Big Five Monitoring and Conservation

This volunteer wildlife monitoring programme provides a fantastic opportunity to work alongside experienced rangers, learn about wildlife behaviour and assist with data collection, camera trap processing, real conservation activities and sustainable living.

You will have the opportunity to monitor and record data on species such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, white rhino, black rhino, elephants and hyenas in a section of a stunning and pristine South African National Park.

Here volunteers will learn necessary field skills and techniques, using specific equipment (such as radio telemetry, GPS) whilst also learning about flora and fauna identification and issues relating to conservation in the area. The data collected plays a vital role in the conservation and management of the National Park Section in which the programme operates. The data collected is recorded by the volunteers and analysed by the rangers in order to compile a monthly report provided to the Park management, to make informed decisions in terms of maintaining the ecological balance in the ecosystem of the area. The project is located on a 24,000 hectare private game reserve, opening to a National Park of an additional 43,000 hectares to the benefit of the animals that roam free in this large territory.

The area is rich in wildlife and the landscape are absolutely stunning, having a mountain range as a background and a permanent river.

Long terms volunteers might also want to consider studying for a FGASA qualification (minimum 12 week stay is recommended).

A Typical day on the reserve will involve an early drive with refreshments in the bush. It is a very early start, as the carnivores are mainly active during the night and early mornings and also to avoid the heat of the central hours of the day!  Arriving back for a hearty breakfast/lunch, followed by spare time to organise and enter data, partake in various tutorials, prepare for the next drive or just relax. Late afternoon early evening sees another research drive, arriving back at base in the evening, around 19.30-20.00 for dinner in the boma. Prepare yourself for some amazing sunrise and sunsets!


Volunteer Role:

  • Determine and monitor predator numbers including lions, leopards, cheetahs and spotted and brown hyena.
  • Monitor the feeding behaviour, prey selection, kill frequencies, and the ecological impact of lion and other predators in the reserve.
  • Monitor the social dynamics of the reserves resident lion population.
  • Monitor the spatial movements and territories of predators and mega herbivores in the reserve.
  • Develop identification kits for the key species monitored, and determine the numbers.
  • Help with conservation work in the field to maintain the ecosystems balance and re-establish the land in its natural state (i.e. eradication of alien plant species, rubble removal, bush clearing, erosion and fire control, etc.)
  • Assist the park manager and vet with wildlife darting exercises and game capture when necessary.
  • Assist in taking ID photos in the field (a good camera is recommended)
  • Data insertion and camera trap photo processing.
  • House duties on a rota basis with the other volunteers.

Your volunteer work will have a significant positive impact on the conservation policies and practices in a beautiful part of South Africa. The data that volunteers and staff collects goes towards valuable wildlife management reports for the park.

Accommodation: Volunteers live in a comfortable farmhouse in a secluded location. The house contains communal same sex bedrooms. There is also a private room with a double bed and private bathroom, at an additional fee per week (subject to availability). The volunteer house is equipped with solar panels and a solar water pump (power turns off at 22.30, so make sure you have a torch with you). Volunteers are provided with ingredients and are expected to assist in preparing meals for the group and complete house duties on a rota basis. Town trips are every Friday afternoon where you will be able to but extra groceries and personal items needed. On the same evening, you will have dinner at a local restaurant (not included in the programme fee).

Spare time can be spent socialising, reading (a library is available at the volunteer accommodation),taking photos and enjoying the sounds of the African bushveld. If you would like to use your time to further contribute to the programme, you can join the staff members in the office or carry out tasks around the base.

Excursions can be organised on site, and these include: a visit to Marakele National Park, Pilanesberg National Park, a boat trip on the river inside the park.

The programme runs throughout the year with a maximum of 10 volunteers at a time. The minimum volunteer duration is 2 weeks and the maximum is 12 weeks; if you stay for 8 weeks or more you have the option of undertaking FGASA level 1 training. Please contact us for more details.


The volunteer programme runs throughout the year. The minimum volunteer duration is 2 weeks and the maximum is 12 weeks; if you stay for 8 weeks or more, you could be trained on all the FGASA modules and have a chance to complete your Level 1 theory qualification through staff support and independent study.


  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Induction and safety briefing
  • 2 activities per day


  • International Flights and domestic flights
  • Transfers
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Personal items
  • Volunteer activities outside of the project
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas

Arrivals and Travel Information: The programme runs from Tuesday to Tuesday.

Volunteers must fly to Johannesburg OR Tambo airport in South Africa to arrive on a Tuesday, where they will be met by one of the team at 11.00hours. At the end of the stay, volunteers will be dropped off at the same airport at 11.00hours Please make sure your flight lands before 10.15am on arrival day, and departs after 14.00hours. There is also the option to rent your own vehicle and self drive to the project. If you choose this option, please be aware that the car must be kept for the entire duration of your stay as the closest car rental is Johannesburg OR Tambo.