experience. She is telling everyone it’s the best thing she has ever done in her life and intends to come back. It has also shown her that she has some photographic talent which has boosted her confidence for college in September.
I can’t thank you guys enough. Hope to come back soon.
Kith Presland – May 2014
I’d like to tell you I had an amazing time at Mkhuze and learned a lot about the hard conservation work the Wildlife ACT monitors and others do. It’s wonderful.
I love the Wild Dogs more than ever. I saw so much of them and they are really entertaining! That pack is so lucky to have someone like Cole to look after them.
Thank you, Bronwen, for placing me at the beautiful Mkhuze Reserve.
Maria Gomez – August 2013
How was your overall experience with Wildlife ACT?
This is my last reserve, I’m so sad! My overall experience has been amazing, it was all I ever wanted, learning all the importance of taking care not only environmentally speaking, but also the attitude you have with all the people that work with you. I feel really blessed for having this opportunity, be a part of a conservation project which is working really good!!
Did you feel you made a contribution to conservation through our monitoring programme?
Yes I have. Being able to monitor wild dogs (which have become one of my favourite wild animals now) has been amazing, the way all monitors take care of them and show their worries and passion for their job it’s absolutely wonderful, having the chance to work with them and spread all of this feelings to us is what makes it even more beautiful.
Was there something you did not like?
I think in overall I liked everything about this company and how does it work. Although, people (other volunteers) make a lot of difference and in this reserve I was unfortunate to be with some people that didn’t feel interested at all about the project and moaned every chance they had, that is really frustrating because it makes it a little bit difficult to enjoy it.
What was the highlight of your time with us?
I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been in this reserve! I’ve been in 2 black rhino captures by airlifting, 1 lion call up and 1 wild dog collaring. Amazing!!
Emma Clifford – UK, October 2013
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Being part of an operation where black rhinos are bring relocated to another
reserve to try and breed them! But also the sights, smells and feeling of
the bush were all amazing and different each day.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Don’t expect luxury! It’s very basic but it’s such great fun, there’s
everything you need for a great experience.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced
environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Definitely! Even though some of it is hard work (3am starts!) I really felt
like I had helped in some way. The monitors are fantastic, I learnt so much.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
Amazing!! Words cannot describe this adventure- over 1500 photos taken and a
I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Luka Atkinson – UK
If I hadn’t already booked my flight home I don’t think they could have made me leave. I met some really fantastic people, all of whom I was genuinely upset to say goodbye to. I learned a whole range of new skills like how to track using radio telemetry and also learned the basics of Zulu. I really felt as if I was part of a team and truly felt at home at both Thanda and Mkhuze reserves. At the moment my main priority in life is getting myself back to South Africa. Even though there were so many highlights in the field, some of my favourite times were just sitting around at camp having a braai with the people I met while I was in South Africa, even when the braai was interrupted by a bull elephant in our backyard.
Mel Parry – UK, July 2009
My overall experience with Wildlife ACT was amazing, I enjoyed every minute of it whilst also gaining so many new skills and knowledge of African wildlife that will be useful tome for my course at university and in the future. From start to finish the experience was made trouble-free by the Wildlife ACT team. I would definitely recommend this organisation to other potential volunteers as a worthwhile programme.
Peter Holland – UK, Aug 2009
My overall experience with Wildlife ACT was amazing! a great hands on experience and also a great confidence booster. Wildlife ACT allowed me to see a side of conservation that one can not get from being a tourist in South Africa. The knowledge given by the management/field team was very valuable and again agreat insight into conservation. I can honestly say everything was a highlight, but seeing the Rhino capture was very special.
