If you want to contribute to the future protection of lions and other endangered species, our lion monitoring and tracking project in South Africa is the volunteering experience for you.

The project

This Big Five research project helps National Park Rangers and reserve managers plan strategically so they can protect wildlife. The project team helps track, identify and monitor the wildlife on a game reserve of more than 20,000 hectares in size. The team tracks and identifies various endangered species, including black and white rhinos, lions, leopards, elephants and many other smaller species.

This project contributes to research into endangered animals to help conserve them, protect them from poachers and keep track of their behaviour and health. With the work of the dedicated team at this project, lions and other endangered species have the best chance of surviving and thriving. Volunteers have the opportunity to make a real difference to the future of these animals, making this a volunteering project to truly embrace.

As a volunteer at this Big Five research project, you’ll assist the team with many aspects of monitoring, tracking and research, so this information can be used to better protect the animals. The information is gathered using a variety of methods that volunteers will get involved in, which includes monitoring drives and walks, as well as anti-poaching patrols. You’ll also use camera traps and photo analysis, and work with the team on using a drone to understand elephant herd structures.

Volunteers also support the creation of maps to establish core territories and home ranges of the animals, helping determine their movement and population densities. You’ll observe and record many aspects of the animals’ behaviour, including social dynamics, feeding behaviour and prey selection, and the ecological impact of the lions and other predators on the reserve. Volunteers also have the chance to use some of the specialist equipment that supports the work, including GPS and radio telemetry.

As well as monitoring the animals, you’ll also take it in turns to help take care of the general running of the project, including cooking, cleaning the rooms, tending to the vegetable garden and plants, and other ad hoc duties.

Location

Limpopo, South Africa

Voluntary work

Analysing animal behaviour, evaluating statistics, animal observations, physical work and general work on the farm.

Programme start

Mondays

Volunteering hours

5 or 7 days per week, from approximately 6am to 10am and 3pm to 7pm

Requirements

Minimum age 18, ability to speak English, travel insurance.

Accommodation

Shared room at the volunteer farm, with a fully equipped kitchen for volunteers to use.

Meals

All meals included.

Airport pickup

Included on specified arrival date.

Donation to the project

Included in the rate.

Training

In-country orientation, briefing at the Big Five wildlife research project.

Support

Pre-departure information, local in-country support and 24 hour emergency support.

In addition, you need to arrange:

  • Flights to Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Travel insurance (necessary)
  • Vaccinations (please contact your GP or a travel medical clinic)
  • Additional recreational activities
  • Return transfer to the airport

Please contact us with your required travel dates.

Duration

2 to 12 weeks.

After flying into Johannesburg Airport, you and other volunteers will be picked up and driven directly to the reserve, which is approximately three to four hours away. After settling in, you’ll receive a full orientation and health and safety briefing. Throughout your stay too, you’ll receive continuous training while you’re out in the bush, to gain an understanding of your field research and the South African flora and fauna.

Bush tracking activities take place in two sessions per day. The early drive departs at 5:30 (6:30 in winter) and returns to base at lunchtime. The second drive departs at 16:00 (15:00 in winter) and returns to base between 19:00 and 20:00. Volunteers can choose a flexible arrangement of volunteering for five or seven days per week. The project also runs a regular programme of lectures, the subject matters of which volunteers can have some input into, where you can learn about different aspects of bush life and the species you’re monitoring.

Volunteers feel a true sense of community and joint purpose at this volunteer project, enjoying the back-to-nature feeling of a reserve not open to the public, and making an important contribution to the future of the wildlife living there.