Volunteer With Endangered Species

Zululand, South Africa

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.

Project type



2 weeks +


R28,800.00 First 2 weeks
R18,200.00 Every following 2 weeks


Ages: 18 - 65+
What Will I Do?
Project Detail
Project Location
How Do I Get There?
Dates and Costs


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.



Download Our Endangered Species Project Document


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.

What Will I Do?

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).


‘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.


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.



Project Detail

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.



Project Location

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP)

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP) was established in 1895 and is one of the oldest Game Reserves in Africa. The park is 960 km² / 96,000 hectares and contains an immense diversity of fauna and flora. Due to the size of the protected area, logistically it. . .

Tembe National Elephant Park

Situated in Northern Zululand, and adjoining the Mozambique border, Tembe Elephant Park is most widely known for having over 200 of the world’s largest Elephants, which are also the last remaining indigenous herd in KwaZulu-Natal and includes the legendary big “Tuskers.” (Tuskers are elephants. . .

Manyoni Private Game Reserve

Manyoni Private Game Reserve (previously known as Zululand Rhino Reserve) lies within the Msunduzi valley in northern Zululand. The area falls under the Mkuze Valley Low-veld vegetation type, varying from open Savanna thorn-veld, bush-veld to riverine woodland, characterized by Acacia and Marula tree species.. . .

How Do I Get There?

We collect ALL arriving participants from the Richards Bay Airport, since that is our closest Airport. You will need to book your International flight to land at Johannesburg (OR Tambo International Airport), and then book a short domestic (internal) flight, from Johannesburg (JHB) to Richards Bay (RCB).

For your ARRIVAL flight (on the Monday), you will need to book a flight to Richards Bay Airport scheduled to arrive AT 12:30 pm, or earlier.

Any flight scheduled to arrive later than 12:30 will NOT be suitable, since we will not be able to get you to the project in time.

The transport vehicle will depart from the Richards Bay Airport at 12:45 PM, to bring all the arriving participants to their various projects.

For your DEPARTURE flight (on the Monday), you will need to book a flight from Richards Bay Airport scheduled to depart AT 12:40 pm, or later.

Any flight scheduled to depart earlier than 12:40 will NOT be suitable, since we will not be able to get you to the Airport in time.

The transport vehicle will arrive to the Richards Bay Airport at 11:30 AM, to drop off all the departing participants from their various projects.

If participants cannot find flights to fit in with the timing guidelines for Arrival Monday, participants will need to fly to Richards Bay on the Sunday, and overnight near the Airport and then make their way back to the Richards Bay Airport ion the Monday, to meet the driver.



Participants should please book accommodation options situated close to the Richards Bay Airport (i.e. within the leafy suburb of the “Birdswood” area of Richards Bay).

The “Serendipity Guesthouse” , and “Gecko Inn” options (both located within 5 kilometers of the Airport), have been used by our previous participants.

Caution: Please be advised that accommodation options 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.

Transfer Service:

When you arrive at Richards Bay Airport you will be collected by an organised responsible transfer company. The driver will have a copy of the transport schedule including, all your photographs. They will find you in the (VERY) small Airport: either in the small arrival area or in the little coffee shop within the airport if you arrive early.

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 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.



Dates and Costs

2 Weeks 28800.00 2021.76 1739.52 1532.16
4 Weeks 47000.00 3299.40 2838.80 2500.40
6 Weeks 65200.00 4577.04 3938.08 3468.64
8 Weeks 83400.00 5854.68 5037.36 4436.88
10 Weeks 101600.00 7132.32 6136.64 5405.12
12 Weeks 119800.00 8409.96 7235.92 6373.36
TRANSPORT FEE 2800.00 196.56 169.12 148.96

Starting Dates


04 March
18 March
01 April
15 April
29 April
13 May
27 May
10 June
24 June
08 July
22 July
05 August
19 August
02 September
16 September
30 September
14 October
28 October
11 November
25 November
09 December
23 December