Big Five Wildlife Management and Conservation in South Africa

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If you love nature, the environment and big friendly giants, then volunteering in Port Elizabeth is for you. This incredibly rewarding ecotourism project involves working at a game reserve where you’ll have the opportunity to work with South Africa's Big 5: rhinoceroses, lions, cape buffalos, leopards and African elephants.

If you love nature, the environment and big friendly giants, then volunteering in Port Elizabeth is for you. This incredibly rewarding ecotourism project involves working at a game reserve where you’ll have the opportunity to work with South Africa's Big 5: the rhino, lion, cape buffalo, leopard and African elephant.

The game reserve is impressive to say the very least. It covers more than 6000 hectares and is situated in the Eastern Cape which lies on the south-eastern coast of South Africa. The region boasts inspiring natural beauty, rugged cliffs and dense green bushland – it’s also known as the Wild Coast, which is fitting considering that you’ll be working with some of the wildest creatures on the planet.

The project's core focus is wildlife engagement, management, conservation and education. The reserve is a great place to relax, take a step back from your busy life and observe nature (and the local wildlife) up close. The fitness requirements are medium to low – expect a slower pace of life! The reserve has a predator educational and rehabilitation centre, which houses endangered and orphaned predators such as the rare Bengal tigers, wild dogs, white lions and many, many more. An elephant sanctuary has also been built and students will get to experience elephants up close on a few occasions. The predator educational and rehabilitation centre and the elephant sanctuary are a great way to observe and learn more about the local wildlife – mating practices, breeding challenges, space limitations, capture and release challenges, government policy, reserve management practices and much more.  

Interesting and exciting things are common place at a game reserve and this is your chance to experience all the excitement whilst contributing to the reserve and getting back to nature. The Game Reserve Rangers are very experienced (up to 20+ years working across this reserve and several others) – so this is your chance to ask questions about a multitude of areas within wildlife management, reserve management, related government policy, breeding, wildlife protection, poaching and of course to learn as much as you can about the individual animals. 

Game drives are common place on the weekly schedule. These game drives are a real education opportunity – they are very tranquil and allow you to feel at one with nature and the local wildlife. You will get up close with most, if not all the Big 5. The Game Rangers are very experienced and will manage your safety and also teach you about the animals, their environment, challenges in managing the reserve, the animals' engagement with humans, conservation practices, breeding, health of the animals, how much area or space each animal requires, feeding  / hunting requirements of each animal, management of tourism and visitors to the reserve – and much more. This is really an education focused program with experienced rangers who can give you great insight into South African wildlife – and the complex nature of humans existing alongside wild animals. 

Project Details:

  • Project Activities: Caring for animals, track building, building / maintaining animal enclosures, re-building roads and small bridges, game drives – observing and learning from the Game Rangers, animal education, conservation education, wildlife and game management education, vegetation rehabilitation, planting, management of invasive plant species, fencing and monitoring animals. Game drives and observing the local wildlife and drawing on the many years of experience the local Game Rangers can offer is one of the focus areas. 

  • Working Hours: 7.30am to 4pm.

  • Project Availability: All year around. Placements start on a Monday.

  • Location: Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

  • Project Duration: 2+ weeks.

  • Support: 24 hour support from onsite coordinator.

  • Excursions: There are many excursion that students can look to engage with over and above what’s included in the standard program. Students arrange for all additional excursion (and pay for these) direct with local travel providers. The Reserve will be able to offer some advice but does not offer a travel / tourism booking service. Get up close and personal with the Big-5 on safari, float over ancient mountains in a hot-air balloon, surfing down the face of massive sand dunes in the desert, canoe through impressive gorges and valleys, dive with sharks off the coast, or take time to wine, dine, shop and relax – you can do it all in South Africa.

  • See: www.southafrica.net

  • Min Age: 18+. Police check required.

  • Language: English

  • Note: This project fills up quickly between June – July each year. If you are considering this time period, please submit your application well in advance!