If you have ever wanted to help ensure the most renowned wildlife species continue to thrive outside of captivity, volunteering at this Big Five game reserve in South Africa is the volunteering experience for you.

The project

This private game reserve in the Eastern Cape provides a truly African experience for visitors to the region. Home to lions, elephants, Cape buffalo, leopards, rhinos and many other wild animals, the focus of this game reserve is about protecting and conserving wildlife. As well as having a once in a lifetime experience by spotting the Big Five in the wild, visitors to the reserve are encouraged to learn about the issues facing the wildlife of South Africa today.

As well as safari tours, wildlife walks and interaction opportunities with elephants, the reserve runs an education and rehabilitation centre which is home to endangered and orphaned predators such as Bengal tigers, cheetahs and white lions. Protecting such a variety of wildlife in the great South African outdoors is no easy task, meaning volunteers are depended upon to keep these wild animals and their habitat happy and healthy.

As a volunteer at the Big Five game reserve project, you’ll work in a team of other volunteers to get a variety of tasks done across the reserve. These activities vary depending on the weather and time of year, but include everything from lion tracking, game counts and game capture, to planting trees, maintaining vegetation and patrolling the reserve’s fences. You’ll also help out on game drives and wilderness walks, not to mention the help that’s needed caring for the animals in the education and rehabilitation centre. If that’s not enough already, there’s also a touch farm and horses to take care of too. Volunteer teams rotate to different areas of the reserve, meaning you’ll have a chance to lend a hand at all the different types of activities during your time volunteering here.

Location

Near Grahamstown, South Africa.

Voluntary work

Game counts and tracking, maintaining vegetation, working with animals in the rehabilitation centre, helping on game drives and wildlife walks.

Programme start

First and third Monday of every month.

Volunteering hours

Monday to Friday, approximately 7:30 to 16:30.

Requirements

Minimum age 18, good English, travel insurance.

Accommodation

Same-sex shared dormitories on-site.

Meals

All meals from Monday to Friday.

Airport pickup

Included at specified arrival date from Port Elizabeth (PLZ).

Donation to the project

Included in the rate.

Training

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

Support

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

Airport drop-off

Included to Port Elizabeth (PLZ).

In addition, you need to arrange:

  • Flights to Port Elizabeth (PLZ), South Africa
  • Travel insurance (necessary)
  • Visa (on arrival at airport)
  • Vaccinations (please contact your GP or a travel medical clinic)
  • Additional recreational activities

Starts from €995.

Duration

2 to 12 weeks.

Each day at the Big Five game reserve project will bring new challenges and experiences. Days start early, with volunteering activities beginning at approximately 7:30 and finishing at 16:30 every week day, with a couple of breaks during the day. You’ll pitch in with whatever your team leader tells you needs doing that day, which could be anything from going out with a team to track some game, to interacting with the animals in the rehabilitation centre. All meals are provided and you’ll eat alongside your fellow volunteers, while your accommodation is in same sex dorms.

Your busy weeks are filled with everything that’s involved in keeping a game reserve running, leaving some time for rest and relaxation on Saturdays and Sundays. A schedule of weekend excursions are organised to local towns, with transport and accommodation to these places covered in your volunteering price. If you prefer, you can also stay behind at the game reserve to relax.