Volunteer With Endangered Species

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

Everything you need to know

Zululand is recognised as one of the most biodiverse wildlands in Africa, with much of it declared a World Heritage Site. Wildlife conservation volunteers work across unique parks, with most of them being 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.

Prices in:
ZAR

Price

R

28800

Duration

2 weeks +

type

Volunteer

Requirements

Ages: 18 - 65+

Wildlife ACT is proud to have initiated wildlife conservation project sites on various wildlife reserves across Zululand, South Africa. The Zululand ecosystem is among the most diverse and productive wild lands on the planet, yet amid its gallery of wildlife, conservation efforts face tremendous challenges, and we need your help. Zululand makes a dramatic backdrop to our initiatives, as it is a place of majestic beauty with cultures as diverse as its landscapes. Zululand is a rare place with age-old cultures and traditions, yet it is the birthplace of wildlife conservation in Africa, where the Rhino was historically saved from certain extinction more than 70 years ago.

For every two weeks that you join us as a wildlife conservation volunteer, you have the opportunity to live and work on a different park. Volunteers can also select these projects in conjunction with the Zululand Leopard Census. Most of our volunteers who come for more than two weeks spend two weeks on the Leopard Census project and then do a multiple of two weeks on our other project sites in Zululand.

Zululand is considered by many as the heartbeat of Africa and the birthplace of wildlife conservation in Africa. The African bush is such a dynamic and ever-changing environment in which to work and our movements and activities are entirely regulated by the priority and endangered animals that we monitor.

A Typical Day as a Wildlife Conservation Volunteer:

  • You’ll get up early in the morning and bundle onto the back of our open 4×4 vehicles and head out on a monitoring session along with your wildlife monitor and the other wildlife conservation volunteers.
  • Your wildlife monitor will have specific animals he or she needs to monitor. Radio telemetry is used to locate the animals with tracking collars. You will be properly trained to use the telemetry equipment and after a few days you’ll be doing the telemetry tracking yourself.
  • Once you’ve located the animal you will map the sighting using a handheld GPS device and update identity kits if necessary. You’ll also need to document behavioural notes used in our research. The species we monitor include endangered species such as the African Wild Dog (or Painted Dog), Cheetah, Black Rhino and Vulture. We also do incidental monitoring of focal species such as Elephant, White Rhino, Hyena and Leopard.
  • We’re usually back by late morning when there will be time to relax, read, write in your journal, have a nap or watch the abundant bird and animal life which occurs around the camp.
  • We head out again in the late afternoon and we’re normally back in camp shortly after sunset to start preparing supper. Most meals are enjoyed sitting around the campfire, listening to the sounds of the bush and discussing the day’s activities. After a long day, we’re usually in bed early, excited for the day ahead!
  • At least once a week we have a day set aside to input the information we’ve gathered from the field into the camp computer and make an analysis of the data.
  • Wildlife ACT’s conservation volunteers prepare their own meals, and are responsible for general cleaning and maintenance in the camp.

Please note:

Depending on how long you join the team for and the time of year, you may also be part of wildlife darting or trapping, the radio collaring of various animal species, the relocation and re-introduction of game, identity tagging of animals, setting and checking of camera traps, game counts, bird ringing and alien plant control. (Please note that these activities occur strictly when the need arises and cannot be guaranteed).

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‘This is Zululand, Not Disneyland’

We have a saying here: ‘This is Zululand, Not Disneyland’. It’s not always easy and there are many challenges along the way, including long hours and tough work, but it’s one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences you’ll ever have.

Due to the nature of our work, we often have to track one animal for an entire day, covering large distances without success – but it’s important that we do it. This is not a safari operation and we don’t want to romanticize the work we do. Our projects enable you to experience what life is like as a real conservationist or wildlife researcher. This is real Africa and you’ll contribute to conservation as a real natural resource conservation volunteer.

Training and Skills:

All training will be via practical tuition in the field. The skills you will gain are:

  • The proper use of telemetry tracking equipment;
  • The use of hand-held GPS devices;
  • How to produce animal identification kits;
  • How to set up and use camera traps to monitor certain endangered species;
  • How to track animals using traditional methods like the identification and following of animal spoor;
  • How to collect animal behavior data and how this data is extrapolated and used to inform and enhance management objectives on these reserves, as well as other reserves across Africa; and
  • A firm understanding of wildlife conservation issues facing endangered species across Africa.
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Free Time: With regards to downtime and leisure activities while you are with us, the nature of the work being done means that the animals need to be located every single day. The wildlife monitor will therefore continue working continuously seven days a week, but volunteers may take the occasional Sunday for an admin day or rest day at the camp. Depending on the daily tasks and activities, volunteers normally have some downtime between morning and afternoon monitoring sessions.

