You will have the opportunity to make a real and tangible difference to sustainable conservation projects. Not only will you work hands on with meaningful local conservation projects but you will also participate in educating the wider community about conservation and nature – as well as learning a great deal yourself!
By joining this Initiative you will be exposed to all aspects of conservation. You will assist with a variety of conservation projects, including assisting with Elephant Research; working with members of the local community on their nature trail; assisting with a recycling exchange incentive scheme for children; experiencing one of South Africa’s most famous National Parks; and educating the community about conservation and nature
Hunting and loss of habitat has threatened elephant populations for centuries and Ivory has been traded for thousands of years. In southern and western Africa elephant numbers declined dramatically in the 18th and 19th centuries as Europeans began to settle on the continent. Throughout much of the 20th century hunting continued to decimate populations. In 1989 the African elephant was placed on Appendix 1 of CITES which prevented international trade in ivory and other elephant products. This led to elephant numbers recovering in many African countries, however poaching has never completely stopped.
Ironically, another threat faced by elephants is local overpopulation. Elephants are now largely found in protected areas, where they cannot disperse beyond the confines of the reserve and this can lead to a lack of available forage and water.
Due to much of Africa’s elephant population residing either in restricted areas or in captive situations, it is our responsibility to manage populations appropriately and therefore it is of the upmost importance to understand the behaviour of these animals and this is our motivation for establishing our own Elephant Research Project.
We believe that conservation relies on community appreciation and understanding and through our Community Conservation Projects we aim to support local heroes who are passionate about preserving their environment; and educate young people in the community about conservation and nature - by educating the local community we aim to sow the seed of respect and passion for South Africa’s natural heritage.
Joining this Initiative means that you will be helping us with the following Volunteer Projects:
Through this project we initiate and develop meaningful elephant related research as well as providing an opportunity for volunteers to gain valuable research skills.
Your role may include: • Collection of behavioural & Communication recording data • Data entry • Analysis of data
You will be ensuring that our elephants have a cozy and clean sleeping area; helping with preparing their food; and maintaining their night pens. By doing so, you will be preventing viruses and illnesses that elephants can be exposed to.
Your role may include: • Stable cleaning • General maintenance • Food preparation
You will be running fun and easy workshops with local children in order to increase knowledge about conservation and nature which in turn will increase peoples' respect for nature.
Your role may include: • Teaching conservation/nature workshops • Further development of workshops
You will be assisting with the management of the Kayalethu Eco-Trail - an extremely unique and worthwhile community based conservation project which aims to restore the natural vegetation of the area and to create an eco-tourism project that will benefit the community as a whole.
Your role may include: • Planting indigenous species • Removal of alien invasive plants and trees • Mending paths and walkways • Conducting plant and animal surveys
Recycling Swop Shop
You will be providing an opportunity for children to gain an understanding of the value of working for goods through a recycling exchange incentive scheme. Children of 18 years and under, exchange recyclable materials that they have collected for points with for donated items in the Swop Shop such as clothes & toiletries that they may not normally have the opportunity to purchase.
You role may include: • Running of the shop and registering children on the project • Weighing and monitoring recycling Calculating points earned & data entry • Data entry & project awareness in the community
Addo Elephant National Park Experience
After a long history of poaching and human encroachment, today Addo Elephant National Park is home to over 400 elephants in a fenced area of 12,500 hectares – the entire park is over 148,000 hectares. Addo has one of the highest concentrations of African elephants in the world!!
You may have the opportunity to take part in a 3 day (2 nights) excursion to Addo where you will have the privilege of camping in this beautiful National Park (Please note this excursion is only guaranteed on 4 week plus placements).
Your role may include: • Collection of data relating to Elephant Research Project • Having an awesome safari experience!
Who should apply?
Specific qualifications are not required, although this Initiative would definitely be of interest to and benefit those studying or working in the field of conservation. Volunteers need to have a passion for conservation and nature and a love for working with the community. Volunteers need to be hard working, mature, motivated and able to show initiative. Good health and physical fitness are also required. Volunteers also need to be confident with speaking English.
You will be picked up from the house in the morning by one of our coordinators or drivers and given clear instructions on the day’s activities ahead. You will have received full training on any projects that you will be involved in and given the necessary resources. We will then drive to the project that you will be involved in and start our work. The day’s aims vary according to what is on our timetable but will include working at the elephant sanctuary (very early start) and cleaning out stables, helping with maintenance and conducting behavioural research (note: the elephants are going to be released so constant human contact is both dangerous for volunteers and not beneficial to the ellies however, you will have various opportunities to touch and meet them!)
You may also be assisting with our workshops in a classroom with full support...remember, you will receive full training and all ideas are welcome…no formal experience is necessary for most of our work but of course we can use your skills in many different ways. After a hard morning’s work you will be brought back to the volunteer house for lunch (or eat a packed lunch on site before the afternoon’s project work commences).
You will usually have a chance to pop into town on your way back from the projects in the evening and be home in time for a relaxing evening on the deck, followed by a cooked supper.
The Knysna volunteer house is basic but comfortable and cleaned daily by our hardworking House Manager. It is full of character and has spectacular views over the mountains. We understand that the work can sometimes be emotionally and physically draining so we ensure that our volunteers have a place where you can relax and unwind. This way we know that everyone will be refreshed each day to put all their energy into getting the most out of their stay.
The volunteer house is also located within walking distance into the charismatic town of Knysna.
