During your time on the project, you could visit any of five wildlife reserves, with the ability to experience new surroundings if you volunteer for two weeks or more. Each of the reserves are home to the ‘Big Five’ but depending on the duration of your stay you may find yourself working on a range of animal focuses. A guideline of activities across all five parks can be seen below.
Africa has over 400 known species of endangered animals, and the monitoring of these species is a critical step in their conservation. Monitoring can tell us all about an animal’s movement, their habitat utilisation, their population demographics, and any snare or poaching incidents. As a volunteer, you will act as an assistant to the monitor, aiding them with their daily activities as instructed and learning about endangered species in the process - from wild dog to cheetah, rhino to vulture, there is so much to learn about the animals here in Zululand.
As well as monitoring the animals on the reserve, you will be taught how to map their locations using GPS equipment and telemetry. You’ll also record information on their group composition and behaviours, as well as their feeding patterns, retaining the information for research purposes.
One way of helping the project staff to learn more about Zululand’s animals is to help keep identikits as up-to-date as possible. Take pictures of the animals when out on drives, set up camera traps near the watering holes and game trails, and add all of this information to the identikit as to help with data collection and the observation of the animals on the reserve.
At least one day per week will be spent putting all gathered information into the project’s own computer database, allowing them to analyse all findings: the more the project knows about its animals and their movements, the more they can do to protect them.
Occasionally, you may be invited to help out on additional activities, such as alien plant control, animal releases, collaring, and notching (a form of identity marking on species such as rhino). These activities are not a given and are entirely dependent on necessity; they do, however, come as a real privilege, offering a unique insight into the importance of conservation work.
Please note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is simply a rough guideline.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
You will be met at Richards Bay Airport at 12pm by a project representative, who will then transfer you directly to one of the five reserves on the project site. Meet with your fellow volunteers and take a tour of the site, hopefully spotting members of the ‘Big Five’ along the way. Settle in for the night – you’ve got an early morning ahead of you!
Day 2-14 - Project Days:
Each of your project days will follow a similar itinerary, which you can learn more about in your free project guide. However, you will leave camp every morning at sunrise in an open 4x4 tracking vehicle to locate collared animals on the reserve, observing them and recording data. Later in the day, you may assist in setting camera traps, mapping sightings using GPS, or observing further animal behaviours.
At least one day per week is set aside for data capture and analysis, and the information you gain will be sent along to the local conservation authority, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, and other well-known organisations such as the WWF.
Day 15 - Final Day:
Today is, unfortunately, your last day, and you’ll be transferred back to Richards Bay Airport by a member of staff. Board your return flight home or look forward to commencing your onwards travel plans!
Dates, Availability & Price
To secure a place on this project a deposit of $245 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!
Updates & Outcomes
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.
- posted on 02/10/2018
- by Leanne Sturrock
This World Animal Day 2018, we'll be focusing on South Africa - one of the most conflicted countries with regard to animal protection, conservation and trading. As we discuss why, we look into whether or not unity can ever become widespread across Africa. With a global spotlight on the continent and pressure to improve, maybe there is hope yet for South Africa's most at-risk species to survive.
- posted on 21/09/2018
- by Leanne Sturrock
This World Rhino Day (22nd September), learn about the plight of one of Africa’s most famous and at-risk species. But while white rhinos are something of a poster-child for conservation, it’s important that their Asian cousins are not forgotten - in fact, it is the continents own Javan species which is the most endangered rhino of all.
Read on for some exciting updates from our friends at the Zululand Wildlife Conservation Project, including some close encounters with some of South Africa’s most incredible wildlife species! If this blog leaves you longing to witness rhinos, lions and more throughout South Africa, don't forget to head to our project page to secure your place!
Is this trip for you?
No matter which reserve you work on during your stay, you can be sure that your accommodation will be comfortable and surrounded by beautiful African scenery! Rooms are generally shared on a twin-room basis (there may be times where three people are roomed together), and your bed linens and pillows are provided.
There are flushing toilets, communal showers, solar-powered 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.
Finally, each building has its own kitchen and areas to dine or relax– spend an evening relaxing outside or enjoying a barbeque, and you may just be visited by roaming antelope and baboons!
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.
When Is The Best Time To Volunteer?
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), wildflowers 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 arrive a day early and 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 free transfers to and from Richards Bay airport; and the accommodation information will be available to download from your account once your booking is confirmed.
The transfer to the project site will be at 12:50pm on the Monday (this is a fixed time group transfer and cannot depart earlier or later). Your flight, therefore, needs to arrive no later than 12:50pm.
Your departure flights need to be booked no earlier than 1:10pm to allow you enough time to get back to Richards Bay from the project site – any earlier, and you may miss your flight as the transfer will only reach the airport at 11.30am!
Citizens of most countries, including the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and most of those within the EU, do not need to obtain a visa to enter South Africa and are granted entry for up to 90 days upon arrival. You will, however, need at least 2 blank pages in your passport for the immigration officials to use and your passport must be valid for a period of at least 6 months from your date of entry.
If you are unsure of your individual visa requirements, we recommend speaking to your local South African embassy at least 2 months prior to travel.
Currency and Exchange Rates
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.
What's included in the price of the project?
- A monetary contribution to the project itself
- Transfers to and from the airport
- Full orientation and support from the project managers
- Meals as indicated
What's not included?
- Any flights
- Visas if required
- Wines and spirits