- posted on Nov 20, 2015
- by Connor Whelan
Read all about Tristans adventures in South Africa on the Zululand and Great White Shark Projects!
Join critical conservation work in Africa with the iconic 'Big Five' species, with a focus on rhino conservation.
Regarded as one of the most biodiverse wildlands in all of Africa, Zululand is home to a plethora of phenomenal wildlife species: antelope, rhinos, big cats and more can all be found roaming the region, and much of its vast plain has been declared as a World Heritage Site. Yet certain risks, such as the poaching crisis, threaten the very existence of Zululand’s ecosystems.
The Zululand Wildlife Conservation Project is committed to the monitoring and re-introduction of threatened wildlife species and is the only conservation organisation in South Africa to boast support from of the WWF, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the Wildlands Conservation Trust, and other world-famous conservation authorities.
In the past three years alone, the project has managed to re-introduce over 200 endangered black rhinos to the wild, as well as relocating an additional 370 animals across a variation of species (including wild dogs and big cats.) On top of this massive achievement, the project closely monitors the animals that it once cared for, using tracking devices to follow the animals and ensure their lasting safety – a method which extends not only to rhinos, but to all endangered and priorities species encountered.
Despite the impressive efforts of the project team, they still need more support, and as a volunteer you will assist with day-to-day conservation activities such as mapping and observation. Each aspect of this project enables you to contribute to the research of animals found in Zululand, as well as promising a wildlife experience like no other.
Witness Zululand’s unparalleled scenery and a myriad of spectacular wildlife species whilst aiding vital conservation efforts as part of an intimate group of volunteers on one of South Africa’s very best conservation experiences.
The reserves on which you will be working include the 96,000 hectare Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and Mkhuze Game Reserve, a 40,000 hectare park (recently designated a 'Big 5' park).
You may visit the KwaZulu-Natal reserve, where you will take part in the monitoring of wild dogs in between performing camera trap work.
Lastly, you may work in the Tembe National Elephant Park on the border with Mozambique, where the 'world's biggest elephants' reside. Please note that visiting this park depends on your length of stay on the project. For example, if volunteering for two weeks, you will be based at one reserve. If volunteering for four weeks, you will visit two reserves, etc.
Please note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is simply a rough guideline.
To secure a place on this project a deposit of £195 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!
This project experience is unmatched in terms of the diversity of species. The efforts made on a daily basis by both the project staff and volunteers are indispensable in the continued protection and on-going conservation of all manner of iconic and crucial species in South Africa (including the conservation of the critically endangered black rhino).
The work carried out by this project is cast over a number of reserves, which means that volunteers working on the project for more than two weeks will have the opportunity to experience a variety of conservation work (including rhino conservation), as well as have an impact on the continued existence of numerous Big Five and game species throughout the wider Zululand region.
What's more, this is also the only volunteer program in in Southern Africa that is supported by and works with high profile organisations including WWF, Endangered Wildlife Trust, Wildlands Conservation Trust, Wild Dog Action Group and Black Rhino Range Expansion Project to mention but a few. This really is an excellent project supporting incredibly worthwhile conservation work.
Read all about Tristans adventures in South Africa on the Zululand and Great White Shark Projects!
Over at the Zululand Conservation Project, the generous and hard working time strive to protect the endangered species of South Africa. They work closely with Panthera to set up camera tapping, as this is best and most responsible techniques with which to monitor leopards. Check out some of the majestic big cats that Zululand and Panthera have been working hard to capture over the past 45 days!
Your accommodation is located on the reserve – spend an evening relaxing outside or enjoying a barbeque, and you may just be visited by roaming antelope and baboons! The volunteer house itself comes complete with a shared living/eating area, as well as a kitchen with appliances such as an oven, stove, microwave and solar cooker.
Rooms are shared on a twin-room basis, and your bed linens and pillows are provided. There are flushing toilets, electricity, and warm-running water onsite, but do please be aware that sometimes the water does run cold from time to time. We also recommend that you bring your own towel.
Enough food and drink is provided for volunteers to cook for themselves three times a day, so why not work alongside your fellow volunteers to prepare some tasty meals? The project is able to cater for dietary requirements but do please let us know of your needs well in advance so that suitable ingredients can be bought in for you. The project aims to be as environmentally friendly as possible, never purchasing tinned tuna and preferring to use game venison whenever possible.
Much of the project activity is undertaken from a tracking vehicle, but there is still an element of manual work in-between. There are also regular walks in order to track species, so a moderate level of fitness is necessary. No specific skills are needed – all we ask is that you’re able to work as part of a team, and that you have full commitment to the cause.
The vaccinations required will depend on your medical history. We recommend that you consult with your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.
Zululand has a subtropical climate, as it is situated in the Northern part of the KwaZulu-Natal province, bordering Mozambique. The weather is generally mild and dry between the months of June and September, meaning vegetation is not so dense and that visibility of animals is better.
