Volunteering In South Africa
African Insight Academy (AIA) offers a selection of South African volunteer programmes, based on the same scheduled arrival and departure dates as the intern programmes. The aim of the volunteer projects is to give applicants a better understanding of game reserve management, ecology based projects, conservation and wildlife management. It is possible to combine these volunteer programs together giving you a rounded experience in all three fields.
Volunteers will be trained and thereafter responsible for ongoing field data collection on a range of research and monitoring projects. Ongoing projects currently include:
- 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.
In addition, interns will be trained to facilitate academic field trips and Science on Safari programmes.
The goal of wildlife conservation is to ensure that nature and wildlife will be around for future generations to enjoy and also to recognise the importance of wildlife and wilderness for humans and other species alike.
On this wildlife conservation volunteer programme, you will get involved with current intern projects by assisting in data collection, analysis, physical labour and identification. Other activities will include the likes of road clearance, road fixing, fence maintenance, alien plant management, priority species monitoring and data capture on all things from small to large mammals. All of the data you collect by either research or monitoring will contribute to the ongoing management decision making, whilst the physical labour tasks completed will benefit the reserve hugely in the future.
On this community volunteering programme, you will bring much needed English skills to an impoverished remote rural community. This will give you a greater understanding of the seemingly simple lives lived by the communities surrounding the reserve. It also shows you the importance of the commodities we take for granted like running water and electricity. You will also have the opportunity to live as the locals do and learn from them as they go about their lives.
The camp is based in the Zululand District of KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. This region is the heart of the Zulu nation, which is the most significant tribal group in South Africa. Our base during this 3 week program is on a community (tribal) owned game reserve and our daily work takes place in rural schools surrounding the reserve.
Freeme Wildlife Rehabilitation Volunteer - ZAR 14,000
FreeMe Wildlife Rehabilitation KZN is a centre which was established in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, just outside Howick. It's objective is to handle the rescue, rehabilitation and return to the wild of all injured, orphaned or sick wildlife from a large area with diverse climate and vegetation zones. You will get involved with everything to do with looking after the current patients, incoming patients and outgoing patients, and the day to day running of an ethical and animal focused rehabilitation centre. No members of the public are allowed to view rehab patients, ensuring all animals have the best chance of going back into the wild as they're meant to be.
The beauty of this project is that there are excellent opportunities to get involved with animal research projects that happen in the area, like the raptor rehabilitation centre and the simango monkey research. These are most definitely once in a lifetime opportunity for animal enthusiasts.
Somkhanda is the perfect habitat for black rhino, however the presence of the alien vegetation species chromoleana odorata along with the ideal climatic conditions, has created the perfect conditions for its proliferation. The result is an incredible amount of black rhino habitat loss, which requires a concerted effort to reclaim. Other areas, which have been reclaimed, require persistent monitoring and follow-up treatment to prevent recolonization. Get involved with not only the habitat restoration but the crucial monitoring and management of this magnificent yet highly threatened species.
Tillietudlem is home to large herds of game such as eland, wildebeest, blesbuck and zebra, not to mention the critically endangered oribi. Other smaller animals include porcupine, aardvark, genets and civets. Predators are represented by healthy populations of black-backed jackal, caracal, serval and both cape clawless and spotted-necked otter. Leopard is also seen occasionally. The diverse range of small mammals is one of the exciting prospects of this volunteer program.
This project is ideal for the more mature volunteer looking for a tranquil and serene escape in one of the most threatened ecosystems in Africa where the focus is not on the big five. This tailor-made program, designed to give an outstanding working holiday experience, focuses on reserve management tasks; including anti-poaching, alien plant management, small mammal monitoring and much more. The accommodation alone is heaven, not to mention the 2000ha space you get to work on and add value to. It is essential to be able to use your own initiative, be passionate about the bushveld and appreciate the role low profile animal’s play in conservation.
2 Week volunteer programme cost
- FreeMe Animal Rehabilitation Volunteer - ZAR 14,000
- Black Rhino Conservation Volunteer - ZAR 12,980
- Tillietudlem Game Reserve Management - ZAR 12,450
1 Month volunteer programme cost
- Wildlife Conservation Volunteer - ZAR 14,800
Summer Camp Counselor (Community Volunteering)
- Adventure, Wildlife & Community Volunteer - ZAR 14,800
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.