Endangered Wildlife Conservation
2 - 12+ weeks
Up to 5 people
2 - 12+ weeks
Up to 5 people
What's the project about?
The project’s mission is to save the planet’s endangered wildlife and wild places from extinction. The dedicated team of conservationists deliver their expertise to local, national and international wildlife organisations. They implement anti-poaching measures; translocate and reintroduce wildlife and monitor endangered and priority species. This project is a truly unforgettable wildlife experience, as you become an endangered species field researcher.
How will I be contributing?
All conservation efforts in Africa face tremendous challenges, so volunteers provide an essential service. You will focus on the intensive monitoring of priority species, including African wild dog, cheetah, rhino, lion, elephant, leopard and vulture. Tracking of endangered species is a critical step in conservation, to keep track of movement patterns, demographics, populations and poaching. Volunteers are based at one of five unique locations in South Africa, and your work is vital to the long-term success of conservation activities.
What makes this project ethical?
Volunteers contribute to some of the most important and exciting endangered species conservation work being done in Africa. You will support the work being done on the ground by conservationists, and gain first hand experience of conservation where it is needed most. The information which volunteers and the teams gather has many applications, including the successful reintroduction of priority species.
Volunteers are essential for wildlife monitoring and tracking, and play a vital role in assisting the permanent research monitors on their conservation projects.
Volunteers are the monitor’s direct assistants, and you will experience what life is like as a African wildlife researcher. You will learn about focus species and other aspects of the African bush, and get exclusive hands-on experience.
One of the focus species is the African wild dog, currently listed as critically endangered – with just 3,000-5,000 left in the wild worldwide. South Africa is home to around 550 of these animals. The team and volunteers monitor around 30% of this population daily.
Your daily activities will include the tracking and monitoring of endangered wildlife, including African wild dog, cheetah, black rhino and vulture. Monitoring of other species such as elephant, lion, buffalo, hyena, leopard and white rhino, will take place on a more ad hoc basis.
- Get involved with active monitoring – where animals are tracked on a regular basis using telemetry and camera traps, or by traditional tracking methods (spoor etc)
- Locate focus animals and once found, record data such as GPS location, group composition and behaviour
- Photo ID of animals and groups to develop identikits for individual animals
- Maintenance of identikits to ensure animals can be easily identified via information and up to date photographs
At least once a week there is a day set aside to input the information you have gathered into the computer and make an analysis of the data. The more that is known about the reserve’s animals, their location, movements and behaviour, the more that can be done to successfully protect them.
Training and skill development
Volunteers will get practical tuition in a number of research and conservation skills while in the field. These include:
- The proper use of telemetry tracking equipment
- The use of hand-held GPS devices
- How to produce animal identification kits
- How to set up and use camera traps to monitor certain endangered species
- How to track animals using traditional methods like the identification and following of animal spoor
- How to collect animal behaviour data and how this data is extrapolated and used to inform and enhance management objectives on these reserves, as well as other reserves across Africa
- A firm understanding of conservation issues facing endangered species across Africa.
Conservation volunteers prepare their own meals (food is provided), and are responsible for general cleaning and maintenance around the camps.
Depending on how long you join the team for and the time of year, you may also be part of the following activities:
- Join the Zululand Leopard Census (enquire for opportunities on this project)
- Darting, trapping and radio collaring of various animal species
- The relocation and re-introduction of game
- Identity tagging of animals
- Setting and checking of camera traps
- Game counts, bird ringing and alien plant control.
(Please note that these other activities occur strictly when the need arises and cannot be guaranteed).
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