Facilities Include: • Hot Water Showers & Electricity • Communal Kitchen • Communal Lounge Area with TV/DVD Player • Comfortable Dorm Style Sleeping Arrangements • Unlimited WiFi and computer access • Outdoor braai (barbeque) area & Hammocks • Private & Family Rooms Available on Request
We offer the most comprehensive volunteer experience in Africa. We work very hard to make sure that your stay is as stress free as possible so that you can concentrate on your volunteer projects. This also means that once you have paid your contribution, you will have the option to spend very little once you are in the country.
Includes: • Rapid pre-departure support and detailed information • The confidence that every effort will be made to ensure your safety and enjoyment during your stay • Airport transfers from George Airport (on our set arrival/departure days only- please ask us for these dates), OR airport transfer from Cape Town International (dates flexible) to your accommodation of choice (within Cape town) and a FREE return Baz Bus ticket from Cape Town to Knysna (on our set arrival/departure days only- please ask us for these dates)* See branch information pack for Cape Town activity details. • Comfortable, homely accommodation • 3 meals a day • Safe, reliable project related transport • Thorough orientation to the area and the our Team • Training and support on your chosen initiative • A dedicated coordinator to assist you daily • Project support and feedback sessions throughout your stay • Assistance with optional activities and tours • 24/7 emergency support • Assistance obtaining a local SIM Card for your phone • Work T-Shirt (s) • Additional cultural and outdoor activities on Friday afternoons (and some evenings) • Free, unlimited WiFi and computer access in the volunteer house • Post-project involvement, and an exclusive return volunteer discount
Excludes: • Flights and Visas • Travel insurance (necessity!) • Excursions and optional activities on weekends
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We took part in the Build Our Schools Program on our honeymoon and had the most enjoyable two weeks helping out in the Khayalethu community.
We both loved the hands on nature of the work helping out at the Ikamvu Lethu pre-school. One of our favourite moments was seeing the reaction on the ladies faces when we showed them the completed new doors in the pre-school made out of an old benchtop, they were so grateful. It's hard to describe how big a difference little things like mending fences makes to the school and the community.
Knysna is a beautiful place and this organisation does some amazing work in the community. We would highly recommend the Build Our Schools Program to anyone who wants a change up to their desk job and get their hands dirty.
Thanks to the team for a wonderful experience. In the end our only regret was that we could not stay any longer and help out more, hopefully next time.
Tejas - from India
The experience was really good out there, however, I believe it was more so because of the Game Lodge and the co-ordinators there.
The programme offers an opportunity to really watch the Big 5 (except for Leopard) from close quarters. However, it could have beeN better with some more planning and more time with the animals. Most of our time was spent in the maintenance work of the park (which ofcourse I dont mind), but I just wish we could have spent more time with the animals. Thats probably the only critical feedback I have to give.
Its definitely a wonderful programme, especially for people who want to make a career in game reserve management / wildlife conservation.
Liz Acomb - from United Kingdom
We have just returned from an absolutely fantastic month away in South Africa, where we worked at the Game Lodge.
All the staff were fantastic and the whole trip was so expertly organised with a lot of care and attention to detail. We felt at home straight away and would have stayed if our visas didn't run out!
The project itself involved many different activities from tracking cheetah, feeding the baby cheetah, helping vets to dart, capture and release animals and also a lot of general farm maintenance. It was hard work but very rewarding.
Like all volunteer projects, you get out what you put in to it. There is so much to gain from being part of the team. We have learned so much about Arfican wildlife, flora, fauna and the South African culture. Without a doubt I would recommend The Big 5 Wildlife and Conservation Project to anyone who wants to have an experience they will never forget.
John Ainger - from United Kingdom
I had a truly wonderful month on the Big 5 project in South Africa.
The project was very well facilitated and I received exactly what I was looking for - a varied, interesting hands-on experience. Participating in everything from collecting and feeding food to the lions and darting and relocating a male wildebeest, to making a new road on the reserve and learning about some of the plants and insects. I also had a chance to see some of the beautiful Garden Route.
They are a very well organised and professional company and looked after every tiny detail.
Brenton Smith - from Australia
Well where to start I had the time of my life .
Dayne and Roger are two very dedicated people not only with animal conservation but land and people infact all of Africa. This wass showed time and time again with the people they work with and the places I stayed and the people and animals they are helping. It was all happy and good, I could not have felt safer or been looked after better everything transport food, people, and projects.
I would not only highly recommend them but strongly suggest any one who really wants a special experience in every way contact them and you will not be disappointed
Georgina - from Australia
For several months i had been looking for a project in South Africa to incorportate into my travel plans. When i found the Rasta Eco Project I knew that was what I wanted to do. As a teacher of conservation and also operating a business doing restoration work, this suited me perfectly.
I spent 2 wonderful weeks assessing, advising and working removing alien weed species, (australian species). (At home I remove South African weed species and this provided me the income to come to South Africa and remove Australian alien species!)
To work on the Khayalethu River Trail was a life changing experience and i was welcomed by all the Judah Square Community and made many wonderful friends. Working with Brothers Maxi and Gene I had the truly enriching and positive opportunity to share and exchange knowledge and information. I was inspired and humbled by the dedication of the community in creating the trail, building the information centre, restoring the Fynbos and environmental education for the future generations.
A real grassroots project which can only benefit the community and the people who visit. Jah Bless!