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Category: Volunteering, gap year and career break in South Africa

Get involved with exciting, endangered and priority species conservation work in the heart of Africa. You'll work across up to 4 different Game Reserves.

You'll work with a professional team (supported by WWF amongst others), with Cheetah, African Wild Dog and Black Rhino, as well as priority species like Elephant, Lion, Rhino, Leopard and Buffalo.

Experience genuine conservation work and find out what Africa is really about. This project is very popular and gets booked up quickly, so we strongly advise early booking!


PRICES Please see the Prices Page - prices for all projects and all lengths are listed and you can also choose which currency you'd like to see them in.
Start Dates All year round, starting on every second Monday (see the starting dates schedule below)
Duration From 2 weeks to 6 months or longer (subject to visa requirements). Durations are in TWO-week segments, so it's not possible to do odd numbers of weeks.
Requirements Minimum age 17, no qualifications needed, just a big heart and a love of animals.
What's included
  • Arranging your Programme
  • Full pre-departure support and assistance
  • Payment Protection Insurance
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Transport to and from your project
  • Local in-country team support and backup
  • 24-hr emergency support.
What's not included
  • Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Cost of Visas (if a visa is required)
  • Airport pickup and return transfers (but we can arrange these for you)
Who can do this Project? All projects are open to all nationalities.

Zululand Wildlife and Game Reserve Conservation Expedition


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Work on one, two, three or all four of the Game Reserves, depending on how long your placement is for. You'll gain a wealth of conservation knowledge and experience working under qualified conservation experts and on location out in the bush on a daily basis. You'll experience Africa in a way that no mere tourist can!

You can join the expedition for a minimum of 2 weeks: For every 2 weeks spent on this expedition, you will experience a different game reserve.

  • 2 weeks = you’ll experience 1 reserve.

  • 4 weeks = experience 2 reserves.

  • 6 weeks = 3 reserves. 8 weeks = all 4 reserves.

  • If you come for 4 or 6 weeks you can choose which reserves to join.

The experience you'll gain on this project is varied and fascinating. You'll be the Wildlife Monitor's right hand, assisting with all aspects of their conservation activities. As one of only 4 team members, you form an agile and efficient team, working out in the bush every day:

  • Daily tracking and locating of Priority Species wildlife from an open 4x4 vehicle, via radio telemetry.

  • Mapping the sightings using GPS equipment. You will be taught how to use the equipment.

  • Observing animal behaviour (e.g. Wild Dog pack dynamics) for research purposes.

  • Photographing and creating identity kits for any reintroduced/relocated animals.

  • Periodically setting up camera traps at watering holes and game trails.

  • Assisting with ongoing game counts.


Rise with sun and head out (seated on the back of the open 4x4 tracking vehicle) to locate the Endangered Species animals that the wildlife monitor has earmarked for the morning, using radio telemetry equipment that receives radio signal from the collars which are fitted onto the Priority Species animals.

You will usually be back by late morning to prepare some lunch and have a little time to relax, read, have a nap or watch the abundant bird and animal life which occurs around the camp.

You head out again on the vehicle between 2-3pm to follow up on those animals which were not located in the morning, such as Elephant and Rhino.

You should be back in camp shortly after sunset, to start preparing supper and sit around the fire listening to the sounds of the bush and discussing the day’s events. Usually you will be in bed early, but on some nights volunteers may go out to track species like the Hyaena, which are active at night.

At least once a week you will have an afternoon or day set aside for administrative work: (data capture and analysis). Appropriate supervision and instruction will be provided for all elements of your practical experience.

Activities that you could participate in, that occur when the need arises, are:

  • Radio collaring of animals.
  • Notching (identity marking) of animals such as Rhino.
  • Night-time tracking excursions – for example Hyaenas
  • Relocation or re-introduction of Endangered Species.
  • Assisting with feeding and data recording of animals being held in temporary bomas prior to release
  • Vulture counts and nest surveys.
  • Bird ringing & alien plant control

Please note: Activities such as collaring, relocation/ reintroduction, identity marking, snare removal, tranquilisation for treatment, etc., happens throughout the year, strictly as the need arises. While the project does plan and follow basic schedules, the nature of the work being done here dictates that the animals and their environment are our first priority, and therefore our schedules do occasionally have to be altered due to unforeseen circumstances or incidents, as we have little control over the dynamics of wild animals and their environment.

There is always a lot going on here and you will have the opportunity to be a part of a professional conservation team, make a real difference and contribute towards important conservation work and research in Africa!

