Internships in South Africa

Introduction to Internships
Ecology Internship
Conservation Management Internship
Hospitality Internship
Starting Dates
Frequently Asked Questions
Contact Us
Introduction to Internships

Somkhanda Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal is the base for our 3 categories of internships:

Our internships are designed to attract nature conservation enthusiasts, ideally with some sort of scientific background, but this is not essential! We welcome all applications whether you have an academic scientific background or are a "citizen scientist" looking for a deeper and more hands-on conservation experience. Enthusiasm, commitment, determination and the ability to think outside of the box are skills which you will most definitely need!

Our experienced team offer support to ensure all field data collection methods and output are not only sound but have the right platform to be of long term benefit to the reserve, whilst providing the intern with a relevant, educational and inspirational experience. Here are some examples of ongoing projects at Somkhanda:

  • Leopard camera trap surveys
  • Small mammal research
  • Hospitality Management
  • Elephant monitoring and observation
  • Road clearing and fixing
  • Game counts
  • Fence-line maintenance
  • Potential to participate in management activities such as game capture, game introductions and priority species monitoring.

We encourage all applicants to submit a private research project proposal which will be evaluated and approved on a case by case basis, assessed by relevance to management objectives of the game reserve. Depending on the requirements of the project there may be additional costs that need to be covered. 

Animal monitoring is an integral part of Somkhanda's mission, we are always in need of projects to help us capture data on the animal movements and activity whether it's leopard, wild dog, elephant, rhino or buffalo or any other species. 

Go to Volunteering

Ecology Internship

Ecological Research Interns - ZAR 24,300

Ecological Research interns have the opportunity to get involved in vegetation assessments, water management assessments, monitoring/baseline data surveying, bush encroachment and many other ongoing projects. Interns are also given an opportunity to participate in management activities such as game captures and introductions if they occur at the time they are on site.

This internship offers you a unique insight into the research techniques used by a range of professionals and allows you to gain practical experience which will most definitely benefit you and the reserve in the long term. Our aim is to inspire, educate and empower you throughout this internship leaving you with knowledge and experience to help you progress your own future

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Conservation Management Internship

Conservation Management Internship - ZAR 24,300

Conservation managers are the backbone of a game reserve, the ones that keep the effective day to day running of the reserve going. A veritable “jack of all trades” requiring a very wide range of skills and experience including water provision (for people and wildlife), road, vehicle and infrastructure maintenance, fencing, anti-poaching/law enforcement as well as biological management.  They, therefore, require a working knowledge of what ecological and security staff do

This conservation management internship enables you to get involved in the day to day running of Somkhanda giving you a great insight to the challenges of reserve management, conservation management and the skills needed to excel in this field. An inspiring internship with a plethora of projects and options available to explore

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Hospitality Internship

Eco Tourism and Hospitality Intern - ZAR 24,300

This ecotourism and hospitality internship is available to individuals that (i) have completed (or are in the process of) a relevant field of study, (ii) are looking for work experience or in need of practical experience as part of their studies or (iii) are considering tourism as a future career.

On this internship, you will be involved with Lodge management and will assist with day to day running of Kudu Lodge at Somkhanda Game Reserve. You will work alongside the Lodge Manager and will assist with room allocations, reservations and catering demands on the lodge side of the business. However, there will be much more practical experience on sustainable projects within ecotourism and understanding the product as a whole from a providers’ perspective.

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Starting Dates

Starting Dates
The reserve is remote and therefore interns arrivals and departures are coordinated to save on transport costs. Arrival is at Durban International airport and the transfer to Somkhanda Game Reserve leaves at 10h00. Transport is provided to departing interns (free only on the scheduled dates) back to Durban International Airport and will drop interns off at 15h00

2017 Starting Dates

09 January - 31 March
06 February - 28 April
06 March - 26 May
03 April - 23 June
01 May - 21 July
29 May - 18 August
26 June - 15 September
24 July - 13 October
21 August - 10 November
18 September - 08 December

2018 Starting Dates

08 January - 30 March
05 February - 27 April
5 March - 25 May
2 April - 22 June
30 April - 20 July
28 May - 17 August
25 June - 14 September
23 July - 12 October
20 August - 9 November
17 September - 7 December


Intern programmes (3 months per internship)

  1. Ecological Research Internship - ZAR 24,300
  2. Wildlife Conservation Internship - ZAR 24,300
  3. Eco-tourism and hospitality - ZAR 24,300


Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between and intern and a volunteer?


  • Intends to develop skills in a profession
  • Work is taken on in order to learn more about a given profession
  • Can work with universities for credit requirements
  • Contracted arrangement
  • Provides students with skills to help them transition from study to work
  • Focus is on learning – expect to learn skills that will further one’s academic or career goals


  • Driving force is to help out where needed
  • Work is unpaid for the main purpose of benefitting someone(thing) else
  • Does not include academic study or college credits
  • Not bound by a contract of employment but signs a volunteer agreement
  • Tends to focus on service
  • Focus is on service – yet learning skills and about the issues is still very much a part of it as well

How long are the internships?

The standard length is 3 months, however, you have the opportunity to apply for longer providing you get the necessary visa approved, we do not want to limit your learning experience!