In June and July, temperatures very rarely drop below 10-15°C (50-59°F) overnight, and by midday the days are generally warm and sunny. By August/September, temperatures are around 20-25°C (68-77°F) at midday and around 15-20°C (59-68°F) at night. October to March is summer, meaning temperatures can rise to a very hot 30°C. Overnight temperatures also remain at around 25°C (77°F).
Summer is also Zululand’s rainy season, which may cause afternoon/evening thunderstorms – this is something incredible to experience in Africa, and very different to the rainy days which we have here in the UK! After the first rains (typically November-time), wild flowers start to bloom, and new grass emerges in a brilliant display of green. This does, of course, attract plenty of young animals to the region – impala, lambs, warthog piglets and wildebeest calves can all be spotted at this time of year, so if you’d like to see the arrival of new life in Zululand, summer is the perfect season for you.
Finally, Autumn falls between April and May, bringing with it warm weather in both the day and night times. While animals are still visible, wild dogs are less visible due to settling into their dens to have pups. The pups generally emerge from their dens 4-6 weeks later, so this could be a great time to witness some of South Africa’s most beautiful animals take their first steps into the world!
The easiest way to get to the project is to fly into Johannesburg O.R Tambo Airport, booking a connecting flight into Richards Bay. It is advisable to spend a night in a B&B close to Richards Bay Airport, transferring back to the airport on Monday for your transfer to the project. We can recommend places for you to stay which include transfers to and from Richards Bay; please speak to a member of our travel team for more information.
A project representative will meet you at the airport at 12pm – please ensure that you are there on time to meet them, as it is best to arrive back at the reserve by nightfall. Your departure flights need to be booked no earlier than 2pm to allow you enough time to get back to Richards Bay from the project site – any earlier, and you may miss your flight!
If you would like help booking your flights, please visit our flights page and fill out the form. A member of our team will get back in touch as soon as possible with a suitable quote.
UK passport holders (as well as holders of Australian, American, Canadian, and most other EU passports) do not require a visa for South Africa. You will be issued a 3-month permit upon your arrival at no cost but do ensure that the correct arrival date and length of time in the country is entered onto your visa at immigration. Please note that visas are of the volunteers own responsibility, and that requirements specific to your own country need to be checked. Please consult your South African embassy.
The currency in South Africa is the Rand. The exchange rate is around 1 ZAR = 0.06 GBP, 0.1 USD, 0.07 EUR. Please note exchange rates are subject to change.
Every moment was meaningful - but getting to know the Wild African Dogs and seeing them engage and socialize close up was magical. It really hit home how vulnerable these priority species are and how important the work of the projects is.
Deborah High, 2017
The highlight of the trip my daughter and I took was on the last day. We watched an adult White Rhino challenge an adult Lion. The Rhino somehow knew this lion was not going to attack him, so the rhino stood his ground and even made the lion nervous enough to move to another shade tree. This particular lion had been injured late last fall while hunting a Water Buffalo. He is on the mend and looking a lot healthier than he did last October(according to our wildlife monitor).
Liza Eng, 2017
1 - the people - amazing and inspiring 2 - seeing an elephant suckling it's mother. Seeing two juvenile leopards. 3. Seeing a lion hunt from beginning to end. Discovering three sub-adult lions and a cub which they didn't know about. It was genuinely an experience of a lifetime for me and I can't wait to do something like this again.
Sonal Hirani, 2015
"The time I spent here was one of the most memorable and incredible experiences of my life. I had always dreamed of going to Africa to work on a game reserve and this is the real deal! Their motto, 'Real Africa, Real Conservation' absolutely sums up their project. As a volunteer you are put to good use and help with the vital conservation work the team are doing. I learned how to use the radio tracking equipment that is used to locate animals such as the African Wild Dog packs, Cheetahs and, on a night trip, Hyenas, and along with another volunteer, I picked out photos that would be used to identify the endangered black rhinos and elephants we saw in the future. You see some of the most amazing animals on our planet and know that you are genuinely helping to conserve them. One of the most unforgettable moments I had was watching two adult bull Elephants washing and playing in a water hole. Watching how the older Elephant interacted with the younger male was incredible and at one point the older Elephant came within 10 metres of our vehicle! If you are thinking about going, I would say go for it! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you should not miss! I will never forget my time in Africa, and I am planning on returning soon".
Emma Ivenson, 2013
"I had a really great time on the Zululand project. I was Mkhuze for two weeks, and wish I could have stayed longer! The staff are very friendly, and the wildlife monitor I had was fantastic. He was really fun and taught me so much! The best part of it is how hands-on it is; you're with the animals everyday and I really felt like we were helping them! The highlight of my two weeks was darting a young cheetah, who we fitted with her first collar so we could monitor her. I recommend this project to anybody who wants an exciting, hands-on experience with African animals. I can't wait to come back!"
Hannah Margolis, 2013
If you have any questions about this project or would like help finding the perfect project for you then please feel free to give us a call or send us through your enquiry and we will be happy to help.
Nikita & team.