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Wildlife ACT conducts intensive endangered species monitoring work in Zululand, South Africa, and volunteers are an integral part of the exciting conservation work that we do. Wildlife monitoring is essential for keeping track of animal movement patterns, habitat utilization, population demographics, snaring and poaching incidents and breakouts. This valuable information, which Wildlife ACT and our wildlife conservation volunteers gather, has numerous management applications, including the planning of successful introduction and removal strategies of priority wildlife species.

This requires our wildlife monitors and conservation volunteers to go out into the reserve every day and find these animals using either VHF tracking equipment or conventional spoor tracking techniques. We also develop wildlife identikits of all the species we help monitor. Our projects have all been approved and contracted directly by the Management Authority of each reserve and national park, to perform critical and essential conservation work for those reserves.

Africa has over 400 known endangered animal species. Tracking and monitoring of endangered species is a critical step in the conservation of these animals, but many game reserves do not have the capacity to run effective wildlife monitoring programmes. Wildlife ACT provides this free tracking and monitoring service to game reserves in Zululand both by initiating, implementing and managing monitoring projects on reserves that don’t have monitoring programmes in place, or by taking over existing monitoring projects on reserves that can no longer fund or manage them. This is what your participation supports.

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We collect all arriving participants from Richards Bay, which is the closest airport. You will have to book your International Flight to arrive at Johannesburg (OR Tambo International Airport), and then book a short internal connecting flight, from Johannesburg (JHB) to Richards Bay (RCB). We do ask that participants confirm their placement booking with us, before purchasing any flight tickets!


ARRIVAL FLIGHT:

For your arrival flight (on the Monday), you will need to book the flight which arrives to Richards Bay Airport at 12:30 PM (or any earlier flight on that day). Any flight scheduled to arrive later than 12:30 PM will NOT be suitable, since we will not be able to get you to the projects in time. (The vehicle leaves the airport at 12:45 PM).

If participants cannot find flights to fit in with the timing guidelines for Arrival Monday, they will need to fly in to Richards Bay on the Sunday and overnight near the Airport, and make their own way back to the airport by 12:00 PM on the Monday, to meet the driver.

NOTE: Please be aware that if you arrive on a morning flight on Monday, you will have a few hours to wait until the transport service arrives to collect all arriving volunteers from Richards Bay Airport at 12:00 PM. There is a small coffee shop within the Richards Bay Airport. You will be safe to wait there, and they sell beverages and snacks so you can sit and read, or work on your laptop.


DEPARTURE FLIGHT:

For your departure flight (on the Monday), you will need to book a flight departing from Richard's Bay Airport at 12:25 PM (or any later flight on that day).

Any flight departing earlier than 12:25 will NOT be suitable, as we will not be able to get you to the airport in time. (The vehicle drops off participants at 11:30 AM).


OVERNIGHT OPTIONS NEAR THE AIRPORT:

Participants should please book accommodation options situated close to the Richards Bay Airport. The “Serendipity Guesthouse”, “Woodpecker Inn”, and “Gecko Inn” options (all located within 5 kilometers of the airport), have all been used by our previous participants.

Please make sure to request a shuttle back to the airport for the Monday, in your booking enquiry with the accommodation option you choose to book.

CAUTION: Please be advised that accommodation options located in the Meerensee area, or near the Tuzi Gazi Waterfront, are significantly further from the airport in terms of travel time (30-minute drive), and traffic congestion on that busy route may cause additional delays.


COLLECTION FROM THE AIRPORT:

The driver will be provided with all arriving participants’ photographs, and he will be waiting inside the small Arrivals Hall of the airport at 12:00 PM, holding a “Welcome Wildlife ACT volunteers” sign; and a list of all arriving participants’ names. Once all participants have met up with the driver, the vehicle will depart from the airport and drive northwards up the N2 to drop off participants for each project.

The Wildlife ACT Monitor from each project will be waiting to collect their new participants. You will then be transported the remaining distance to the project Research Camp inside the Reserve, on the back of the open 4x4 Monitoring vehicle.

On the Monday of your departure you will be transported back to Richards Bay Airport to catch your departing flight home.

ZAR
2 Weeks

28800.00

4weeks

47000.00

6 weeks

65200.00

8 weeks

83400.00

10 weeks

101600.00

12 weeks

119800.00

Transport Fee

2800.00

2024

27 May

10 or 24 June

08 or 22 July

05 or 19 August

02, 16, or 30 September

14 or 28 October

11 or 25 November

09 or (*23) December

2025

06 or 20 January

03 or 17 February

03, 17 or 31 March

14 or 28 April

12 or 26 May

09 or 23 June

07 or 21 July

04 or 18 August

01, 15 or 29 September

13 or 27 October

10 or 24 November

08 or 22 December

Location

This project spans across multiple game reserves in Zululand. These areas in the eastern parts of South Africa are lush, green and teaming with wildlife. Its a favourable habitat for many types of wildlife species and is where we focus on their protection and conservation.