Wilderness Conservation & Wildlife Research in South Africa

Volunteers South Africa South Africa

Minimum age 18

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Make a genuine and valuable contribution to the conservation of Africa's wildlife and ecosystems by joining this programme. Whether you are from an environmental background or simply want to make a difference, this programme offers the opportunity to experience the trip of a lifetime. Enjoy watching Africa's large mammals in their natural habitats but also learn about all aspects of the bush. Gain knowledge and experience in different field and research techniques while contributing to the conservation of the ecosystem as a whole.


Here, you are not just a volunteer; you immediately become an active member of the reserve management team. The programme takes on many essential roles, making days as a volunteer interesting, varied and full of opportunities to learn new skills and field techniques. Environmental students can use their time volunteering at Askari to gain course credits but it is not essential to have this background. All volunteers can make a valuable, hands-on contribution to the programme's work and enjoy learning about the different species to be seen around the reserve and the role each of them fulfils in this intricate ecosystem. Volunteers are involved with all projects, monitoring and research throughout their stay. The volunteer house is set in the heart of the reserve from where you can hear the deep roar of a territorial lion, the whooping of a spotted hyaena or trumpeting and grumble of a nearby elephant herd.

Volunteers joining the programme for 4 weeks or longer will begin with an orientation week. While introducing the principles, ethics and work on the reserve, volunteers also get the chance to try 4x4 driving, rifle shooting and learn the many research techniques that they will be using in the field. After training, days continue to be filled with an average of 3 activities starting early in the morning and running all the way through to the evening. Activities rotate between reserve management tasks, wildlife monitoring and specific research projects. Volunteers must be flexible as the team is on call 24/7 to deal with any emergencies that may arise. Some activities may also take place at night such as hyaena call up surveys, sleep outs on the reserve and nocturnal mammal monitoring drives. Projects vary seasonally and may include

Reserve management work

  • Anti-poaching patrols
  • Veterinary dartings
  • Game capture and release
  • Sleep outs in remote areas of the reserve
  • Prescribed management burns
  • Alien plant eradication
  • Rehabilitation of eroded areas
  • Removal of bush encroachment
  • Improvement of habitats
  • Building & restoration projects
  • Reserve clean up efforts – removing old fencing etc
  • Tree protection against elephant damage
  • Road & fence maintenance

Wildlife monitoring & conservation

  • Herbivore age & sex ratio analysis
  • Predator demography
  • Elephant and Rhino monitoring
  • Tracking and monitoring of reintroduced cheetah
  • Reserve record keeping
  • Ground hornbill conservation
  • Bird of prey and migratory bird surveys
  • Predator/prey dynamic monitoring
  • Rare antelope breeding programme
  • Nocturnal species monitoring
  • Reptile surveys and identification