Everything you need to know
Zululand is recognized as one of the most biodiverse wildlands in Africa, with much of it declared a World Heritage Site. Conservation volunteers work across 5 unique parks – most of them nationally proclaimed reserves. For every 2 weeks that you join us as a volunteer, you have the opportunity to live and work on a different park. Our work focuses on endangered and priority species including the African Wild Dog, Cheetah, Rhino, Lion, Elephant, Leopard and Vulture.
R15,700.00 Every following 2 weeks
Our Endangered Species Monitoring Project is now open to international travelers! Please see our Stay Safe COVID-19 Protocols
Wildlife ACT is proud to have initiated 5 project sites on various wildlife reserves across Zululand, South Africa. The Zululand ecosystem is among the most diverse and productive wild lands on the planet, yet amid its gallery of wildlife, conservation efforts face tremendous challenges, and we need your help. Zululand makes a dramatic backdrop to our initiatives, as it is a place of majestic beauty with cultures as diverse as its landscapes. Zululand is a rare place with age-old cultures and traditions, yet it is the birthplace of wildlife conservation in Africa, where the rhino was saved from certain extinction 60 years ago.
For every two weeks that you join us as a volunteer, you have the opportunity to live and work on a different park. Volunteers can also select these projects in conjunction with the Zululand Leopard Census. Most of our volunteers who come for more than two weeks spend two weeks on the Leopard Census project and then do a multiple of two weeks sessions on our other project sites in Zululand.
What Will I Do?
Zululand is considered by many as the heartbeat of Africa and the birthplace of conservation in Africa. The African bush is such a dynamic and ever-changing environment in which to work and our movements and activities are entirely regulated by the animals that we monitor.
A typical day as a conservation volunteer:
- You’ll get up early in the morning and bundle onto the back of our open 4×4 vehicles and head out on a monitoring session along with your wildlife monitor and the other wildlife conservation volunteers (max 5).
- Your wildlife monitor will have specific animals he or she needs to monitor. Radio telemetry is used to locate the animals with tracking collars. You will be properly trained to use the telemetry equipment and after a few days you’ll be doing the telemetry tracking yourself.
- Once you’ve located the animal you will map the sighting using a handheld GPS device and update identity kits if necessary. You’ll also need to document behavioural notes used in our research. The species we monitor include critically endangered species such as the African Wild Dog (Painted Dog), Cheetah, Black Rhino and Vulture. We also do incidental monitoring of focal species such as Elephant, White Rhino, Hyena and Leopard.
- We’re usually back by late morning when there will be time to relax, read, write in your journal, have a nap or watch the abundant bird and animal life which occurs around the camp.
- We head out again in the late afternoon and we’re normally back in camp shortly after sunset to start preparing supper. Most meals are enjoyed sitting around the campfire, listening to the sounds of the bush and discussing the day’s activities. After a long day, we’re usually in bed early, excited for the day ahead!
- At least once a week we have a day set aside to input the information we’ve gathered into the computer and make an analysis of the data.
- Wildlife ACT’s conservation volunteers prepare their own meals, and are responsible for general cleaning and maintenance in the camp.
Depending on how long you join the team for and the time of year, you may also be part of darting or 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 activities occur strictly when the need arises and cannot be guaranteed).
‘This is Zululand, Not Disneyland’
We have a saying here: ‘This is Zululand, Not Disneyland’. It’s not always easy and there are many challenges along the way, including long hours and tough work, but it’s one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences you’ll ever have. Due to the nature of our work, we often have to track one animal for an entire day, covering large distances without success – but it’s important that we do it. This is not a safari operation and we don’t want to romanticize the work we do. Our projects enable you to experience what life is like as a real conservationist or wildlife researcher – it’s not always fun or easy. This is real Africa and you’ll contribute to conservation as a real natural resource conservation volunteer.
Training and skills:
All training will be via practical tuition in the field. The skills you will gain are:
- 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 behavior 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; and
- A firm understanding of conservation issues facing endangered species across Africa.
With regards to downtime and leisure activities while you are with us, the nature of the work being done means that the animals need to be located every single day. The wildlife monitor will therefore continue working continuously seven days a week, but volunteers may take the occasional Sunday for an admin day or rest day at the camp. Depending on the daily tasks and activities, volunteers normally have some downtime between morning and afternoon monitoring sessions.
In terms of a potential excursion, you can discuss this with your wildlife monitor as there is an opportunity to visit the coast while you are in Zululand. Please understand that this is naturally dependent on what is happening in terms of monitoring work at that time and where you are placed.
Zululand has much to offer in terms of leisure activities. Please note that should you want to explore the area, you will have to discuss with your wildlife monitor and it will be at your own risk.
St Lucia and Sodwana Bay are nearby popular coastal tourist destinations with plenty to do and see, including whale watching, turtle tours, boat rides, snorkeling, scuba diving, etc.
Africa has over 400 known endangered animal species. Tracking and monitoring of endangered species is a critical step in the conservation of these animals. Many game reserves do not have the capacity to run effective wildlife monitoring programmes. Wildlife ACT provides free tracking and monitoring services to game reserves in Zululand, South Africa, both by initiating, implementing and managing monitoring projects on reserves that don’t have monitoring programmes in place; or by taking over existing monitoring projects on reserves that can no longer fund or manage them.