Julia Herold – Germany, Aug 2009
I had “the experience of a lifetime” I really enjoyed my stay in Mkuze as well as in Thanda and can’t wait to do it again. It was great to stay at two different camps and experience the differences between a private game reserve and a government run one. I definitely learned a lot about the differences, advantages and disadvantages of both kinds of management. Also, it gave me the opportunity to work with different people and see different environments. I really can’t choose a highlight! The leopard capture was definitely an awesome experience, as well as the hyena. To see the Wild dog pack hunt and kill was amazing. Tracking and finding the cheetahs might seem like a boring routine in comparison, but I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a single sighting – it’s always different and always an great feeling to finally spot them. Last but not least, the amputating of Impala heads and legs with a pocket knife is something I won’t ever forget 😉
Kat Donegan – USA, Sept 2009
I’m finding it very hard to try and sum up my overall experience as I took so much away from the trip with Wildlife ACT, so it’s very hard to sum it up! I absolutely loved my trip to South Africa and I’m very glad I decided to gowith Wildlife ACT, as I experienced things I believe I would not have encountered if I’d chosen another company. To be able to have the hands on and close up experiences was truly life changing and it has made me re-think my future, as I was planning on working within a zoo environment, but now I would relish the opportunity to do research in the wild, especially in South Africa. One of my favourite moments was seeing the lion cubs and wild dog pups so closely was absolutely unforgettable. Also, meeting an array of different people who work for Thanda and Wildlife ACT, and feeling part of the team so quickly, as everyone was very welcoming.
Steph Ronson – UK, Oct 2009
“I loved every minute of it and wish I could be back now. The monitors passed on so much information to us while driving through the bush. My highlight was seeing the wild dog pups for the first time after looking for them for just over two weeks. Also helping to ID them by looking through photos taken of each of the pups. Through Wildlife ACT, I didn’t just feel like a tourist, by completing daily tasks I felt I was contributing to the programme.”
Emma Ivinson, 18 yrs, UK, Aug 2010
“The time I spent with the Wildlife ACT team was one of the most memorable and incredible experiences of my life. I had always dreamed of going to Africa to work on a game reserve and this is the real deal! Their motto, ‘Real Africa, Real Conservation’ absolutely sums up their project. As a volunteer you are put to good use and help with the vital conservation work the team are doing. I learned how to use the radio tracking equipment that is used to locate animals such as the African Wild Dog packs, Cheetahs and, on a night trip, Hyenas, and along with another volunteer, I picked out photos that would be used to identify the Rhinos and Elephants we saw in the future. You see some of the most amazing animals on our planet and know that you are genuinely helping to conserve them. One of the most unforgettable moments I had was watching two adult bull Elephants washing and playing in a water hole. Watching how the older Elephant interacted with the younger male was incredible and at one point the older Elephant came within 10 metres of our vehicle!
I would recommend using the facility of being picked up from the airport. This is how most volunteers get to the meeting point before meeting who they’ll be working with and going on to the game reserve where they’ll be staying. If you are thinking about going, I would say go for it! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you should not miss! I will never forget my time in Africa, and I am planning on returning for part of my gap year… I cannot wait!!”
Kristi & Philip Schulp, New Zealand, Dec 2010
“My husband and I volunteered for two weeks on the Thanda Reserve as part of our honeymoon, and wow, what a great two weeks. Thanda is a beautiful private reserve with a great variety of scenery including hills, plains, watering holes, trees, and bushland, and we got to know it pretty well while canvassing for animals in the back of the truck.
One surprise we found was that “getting up with the sun” happens a lot earlier in Zululand than it does back home…3:00 or 3:30am. We got used to that pretty quickly and were always eager to start the day with the telemetry equipment in search of wild dogs, black and white rhino, cheetah, lion, elephant, leopard, and more. Many, like giraffe and warthogs, we saw as they sauntered or ran through our camp. Pretty exciting. Our job was to find the animals and track where they were and what they were doing. It was particularly exciting to find and watch the pack of wild dogs; many of which were born earlier that year.
Our highlight was really learning about wildlife management from experienced, passionate conservationists and seeing what happens day-to-day to manage the land and animal resources in the area. For example we spent nearly three days locating a white rhino (who knew such a large animal could be so hard to find and keep in front of you!), helping the vet and other staff to get her on her feet after being darted and “walk” her into a huge moving van so she could be relocated to another reserve where breeding would be more successful for her. There isn’t more hands-on work than actually touching a beautiful animal like that.
The days volunteering were long, some eleven hours, and it was purely magical every day to locate the animals, learn about their day-to-day activities, spend all day outside in a beautiful area, and to be with such great staff. My husband and I highly, highly recommend volunteering with Wildlife ACT and to be part of their efforts to protect such amazing animals.”