You can join this project in multiples of 2 weeks (2,4,6 all the way to 12 weeks). If you stay for 2 weeks you will work on one reserve. If you get to stay for 4 weeks you will get to spend time on 2 reserves, 6 weeks, 3 reserves and if you stay for longer you will get the opportunity to join the team on all 4 reserves.
See table below for start dates throught the year (generally every second Monday)

02, 16 or 30 January
13 or 27 February
13 or 27 March
10 or 24 April
08 or 22 May
05 or 19 June
03, 17 or 31 July
14 or 28 August
11 or 25 September
09 or 23 October
06 or 20 November
04 December

01, 15 or 29 January
12 or 26 February
12 or 26 March
09 or 23 April
07 or 21 May
04 or 18 June
02, 16 or 30 July
13 or 27 August
10 or 24 September
08 or 22 October
05 or 19 November
03 December

Please Note: The project holds 2 staff meetings per year on the following (approximate) dates: Monday 13th & Tuesday 14th July, and Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd November. While the monitors are attending the staff meetings, volunteers will be required to spend these 2 nights away from the monitoring project, together with the other volunteers from all the other monitoring projects. Further information provided on request.

"My overall experience was amazing! A great hands on experience and also a great confidence booster. I was allowed to see a side of conservation that one cannot get from being a tourist in South Africa or a volunteer on other projects. The knowledge given by the management/field team was very valuable and again a great insight into conservation. I can honestly say everything was a highlight, but seeing the Rhino capture was very special." Peter Holland

Zululand Wildlife and Game Reserve Conservation Expedition

Zululand Wildlife and Game Reserve Conservation Expedition
Tracking at dawn

Zululand Wildlife and Game Reserve Conservation Expedition
Collaring a wild dog


Zululand Wildlife and Game Reserve Conservation Expedition
Learning spoors

Zululand Wildlife and Game Reserve Conservation Expedition

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Each volunteer camp is situated within the Reserves on which we work. The accommodation camp is basic but comfortable, with electricity, running warm water and flushing toilet. A bed, mattress, pillows and bedding are provided for each volunteer, but we ask that you please bring your own towels. Please be aware that you may have to share a room with another volunteer during your stay.

There is a separate shared toilet/shower and kitchen, as well as an outside seating and dining area, and a barbecue area where you can sit by the fire under the stars. (With the absence of artificial light, stargazing at the Reserves is phenomenal!). Some camps are partly fenced but some are not, so you can expect visits from Baboons, Monkeys, Antelope, Bushbabies, Elephant and Hyaena on occasion.

The camp has a communal kitchen where everybody joins in to prepare their meals. Everything you need is provided including an oven, stovetop, microwave, solar cooker, and of course a fire, to cook on. Most of the time volunteers take turns preparing meals, or one person becomes the "chef" and the others help with chopping, peeling and cleaning. Basic food items are provided for within our food budget, enough for 3 healthy meals a day, including fruit. We do provide for vegetarians.

"If I hadn't already booked my flight home I don't think they could have made me leave. I met some really fantastic people. I learned a whole range of new skills like how to track using radio telemetry and also learned the basics of Zulu. I really felt as if I was part of a team and truly felt at home ... some of my favourite times were just sitting around at camp having a braai with the people I met while I was in South Africa, even when the braai was interrupted by a bull elephant in our backyard." Luka

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Accommodation at Tembe Game Reserve
Accommodation at Tembe Game Reserve

Accommodation at Tembe Game Mkuzi
Accommodation at Mkuzi Game Reserve


The best advice you'll get from us is to try to see some of the country while you're in South Africa. It's big (huge!) and each different region is exciting and very, very beautiful. Cape Town is probably the most beautiful city in the world (I can say that, I grew up there :-)  KwaZulu-Natal comes a very close second, albeit very different. Knysna is where South Africans go on holiday, which gives you some idea of how lovely the region is.

KwaZulu Natal is renowned for its Game Reserves and traditional Zulu Culture
: The attractions in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) range from vibrant cities to the gorgeous Land of a Thousand Hills, from tranquil beaches to outstanding Game Parks and Nature Reserves. These are just some of the sites you shouldn't miss:

  • Big Five Game Reserves (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino - and lots more, of course) and Travellers volunteers are able to work in many of them, including Tembe and Mkhuze.
  • Beautiful St Lucia Wetlands with its Crocodile Centre and Wetlands
  • Numerous nature parks,
  • Fantastic beaches for swimming and diving. The beaches are truly golden.
  • Lively Durban where South Africans go to have fun,
  • The San Art Park for a collection of astounding rock paintings,
  • ... And much, much more!

Durban (Tekweni in Zulu) is the ancestral home of the Nguni people. Africa's bewitching seaside playground in the sun with radiant golden sands and lush sub-tropical greenery. The city has balmy weather all year round, making it a perfect holiday paradise. Durban International Airport is only a 10 minute drive from the City. Sophisticated and cosmopolitan, Durban Metro after dark buzzes with elegant lounges, funky taverns and cozy inns, distinctive local theatre and live music, and trendy clubs, pubs and discos. This is nightlife in a modern, authentic African metropolis!

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Around the camp fire