Wildlife conservation and community volunteer projects and internships worldwide

Wildlife Reserve Volunteer Programme, South Africa

2 - 12 Weeks from

minimum age

  • Gain hands-on experience working at a game reserve in South Africa
  • Work and live alongside a team of conservation volunteers from around the world
  • See a range of magnificent species including giraffes, antelopes and hyenas
  • Family Special experiences offered including rhino horn trimming activities

"The wildlife conservation project we joined in South Africa in August was really amazing."

5 Star Icon

The wildlife conservation project we joined in South Africa in August was really amazing. Let’s start first about the organization and the support we received: Melissa has been very kind and prepared to set up all the logistics and we arrived at the camp without any problems. There we met the other components of the staff and all of them were really prepared and they immediately briefed us about all the aspects of the activities and life at the camp we would have experienced in the days to come. We had no security concerns and we were told precisely to any potential dangers we might have found. The personnel are very competent and prepared, we learned so much from them.

Regarding the experience itself, we had some expectations, but not really precise as it was for us the first time being involved in a volunteering program of such. Well, these expectations were exceeded by the experience itself. Of course we lived in the middle of the savanna, we saw animals every day and we were so lucky to see all the big five. But this we would have expected. On the contrary, what we didn’t really know was all the tasks, the activities, the effort and the passion the people working in the programm put to protect species and Rhinos in our case. We learned so much about these beautiful animals, their behaviour, their stories, and we felt really involved in the project, even if in just two weeks you just scratch the surface of what animal conservation really means.

I would suggest this program to anyone even slightly interested in dealing with animals, and I actually do so.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you and WorkingAbroad for proposing this experience and for all the support received before the departure.

"The girls absolutely loved it and want to go back again!"

5 Star Icon

I just wanted to say a big thank you for organising our trip – it was utterly amazing. We really weren’t sure what to expect before we went and it surpassed our expectations considerably. The girls absolutely loved it and want to go back again!

I think the staff there were surprised at how they interacted with the kids and the feedback we had from them was that they loved having the children around. We loved it and made some great friends, and was fab being with the other family too.

We stayed at Waterbuck site – accommodation fab, large wooden huts with attached ensuite tents at the end with shower/toilet/washbasin. Family room. Food was amazing – usually three cooked meals a day, onsite cook – and really good food and really well catered for vegetarians (and were happy to adapt for other diets too). I’d recommend that if a family wanted to do this again they just do a week, as it was a good amount of time as some of the activities were the same for the extra days we did. This didn’t matter to us but just wanted to highlight this in case it helped with other family decisions. Plus they were happy for us to do other things – for example, I went out with the other volunteers to do the bird surveys one morning, and we were involved in rhino horn trimming as an anti-poaching deterrent and they were super helpful in making that happen.

We all totally loved it and were just in awe about what they do out there, and just so happy that we could make a contribution to save the beautiful rhinos. A truly life-changing experience

"It was cool to see how a reserve runs and the importance of conserving the animals."

5 Star Icon

I spent 2 weeks in April 2022 on the Wildlife Reserve Volunteer Programme, South Africa. We lived in cabins on site, meeting in the volunteer base every morning. The roles I participated in were recording data on wildlife in reserve, and recording and identifying rhinos. We used GPS and compasses. We surveyed the wildlife from the vehicle and on foot, including on night drives. I assisted with the maintenance of the reserve, including maintaining water sources. I observed and then partook in scent dog training walking through the bush with a walkie-talkie and pedometer. We met the anti-poaching patrol unit who were all lovely and learned of the work they do. It was cool to see how a reserve runs and the importance of conserving the animals. I am fortunate that I got to help assist in a veterinary procedure with a rhino and her calf. The volunteers and staff cook and eat together, taking turns which is a great way to meet everyone. I loved that the data we collected was collected went to the associated universities and agencies for research purposes. The workers were helpful, lovely and full of information.

"Situated in the middle of the bush, the views were amazing"

5 Star Icon

Whilst there I took part in a range of activities including; controlled burns to ensure there is fresh grass for the wildlife, I assisted staff on game drives with students staying at camp on field trips. My favourite activity was visually monitoring and filling out Ethograms on certain animals. I also helped out with data entry, we carried out scientific research on the grass quality on the reserve and input the data onto the digital spreadsheets. On less busy days we carried out camp maintenance. We did things like clean the communal areas, paint cabins and clean/garden the campground.

The staff that work there are so welcoming and friendly, it feels like you’re joining the family. The staff are available 24 hours a day and are extremely supportive of any issues you may have. It is very social, you are likely to make friends for life. There’s communally cooked dinner every night and special occasions call for a braai, a South African style BBQ around the campfire. Living in the bush is very unpredictable but this program runs smoothly due to the effort of the staff.

Situated in the middle of the bush the views were amazing and sometimes animals like giraffes and antelope come into or near camp to graze. I would 100% recommend this program to anybody, it is life changing.

"This volunteer programme has been one of the best things I have ever done"

5 Star Icon

During my stay I was involved with lots of management and maintenance – fixing road signs, clearing areas, carrying out VCIs (Veld Condition Index to assess the veld grass composition), helping with student groups and their activities, going on day and night patrols, assisting with game capture, body indexing animals and so on.

The programme is very well organised. They have set tasks that they need help from volunteers with so you feel like your presence is appreciated and not a burden, but they also let you have a say in what you would be interested in participating in. The staff are incredible, not only are they friendly and welcoming, but they are also remarkably supportive, caring and patient.

This volunteer programme has been one of the best things I have ever done. It not only showed me that conservation was what I wanted to spend my life working on at the young age of 17, but it is also where I have met some of the most inspirational, beautiful, kind, strong and down-right sensational people in my life. It will forever have a place in my heart, along with the incredible people who make it possible.

Wildlife Reserve Volunteer Programme, South Africa

You may also be interested in these projects