The Shamwari Game Reserve Conservation Volunteer Programme offers a once in a lifetime chance to get behind the scenes and involved with the conservation efforts of the Game Reserve. Wildlife conservation volunteers take part in game monitoring, assisting at the Born Free big cat sanctuary, looking after orphaned animals at the wildlife rehabilitation centre and much more. Shamwari, meaning “my friend” in Shona, is the pinnacle of game reserves and home to the coveted Big five on one of the largest conservation initiatives in Southern Africa, and is located in a malaria-free environment. Research Internship opportunities also available.
Volunteers will have the opportunity to:
- Become part of the team at Shamwari Game Reserve and work amongst Africa’s Big Five.
- Game monitoring and counting to assist in monitoring the ecological balance on the Game Reserve
- Track and monitor predators (Lions and Leopards) and large herbivores (Rhinos and Elephants)
- Set out camera traps and do anti poaching night drives
- Work alongside conservationists and enjoy related lectures and talks
Volunteers must meet the following requirements:
- Age 18 yrs and upwards.
- Interest / field of study: conservation, environmental science, wildlife management, ecology or wildlife biology, wildlife journalism, wildlife photography, veterinary science, animal behaviour studies.
- Personal qualities of flexibility and adaptability.
- Be self-motivated: a carefully structured full programme is provided each week, but volunteers need to be adaptable to some programme changes depending on variables in the running of the project. Free time is also factored in, and volunteers need to be independent and mature enough to make constructive use of such recreational time.
Shamwari Game Reserve is situated in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, only an hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth. This area historically had an abundance of wild game roaming free with one of the richest wildlife areas on the African continent. The Eastern Cape is famous for a number of other game reserves. The great herds of Knysna Forest elephants were almost totally eradicated at the turn of this century and in 1931 there were only 11 elephants remaining. Miraculously, the man most responsible for nearly wiping out an entire species had a dramatic change of heart and spent the remainder of life fighting for a safe haven to conserve these rare and wonderful animals. Addo National Park and the Mountain Zebra Park saw almost exactly the same thing happen to the rare mountain zebra. Shot to the brink of extinction, in the 1930s this rare species struggled to come back.
Today, there are over 200 in the park. On 15th October 1992, Shamwari was officially opened, and an Animal Rescue and Educational program was launched, in partnership with the Born Free Foundation to home rescued big cats from captivity. Over time Shamwari grew and established itself and by the year 2000, the Reserve was large enough and stocked sufficiently to support large predators. A dedicated and systematic re-introduction program was launched and finally in October 2000, the first lions were brought back to the Eastern Cape and released at Shamwari to fulfil a dream.
Today over 5000 game range freely, having been bred and/or re-introduced into Shamwari, now a Game Reserve stretching over 25000 ha.
Conservation volunteers live in any one of our three varying accommodation facilities which have dining and common and/or lounge areas, and most of the time, you will be hosted in an area locally known as Madolos, which is on the wildlife breeding area of the Shamwari Wildlife and Conservation department, but is predator-free allowing for total freedom for volunteers. General game including zebra, kudu and waterbuck can be found along with buffalo on the adjoining property. Shared rooms with twin beds or three beds (if in tented accommodation). Plunge pool, DVD facilities, Internet access (you have to buy WIFI vouchers) with shared computer for volunteers, outdoor boma and fireplace available at Madolos. Although any room or facility changes are averted, participants may be moved during their stay.
Three meals are provided on a daily basis. Meals will either be served at the facility itself or taken as a pre-packed serving, depending on planned or as result of unscheduled activities. Vegetarians and other dietary requirements can be catered for, if notified in advance. Cooked breakfasts are served once weekly – generally Fridays. Meals are prepared with exposing participants to an array of local dishes in mind and are generally taken on a self-service basis with the option of juice, tea or coffee. Still and spring bottled water is available for purchase from local trading stores.
Volunteers can join year-round from 2 to 12 weeks in duration.