Lance van de Vyver, 21 yrs, New Zealand, Dec 2010
“I was lucky enough to work in all four reserves and had an absolutely amazing month in the bush. The highlights were coming face to face with lions, elephant and rhino, plus getting to be involved in a black rhino release program was amazing. Anyone who loves the bush, loves conservation or just wants the best hands-on safari available should definitely join Wildlife ACT…. you will not regret it!”
Suzanne Heath – UK, Jan 2011
“Just to say a huge thanks to the team at Wildlife ACT. I had a great 2 weeks volunteering. I was lucky enough to end up at Tembe where I was involved with the release of the 14 wild dogs. It was such an emotional time and what an honour to be involved with them in the last few days of their captivity and then to be only a few meters away from them in their first few hours of freedom – to see their first footsteps in the wild, to see their first feed beyond the boundaries of the boma and then to track them with their radio collars over the next few days trying to make sure we knew where they were and that they were hunting on their own and staying out of trouble. Amazing!
Cilla was our monitor while we were there and she was a legend! Hugely enthusiastic and knowledgeable and such a passion for those 14 dogs. It was a great experience. Thanks to everyone!”
Linda Cockburn, UK, Jan 2010 & Jan 2011
“I have taken part in programmes with Wildlife ACT on two reserves – Thanda and Mkhuze – and hope to return to one of the other reserves at some point. This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone interested in South African wildlife to get involved in useful research and conservation and to see an amazing variety of creatures up close. We were tracking mainly wild dog and cheetah and I will never forget looking into the eyes of those beautiful cats from just a few metres away, as well as spending almost two hours watching two cheetah brothers devour an impala. How often do you get the chance to do that? It also gives you the opportunity to meet other people with similar interests. I have such wonderful memories of the sights and sounds of the bush and can’t wait to get back there as soon as I can.”
Gale Smith, 54 yrs, US, Feb-March 2011
“I guess the best review I can post is that I’m planning to go back to work with Wildlife ACT in early 2012. Last April I wanted to travel to Africa, but could not find anyone who wanted the same type of experience I did. I am 54 yrs old, from the US and decided to go alone! Wildlife ACT was perfect. Even when I encountered flight problems, they knew where I was and were there to make sure I got to the reserve. I never felt alone.
I spent two weeks at Thanda reserve (1 of 4 reserves where Wildlife ACT is based). Our main focus for the time was tracking the newly re-released Wild African Dog pack. The knowledge, passion and skills of the staff was impressive. The bush is their home and we made it ours for a short (too short) time. I felt comfortable with them as they were relaxed and fun, yet I knew they were always vigilant for our safety.
My favorite memory is the giraffes that would be right outside my living quarters in the afternoon and the other animals that roamed freely through the camps. There is no way I can tell you how the time in Africa impacted me. I have a facebook page “South Africa Calling” with pictures and video links about my time with Wildlife ACT in Zululand this past April.”
Hannah Margolis, 18 yrs, Canadian, July 2011
“I had a really great time with Wildlife ACT. I was Mkhuze for two weeks, and wish I could have stayed longer! The staff are very friendly, and the wildlife monitor I had was fantastic. He was really fun and taught me so much! The best part of Wildlife ACT is how hands-on it is; you’re with the animals everyday and I really felt like we were helping them! The highlight of my two weeks was darting a young cheetah, who we fitted with her first collar so we could monitor her. I recommend Wildlife ACT to anybody who wants an exciting, hands-on experience with African animals. I can’t wait to come back!”
Joke Lammers, 56 yrs, Netherlands, July 2011
“In July 2011 I’ve participated for two weeks, worked at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park and enjoyed it very much. A well organised project in a beautiful reserve. Good accommodation, with a communal kitchen and hot showers(!!). The monitor on Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, Cathy, is very experienced, enthusiastic and responsible. Monitoring the painted dogs was great, these are exceptional social animals. Working with camera traps was great fun. I would love to participate again.”