Wildlife ACT conducts intensive endangered species monitoring work in Zululand, South Africa and volunteers are an integral part of the exciting conservation work that we do. Wildlife monitoring is essential for keeping track of animal movement patterns, habitat utilisation, population demographics, snaring and poaching incidents and breakouts. This valuable information, which Wildlife ACT and our volunteers gather, has numerous management applications, including the planning of successful introduction and removal strategies of priority wildlife species.
This requires our wildlife monitors and conservation volunteers to go out into the reserve every day and find these animals using either VHF tracking equipment or conventional spoor tracking techniques. We also develop photo and illustrated identikits of all the species we help monitor. Our projects have all been approved and contracted directly by the Management Authority of each reserve and national park, to perform critical and essential conservation work for those reserves.
Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP) was established in 1895 and is one of the oldest Game Reserves in Africa. The park is 960 km² / 96,000 hectares and contains an immense diversity of fauna and flora. Due to the size of the protected area, logistically it. . .
uMkhuze Game Reserve was proclaimed in 1912, and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012. It now constitutes the north western section of the “iSimangaliso Wetland Park” (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site). A place of great beauty and high contrasts, uMkhuze’s 40,000 hectares. . .
Situated in Northern Zululand, and adjoining the Mozambique border, Tembe Elephant Park is most widely known for having over 200 of the world’s largest Elephants, which are also the last remaining indigenous herd in KwaZulu-Natal and includes the legendary big “Tuskers.” (Tuskers are elephants. . .
Please note that our conservation work on Somkhanda Game Reserve is largely non-volunteer based but is where the majority of our Community Outreach work takes place throughout the year. At certain times of the year, Somkhanda Game Reserve Management do request a team of. . .
Manyoni Private Game Reserve (previously known as Zululand Rhino Reserve) lies within the Msunduzi valley in northern Zululand. The area falls under the Mkuze Valley Low-veld vegetation type, varying from open Savanna thorn-veld, bush-veld to riverine woodland, characterized by Acacia and Marula tree species.. . .
How Do I Get There?
We collect all arriving participants from RICHARDS BAY, which is the closest Airport. You will have to book your INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT to arrive at JOHANNESBURG, and then book a short internal connecting flight, from Johannesburg to RICHARDS BAY.
For arrival, participants can choose to either fly in to Richards Bay on the SUNDAY, and to then overnight at a B&B close to the Airport, OR to arrive on either of the following flights arriving in Richards Bay on the MONDAY: at 09:15 AM, or at 12:50 PM, if they prefer not to overnight on Sunday.
Flights arriving later than 12:50 on the Monday are TOO LATE for us to collect you!
The transport service will collect participants from the Richards Bay Airport at 12:50 PM on the MONDAY. Please ensure therefore that you book one of the following flights, arriving in Richards Bay at:
- 14:30 PM; 16:15 PM or 18:10 PM on the SUNDAY,
- OR, at 07:25 AM; 09:15 AM; or at 12:50 PM on the MONDAY. (**NO FLIGHTS ARRIVING LATER THAN 12:50 PM WILL BE SUITABLE, ON THE MONDAY.)
Important Note: Please be aware that if you arrive on a morning flight, you will have a few hours to wait until the transport service arrives to collect all arriving volunteers from Richards Bay Airport at 12:50. We suggest you wait in the small coffee shop within the Richards Bay Airport. You will be comfortable and safe there, and they do sell beverages and light meals/snacks so you can sit and read or work on your laptop.
The transport service will drop off participants at the Richards Bay Airport at 11:30 AM on the MONDAY. Please ensure therefore that you book one of the following flights, departing from Richards Bay at:
- 13:10 PM; 15:00 PM; 16:35 PM; or 18:40 PM on the MONDAY of your departure.
Important Note: Please do not book flights departing from Richards Bay earlier than 13:10 PM, as we will simply not be able to get you to the airport in time, from the reserves.
OVERNIGHT OPTIONS NEAR THE AIRPORT:
All 5 accommodation venues listed in the attached document will COLLECT our participants from the Richards Bay Airport, on the Sunday. (This airport collection is included in the listed accommodation price).
These 5 venues have also ALL agreed to transport our participants BACK to the Richards Bay Airport on the Monday – FREE OF CHARGE – thereby making collection quicker from our side. Please make sure to request this service as a Wildlife ACT volunteer, in your booking enquiry with them.
COLLECTION FROM THE AIRPORT:
We will then collect all the participants together, at the RICHARDS BAY AIRPORT, at 12:50 PM, on the Monday. Those participants who choose to arrive on the earlier flight on the Monday, will simply wait at the Airport for the 12:50 collection. (There is a small coffee shop within the Airport, where participants can safely wait.)
If participants book any other accommodation in Richards Bay, they will need to arrange and pay for their own taxi’s to get back to the Airport on Monday.
Participants will need to be at the Airport NO LATER THAN 12:30 PM if they plan to make their own way to the Airport.
When you arrive at Richards Bay Airport you will be collected by an organised responsible transfer company. A Wildlife ACT staff member will be accompanying the transport vehicle to Richards Bay to supervise the collection and drop off, of all the participants. He/she will have a copy of the transport schedule including all your photographs, and so will the driver. They will find you in the (VERY) small Airport: either in the small arrival area or in the little coffee shop within the airport if you arrive early.
All arriving conservation volunteers will be transported by the transfer company to a central meeting point where you will be met by your respective Wildlife ACT monitors, who will then take you into the reserve on the back of a monitoring vehicle. On the Monday of your departure you will be transported back to Richards Bay Airport to catch your departing flight home.
Dates and Costs