If conservation research in Africa is on your bucket list then look no further! This project is contracted to a Nature Reserve - which is part of the Greater Kruger Area , and open to Kruger National Park - to provide ecological input and strategic ecological management over the entire reserve. Therefore, volunteers are necessary to assist our field technicians with their daily work. A fantastic opportunity to assist with African Conservation efforts no matter your back ground.
This project offers a unique and incredible experience of the African bush for inexperienced volunteers as well as qualified or studying students and interns. Living and working at this project means that you gain real exposure to a functioning open wildlife habitat system.
The project is run by a small but dedicated team of researchers who are headed by the warden of the nature reserve. Research forms a big part of the project and contributes to the overall management of the Reserve. Most of your days are likely to be spent out and about giving you the opportunity to see wildlife of interest. The project’s focus shifts depending on the current needs of the Reserve.
Research programmes and other activities:
Please note that the project has continuous and on-going projects that are conducted on a day to day basis as well as annual research projects that are conducted at specific times of the year. For a full list of current research and maintenance programmes please contact us!
Volunteers will be assigned research projects on a rotational basis to provide and ensure exposure to all current projects. There will be no option to choose. During this time, interns and staff will educate volunteers in their area of study. Volunteers will assist their mentor with preparations, all data collection, data entry, research and reports. This is essential for consistency in the research regime.
Africa provides an ever-changing environment, power failures, water and fuel shortages, temperature fluctuations and other uncontrollable/unplanned situations do occur. You will need to remain flexible, understanding and good-humoured. “African time” can be difficult and frustrating for those who are used to a very structured life, so this is something to keep in mind!
At times some staff may be required to take part in urgent reserve activities, which may not be suitable for volunteers to take part in. Please remember that during your time on camp, the staff have a responsibility to ensure your health and safety and this may mean that you cannot always accompany them in some of their duties, please do not take this personally.
Environmental Education Project
Environmental education lessons are conducted at 10 local schools surrounding the reserve from Monday to Friday, excluding school holidays. Lessons involve teaching about nature and conservation as part of our anti-poaching initiative. Volunteers will be required to teach the children about their home country, its wildlife and conservation struggles. Outside of the school term, 5-day holiday programs are held within the reserve for all children of staff working within the reserve. Volunteers will be required to assist with lessons preparation, teaching and supervision of the children.
First Female Anti-Poaching Unit
This unit, of which the majority are females, focuses on visual policing and community upliftment. Snares are wire traps set by poachers in the hopes of catching antelope for their meat, however this is a very non-selective way of poaching and all wildlife, including the big 5 can become injured by these traps. The anti-poaching unit conducts regular sweeps to find and destroy these traps. When possible, volunteers will join the ladies on these sweeps.
Working days are Mondays to Saturdays, in which the various aspects of the programme are carried out. After an early breakfast you’ll head into the bush (approx. 07:00-08:00 am) and head back to camp around 04:00 pm.
Mondays: Town trips to Hoedspruit, in order to save resources such as fuel, are limited to one day a week (generally on a Monday) unless in the case of an emergency. All volunteers and staff alike are to purchase anything needed for the week or drop off or pick up laundry on this day.
Sundays: Involve the cleaning of camp and vehicles by interns and volunteers as allocated by the cleaning rota. The kitchen, bathroom and other communal areas will be cleaned daily, as allocated by the rota. All chalets will be kept clean and tidy, daily by the current resident.
The camp consists of basic but functional accommodation in the form of chalets, an open-air Lapa/Communal area, kitchen and open air bathrooms. The camp is not a lodge and there is no bar or swimming pool or air conditioning. It will however, offer you an authentic bush experience! Chalets are brick built and have a thatched roof, which should keep them nice and cool! They are lockable but care should still be taken with any valuables you bring to camp. The chalets have been arranged in a semi-circular formation around the Lapa/Communal area and are closer together for safety purposes, however volunteers are still able to maintain privacy. The bathroom facilities in camp are open air with a modest reed screen. There are flushing toilets and a shower, for cold water only.
The camp is ‘Open’, which means that the local wildlife can move through freely, should they choose to do so! Elephants, lions, leopard, hyena and rhino have made a number of appearances at camp. The elephants at times are particularly interested in the plumbing! This information is not intended to alarm you but to make you aware of the realities of life in a purposely designed open bush camp environment.
Volunteers are expected to launder their own clothes while in camp and will be able to do this using the facilities at their chalet. Each chalet has a tap and cement basin for this reason. Clothes can be cleaned in town at the local laundrette (At your own risk), but this can take a week to be returned! All launderette costs and/or washing powder is at your own cost.
You will be provided with 3 meals per day and have access to tea, coffee and safe drinking water. In the field, snacks in between meals are also provided. All cooked meals are prepared on the open-fire. Ensure you declare any dietary requirements during the booking process.
A separate fridge is available for volunteers to store some personally bought items. Please bear in mind that space might be limited, and it is not allowed to store food in chalets to prevent wild animals from trying to gain access to chalets.
WIFI is available at no extra charge; however, preference will be given to those using this facility for work and or project purposes if the network becomes slow due to high use. There is mobile phone reception at the camp. The project would ask that all volunteers are mindful when using their mobile phones.
The camp runs on a generator and solar power. The chalets have solar lights but no private power outlet. Cameras and smaller items can be charged from the solar-power battery-bank (with the inverter) in the lapa area.
Lights out: will be at 10:00 pm (exceptions are at the discretion of the camp manager). This is to enable the preservation of crucial camp resources and to respect the natural surrounding which everyone is entitled to enjoy.
Code of Conduct:
Please contact us for information regarding programme costs.
To cover any additional expenses for personal/luxury items while at the project, we would suggest that volunteers consider having access to approximately R500.00 per week of your stay and you can purchase these items from Hoedspruit town during the weekly shopping trip.
Group size: maximum of 8 volunteers
Duration: The project has no set start or finish dates, and is therefore flexible. Minimum stay is 2 weeks and you may stay for as long as you would like. We recommend a stay of 3-4 weeks to allow you to really experience all facets of the project.