Sue Learoyd & family – UK, Aug 2011
“We stayed at Mkhuze Game Reserve, which was just beautiful. The accommodation was good, and better than expected with a shower and hot running water. Seeing the sun rise and set over the reserve, was just something else. We went in August and the cold mornings and evenings in the back of the truck was a surprise, and we were wearing layers and fleeces – do take a woolly hat and gloves!
I cannot recommend more highly the wonderful support you get from the staff. Bronwen is just so helpful, and even made a cake for my stepson’s birthday! Cilla, our monitor was so knowledgeable and made a real difference to our understanding of conservation and Africa.
Wildlife ACT are special. We’ve made lifelong friends and developed a love of the African Bush. It really isn’t a safari, it’s far deeper than that, it gets under your skin.”
Robin Shepard, Feb 2013
“To the Wildlife ACT Team,
Just back from an incredible two-week stay at uMkhuze Game Reserve, I find myself grateful for an amazing adventure and already wishing I was out in the bush again each dawn and dusk with the Wild Dogs. I also wanted to thank each member of the Wildlife ACT Team that made this opportunity possible and specifically thank and recognize those who made my experience, and that of the other volunteers I shared my time with, especially memorable and inspirational.
Firstly, for patiently and sincerely answering my seemingly endless pre-departure inquiries, Bronwen Kelly. Despite thoroughly researching Wildlife ACT before deciding on coming, I had a number of specific options and questions that Bronwen answered expediently and comprehensively, in a friendly, helpful manner. This made a significant impact on my decision to come to Wildlife ACT, as her professionalism and efficiency gave me a good deal of confidence in the team’s validity and ethic, each step of the way.
Secondly, yet most importantly, our Wildlife Monitor, Cole du Plessis was an absolutely inspirational ambassador for Wild Dogs, the Mkhuze wildlife we encountered, and conservation in general. His focus and passion for his work and the Wild Dogs was impressive to each one of us. Cole set an excellent example with his solid work ethic, time management skills and incredible adaptability.
The most inspirational part of this whole experience, though for me, was being able to spend time with, learn about, and experience the Wild Dogs through Cole’s dedication, affection and enthusiasm for them. I already had a great interest in the plight of the critically endangered African Wild Dog, but that was multiplied exponentially by the passion and breadth for which Cole performs his job.
Again, thank you all so much for the opportunity to be a part of this experience, for your commitment to the cause of conservation, and for the personal sacrifices you each make to run a great team on the front lines, dedicated to Real Conservation.
Nigel & Sally Ritson, UK, Feb 2013
Ode to Megan Lategan
You’ve been our guide since last Thursday
And have been amazing in every way
You found Elephant, Buffalo, Rhino and frogs
But as of yet no wild dogs
We searched and searched for Fen and Poofy
But had more chance of finding Goofy
Those pesky Mutts are so elusive
The Tembe pack have become reclusives
Despite no dogs we’ve had a blast
Chasing round the park so fast
Megan, you have been a brilliant guide
Taking us from hide to hide
North, South, East, West
You really tried your very best
And because you’ve done so much for us
I’d like to say thanks, you are gorgeous!
Dominique Correa, Jan 2013
I would like to thank all the Wildlife ACT team for the amazing time I had in Africa.
I can truly say that the experience changed my life forever. Before the trip I had no idea what I wanted to do and didn’t know what good could come from my university course, which is Advertising. And now, Wildlife ACT inspired me to used it for a good cause. I have been trying to get involved in Brazilian conservation organizations and have been more interested in my country’s wildlife which is huge!
At both Tembe Elephant Park and Hluhluwe I met the most amazing people and I know I made friends for life. The work you guys are doing is incredible and I would like to help in anyway I could. Please let me know if you guys ever need anything! I’m planning on coming back in July of next year. I cannot wait.
Thank you so much for everything.
Lizzie Hide, UK, March 2013
To the Wildlife ACT monitors: Thank you for an awesome(!) 8 weeks. You are a truly amazing bunch of people – your passion, knowledge, patience (especially with my tendency to organise) and dedication to the wildlife you monitor and protect is both inspiring and humbling. I have learnt so much from you all and the experiences I shared with you will be in my memory forever.