How long are the volunteer programs?

Our conservation management volunteer program is for 4 weeks, coinciding with start and finish dates for the intern intake. The Black rhino and Tillietudlem volunteering projects are both 2 week rotations, which you can do 4 weeks in total if you wish and mix and match with the variety of programs we offer.

What will you get involved in as an intern?

Your own designated project will be a focus however, you will assist other intern’s projects as well as relevant reserve and management activity carried out during your stay. It will be useful to have general maintenance skills as well, with some building and creativity required with regards to particular projects you might take on.

What will you get involved in as a conservation volunteer based at Somkhanda?

You are fundamentally a support for all interns and conservation staff. You will get involved in physical labour, data collection, monitoring, maintenance and all sorts of other game reserve management tasks. A working knowledge of basic household maintenance is very helpful but not required.

What will it cost?

Internships - ZAR24,300

Volunteer programs – varies see individual pages for Somkhanda/FreeMe/Tillietudlem

Where will you stay?

There is a dedicated intern and volunteer camp with shared ablutions. The interns reside in two-room tents with proper beds and mattresses, end table, solar lamps, wardrobe, desk and chair.  Volunteer’s accommodation is a one-room dome tent, with bed, mattress, end table and solar lamp. The intern and volunteer camp is walking distance to the intern office and lodge area where much of your office work will take place.

What other facilities are there on site at the intern camp?

The communal areas include a recreation tent with a fully kitted kitchen, outlets for charging electronics, food foot lockers, lounge area. Shared ablutions include flushing toilets, sinks and roofless hot showers.

What hours will you work?

You are in charge of your own time, you need to get your project done and that drives your working hours. Standard practice is 9 hours from 8 am to 6 pm with an hour for lunch. There’s nothing to stop you from starting earlier and finishing earlier or starting later and finishing later.

What time off do you get?

Every week there is a town trip, this day is considered as a day off. Over the weekend all interns and volunteers get involved in the local community cattle dipping which is a short morning, and the rest of the day is treated as off time. You can accumulate days off and take 4 days off in a bulk holiday to enable you to go on other adventures as well, all leave time needs to be approved.

Contact Us

Drop us a mail if you are interested

Internships in South Africa

Facebook Posts

After months of planning and community stakeholder meetings His Excellency Nkosi B. Zulu of Mandlakazi launched phase one of the Sovane Agribusiness initiative. The function was attended by Counsellor S. Dlamini representing Nongoma Local Municipality Local Economic Development, izInduna from KwaDlakuse and surrounding wards (who will be involved in phases 2 and 3) and 100% representation from every household of the KwaDlakuse community.

The project is headed by Cass Consulting, an independent, multi-disciplinary, agricultural and food systems consultancy practice, run by a team of connected, talented and experienced professionals, focused on providing practical and sustainable Agribusiness solutions for Africa. The business model includes the establishment of a BEE operating company comprising of a majority shareholding of a local community agricultural co-operative.

To mark the occasion 3 Tons of Maize seed was donated by Vuna Seed and distributed to the community. The community responded, acknowledging the significance of not only Nkosi Zulu's blessing for this project but also the significance of his visit to KwaDlukuse by presenting him with an Nguni cow to mark the occassion.

Although there is much work still to be done before planting the first crop, the project hopes to have its first harvest by the end of 2018. The project will provide employment opportunities to 100% of households in KwaDlakuse and therefore significantly contribute to the economic upliftment of this community. Economic sustainability at a household level of KwaDlakuse is a significant benefit to the ultimate sustainability of Somkhanda Game Reserve.
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One of the things that our interns are responsible for is African Insight's camera traps at Somkhanda Game Reserve. These camera traps are a great way to find out which species are found around the reserve, and where. As well, they can be used to identify individual animals, and then keep track of their movements. However, camera traps can also have other uses, such as becoming chew toys for Somkhanda's hyenas. Hyenas have a stronger bite than both lions and leopards, two of the Big Five species found here.
It is because of incidents like this that we must take extra precautions when placing camera traps, such as placing them higher off of the ground and using thorny twigs to cover them.
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Our interns helped to clear and burn some old straw, which had been used in restoring our office and lodge roofs. Carefully checking through each pile for wildlife, our team were on the look out for any animals that may have chosen the straw as a home. The piles were then burnt, as the ash can be used to raise the Ph levels, and neutralise acidic soils, which in turn can fertilise plants. ... See MoreSee Less

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Yesterday, we said goodbye to two more interns, Victoria Kearney and Patrick Porter. To say goodbye, our team spent a night at Scotia camp, in the middle of Somkhanda Game Reserve. The reserve’s male lion was heard calling not far away throughout the night, giving our interns a real thrill of camping out in the South African bush. ... See MoreSee Less

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Our interns, and members of our staffing team got a chance to see Somkhanda Game Reserve’s two lionesses relaxing, on a rainy morning, yesterday. The pair were spotted just a short distance away from from a large kudu bull, which they had preyed upon in the early hours. ... See MoreSee Less

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Internships in South Africa
Internships South Africa
Internships South Africa
Internships South Africa