Volunteer With Leopards

Zululand, South Africa

Everything you need to know

Wildlife ACT is officially contracted by the international wild cat organisation, Panthera, to conduct Leopard density estimate 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 one of the largest on Leopards of its kind in the world where we’re working together with provincial protected areas to help inform management to improve Leopard conservation.

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
How Do I Get There?
Dates and Costs


Please Note: We are NOT currently accepting any further applications for the Leopard Survey, and encourage participants to join in our award-winning Endangered Species programme. However, if you are particularly interested in the Leopard Survey please motivate your request by contacting danielle@wildlifeact.com

Wildlife ACT is officially contracted by the international wild cat organisation, Panthera, to conduct Leopard density estimate surveys within South Africa using remote camera trapping methods. The survey is one of 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.

Leopard management is typically guided more by experience or anecdote, than hard science. This project aims to collect real data on leopard population trends which can inform management decisions and assess the impacts of conservation actions.

Wildlife ACT volunteers assist with the leopard monitoring in KwaZulu-Natal. This involves setting up, maintaining, and taking down the cameras at different locations, checking the SD cards and recording data as well as helping with identikits for each animal if necessary. Volunteers also help collate the photographs of non-target, priority species (Black and White Rhino, Elephant, Lion, Cheetah, Wild Dog) for management and monitoring purposes.

Wildlife ACT volunteers can select this project in conjunction with the Endangered Species Conservation project. Most volunteers who come for more than two weeks spend two weeks on the Leopard Survey project and then do a multiple of two-week sessions on the other Wildlife ACT project sites in Zululand.



Download Our Leopard Survey Project Document



The Leopard Survey has taken place on various game reserves in KwaZulu-Natal including state protected areas such as sections of Isimangiliso Wetland Park (uMkhuze and Eastern Shores), Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Parks (Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, Ithala Game Reserve and Tembe Elephant Park) as well as private protected areas such as Somkhanda and Manyoni.

What Will I Do?

Wildlife ACT’s main focus on these short-term Survey projects involves setting up and or taking down the motion sensor cameras at different locations – (note that this occurs at the beginning and end of each survey – which lasts for a 2-month period). The ongoing fieldwork for the Leopard Survey team involves driving to each camera site within the reserve. At each of the sites the team will check to see that the cameras are active and are still attached to the poles correctly to get the best leopard photos. (The cameras may have been bumped off by curious animals).

The team will change the batteries and download the images from the cameras on to a USB device to work through back at the camp. There may also be a need to clear some vegetation or make natural barriers to protect the cameras and their very important data from inquisitive animals. Incidental monitoring of any other priority species animals on the reserve will be recorded as incidental sightings, during the course of performing the camera trap fieldwork.

Back at camp the team will download all the photos collected and then start the very important task of sorting and categorizing them into different Priority Species Folders.  This may take some time behind a computer at camp, however by doing this you will be greatly assisting the reserve with crucial data for optimal management of the wildlife area.

Free Time

Camera download days are usually only 4 days of the week. The camera downloads take on average 4 – 7 hours on any given day. Once the selected camera-sites have been downloaded for the day and the photographs have been correctly catalogued, you will have some free time.



Project Detail

Wildlife ACT is officially contracted by the international wild cat organization, Panthera, to conduct Leopard population surveys within KwaZulu-Natal. This project was started due to increasing persecution outside of game reserves causing the Leopard populations within protected areas to decline. In response to this Panthera, together with Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife, worked together to rewrite legislation regulating the trophy hunting and control of Leopards that may enter outside communities.

This project is continued, now with the aid of Wildlife ACT, to ensure that the new regulations are adhered to and are sustainable for the years to come. For more information visit the Panthera website.

With the use of Camera Trap Surveys we are able to estimate the density and gauge population trends over time. At specifically chosen reserves, the project sets up a minimum of 30 camera-trap stations, each of which has two camera-traps (to capture the left- and right-hand side of the animal). The stations are set-up along roads, animal paths and other areas (such as riverbeds or drainage lines) which Leopards may frequent.

The surveys are spread across an area that covers 100 – 120 km2 and runs for 50 days before moving to a different reserve. Estimates of Leopard population size in any given area are determined using capture-recapture models which is why this survey will run within KwaZulu-Natal for years to come.

How Do I Get There?

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, and then book a short internal connecting flight, from Johannesburg to RICHARDS BAY.

For arrival, participants can choose to either fly in to Richards Bay on the SUNDAY, and to then overnight at a B&B close to the Airport, OR to arrive on either of the following flights arriving in Richards Bay on the MONDAY: at 09:15 AM, or at 12:50 PM, if they prefer not to overnight on Sunday.

Flights arriving later than 12:50 on the Monday are TOO LATE for us to collect you!


The transport service will collect participants from the Richards Bay Airport at 12:50 PM on the MONDAY. Please ensure therefore that you book one of the following flights, arriving in Richards Bay at:

  • 14:30 PM; 16:15 PM or 18:10 PM on the SUNDAY,
  • OR, at 07:25 AM; 09:15 AM; or at 12:50 PM on the MONDAY. (**NO FLIGHTS ARRIVING LATER THAN 12:50 PM WILL BE SUITABLE, ON THE MONDAY.)

Important Note: Please be aware that if you arrive on a morning flight, you will have a few hours to wait until the transport service arrives to collect all arriving volunteers from Richards Bay Airport at 12:50. We suggest you wait in the small coffee shop within the Richards Bay Airport. You will be comfortable and safe there, and they do sell beverages and light meals/snacks so you can sit and read or work on your laptop.


The transport service will drop off participants at the Richards Bay Airport at 11:30 AM on the MONDAY. Please ensure therefore that you book one of the following flights, departing from Richards Bay at:

  • 13:10 PM; 15:00 PM; 16:35 PM; or 18:40 PM on the MONDAY of your departure.

Important Note: Please do not book flights departing from Richards Bay earlier than 13:10 PM, as we will simply not be able to get you to the airport in time, from the reserves.


All 5 accommodation venues listed in the attached document will COLLECT our participants from the Richards Bay Airport, on the Sunday. (This airport collection is included in the listed accommodation price).

These 5 venues have also ALL agreed to transport our participants BACK to the Richards Bay Airport on the Monday   FREE OF CHARGE – thereby making collection quicker from our side. Please make sure to request this service as a Wildlife ACT volunteer, in your booking enquiry with them.


We will then collect all the participants together, at the RICHARDS BAY AIRPORT, at 12:50 PM, on the Monday. Those participants who choose to arrive on the earlier flight on the Monday, will simply wait at the Airport for the 12:50 collection. (There is a small coffee shop within the Airport, where participants can safely wait.)

If participants book any other accommodation in Richards Bay, they will need to arrange and pay for their own taxi’s to get back to the Airport on Monday.

Participants will need to be at the Airport NO LATER THAN 12:30 PM if they plan to make their own way to the Airport.


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


11 December
25 December


08 January
22 January
05 February
19 February
04 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