Wildlife conservation and community volunteer projects and internships worldwide

Shamwari Big Five Game Reserve Volunteer Programme, South Africa

1 - 12 weeks from

minimum age

  • Become part of the team at Shamwari Game Reserve and work amongst Africa's Big Five.
  • Receive one to one training with a world renowned Wildlife Vet when you join our Vet or Pre-Vet programme
  • Track and monitor predators (Lions and Leopards) and large herbivores (Rhinos and Elephants)
  • Visit the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary and the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre as part of your programme

Rhino walks infront of view of jeep where volunteers are

About the Shamwari Private Game Reserve Project

The Shamwari Private Game Reserve Conservation Volunteer Programme is a once in a lifetime chance to get behind-the-scenes and involved with the conservation efforts of the world-renowned Shamwari Private Game Reserve.  A fully operational 23,000 hectare Big Five Game Reserve – all projects undertaken are based around the requirements of the various short and long-term conservation projects and the need for assistance by the award-winning Shamwari Wildlife and Conservation Department.  Shamwari is also featured in the Netflix series – Shamwari Untamed where you can watch behind the scenes footage between the wildlife and the wildlife vet and staff.

Wildlife Conservation Volunteer Programme Highlights

  • Become part of the team at Shamwari Private 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

Wildlife conservation volunteers will have the chance to assist with many on-going short and long term projects. However, due to the nature of working in and around wildlife and a reliance on prevailing conditions, there is no guarantee that you will be involved in all projects during your placement.

Researching leopards at Shamwari

Wildlife Conservation Volunteer Possible Activities:

Game Monitoring: Rhino, Elephants, Predators
With regular monitoring, it is possible to identify individuals, compile information about the family structure and determine feeding and special ecology. Data collected is used to assist in the managing decisions for the reserve.

Game Count
Annual game counts are conducted to establish the carrying capacity of the reserve. Game counts assist in the decision making of predator to prey ratios and the movement of animals on or off the reserve.

Volunteers learn about telemetry tracking at ShamwariTelemetry Tracking
Monitoring of some high profile animals like cheetah and leopard are required using telemetry tracking equipment as result of the neighbouring properties carrying livestock and the elusive nature of some of the species.

Restoration & Rehabilitation of Reserve Landscapes
The need to return the once pristine landscape to its original splendour includes the collecting and removal of old fence lines and rehabilitating degraded and overgrazed land.

Internship Research Projects
Undertakings of research projects with a focus on a value added outcome for the reserve or conservation as a whole, are greatly encouraged.  These projects are often undertaken in conjunction with both local and foreign research and academic institutions and may range from elephant fertility testing to capturing data on lesser known species such as Brown Hyena.

Volunteers planting a tree sapling at ShamwariAlien Plant Control
Alien plants were introduced to the land by the farmers for different reasons and uses. Today these invasive plant life need to be removed to increase the natural biodiversity and decrease fire risk.

Born Free Foundation
It is the mission of both the Born Free Foundation and Shamwari Private Game Reserve to promote the conservation of species and the protection of habitat while maintaining a humane and compassionate approach to the welfare of animals. Therefore, it is their goal to create an awareness about the horrific way in which wildlife is exploited in captivity around the world. An opportunity will be given for individuals to volunteer at the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary at least once during their stay.

Volunteers assist with an elephant capture at ShamwariWildlife Rehabilitation Centre (WRC)
Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre was set up to aid in rehabilitating injured animals found on the reserve and surrounding community. The aim is to give the animal short-term care and release it back into their natural environment. Volunteers are sent when, and if, assistance is required as the centre is not a sanctuary. No animals are kept for purposes of breeding in captivity but are hosted with the aim of giving them a second chance to take on life back in the wild.

Community Projects
The role of conservation does not stop at conserving nature alone, but also includes a responsibility to uplift local and impoverished communities. This responsibility includes education of the community as to the role and benefit of conserving biodiversity and further stresses the importance of conserving our natural resources.  Weekly trips are made into the local community to assist in various community projects that range from creating and maintaining vegetable gardens, recycling projects, painting classrooms and building jungle gyms.

General Reserve Maintenance
Possible Activities Include:
• Game capture and other wildlife veterinary work
• Sleep outs on the Big five reserve
• Orientation and nature walks
• Assisting in night and anti-poaching patrols

The reserve is constantly monitoring existing game and introducing new game throughout the year, making it a very active conservation project. The wildlife department where you will be working has received the Global Nature Fund Award for Best Conservation Practice, and the wildlife director, Dr Johan Joubert, was voted one of South Africa’s Top Ten conservationists by the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Opportunities for Groups
We can also arrange opportunities for groups to join the programme for up to 30 people, for individuals ages 13 yrs and over. For more details, please email:  Victoria.mcneil@workingabroad.com

Family Volunteering
We are able to accept families on this programme with children above 16 years of age. Families will be provided with their own room with ensuite bathroom or two rooms side by side. For specific questions on family volunteer options, please email:  Victoria.mcneil@workingabroad.com

Help at the Wildlife Hospital at Shamwari

Veterinary and Conservation Experience

We are offering the opportunity for students to gain work experience required to become a vet.  These days most universities will only consider your application if you have had several weeks of experience, and you will be expected to gain more experience whilst studying.

This programme offers veterinary work experience for whether you are applying for the first time, or looking to expand your portfolio. Our courses are carefully designed for vet studies criteria whilst giving you the chance to work on the award-winning Shamwari Private Game Reserve.  The courses give students the hands-on experience on the best ways to treat African wildlife. Students work alongside our experienced specialists on Shamwari Private Game Reserve and with a world-renowned wildlife Vet, Dr Johan Joubert.

Vet experience for individuals already studying or qualified and Pre-vet for individuals in the process or interested in applying for vet school: 

27 May – 10 June 2024
10 June – 24 June 2024
24 June – 08 July 2024

Cost is £2295 per person including all training, supervision and hands on work with wildlife vets, as well as food, lodging and airport transfers for 2 weeks.

For more details, please email: Victoria.mcneil@workingabroad.com

Shamwari Big Five Game Reserve Volunteer Programme, South Africa

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