Carnivore conservation research

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founded in 2015
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Coordinator | Hough
Coordinator | Hough
We collect field data on large carnivores in private reserves to inform conservation-sensitive management policies that promote human-carnivore co-existence. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

Research & Management:

The best wildlife management is driven by data and evidence. We have recently become involved with the management of a wildlife reserve and are becoming further integrated into the reserve management system as we collect ecological information to optimise management to ensure healthy and functional living systems for endangered species, especially carnivores such as cheetah, leopard and brown hyaena.

Our research focus in this system will be based around the questions and considerations that arise from management interventions in wildlife reserves, along with human impact and management of populations. We are especially interested in game densities and distributions and their relationship to natural predators (such as leopards and cheetah) in this system. Human-wildlife conflict poses a major threat to many species of large carnivore. Through data collection we aim to inform management decisions that promote the coexistence of large carnivores with human livelihoods.  

We also have expertise in the ecology of small mammals and are keen to explore further these often overlooked species groups.

We are keen for more experienced volunteers to develop their own research projects and will provide academic support prior to going into the field for volunteers who wish to devise their own projects.

Teaching & Learning:

We have developed extensive university-level and general interest lecture series covering topics such as conservation theory, game farm management and wildlife protection (anti-poaching), and research techniques. These subjects can be tailored depending upon the interests and expertise of the volunteers. We are always happy to discuss research and management in more detail and further discuss our own academic research or provide support to volunteers planning their own research projects and dissertations. 

We are a field-based project with a focus on being in the bush. We train volunteers in how to safely work in big-game areas, and include practical skills training such as tracking, and bushcraft. There will also be the opportunity for sleeping out under the stars in the bush.  

The volunteers’ responsibilities:

The responsibilities of the volunteers will involve data collection for reserve management and research; we are establishing long-term monitoring of game and predator populations on the reserve, monitoring of vegetation plots, along with additional surveys of birds and small mammals. These are field-based activities whereby teams of volunteers (always led by qualified guides and instructors) record information (such as tracks and signs, and visual sightings) throughout the reserve. As the project progresses we will also include specifically targeted projects such as behavioural observations and camera-trap surveys.

There will be duties of data entry and management, and for those volunteers that are interested opportunities to engage in data analysis.

Volunteers will also have the chance to participate in reserve management activities such as bush-clearance, road construction, and fence maintenance. We know volunteers' strengths and interests vary, therefore we will provide a full range of management and research activities which the individual groups will then be able to customise depending upon their interests.

Prior to project commencement we will be available to discuss volunteers' aims and objectives for their time in the bush, from that and discussions during the orientation period in the bush we will aim to custom design the learning and experience outcomes of the course.

Typical day

A typical day:

Our programmes are based around the interests and objectives of our volunteers. In a typical project during the orientation phase volunteers will decide upon their programme activity roster. Therefore this a taste of what a day may look like.

0500-0530: Rise early before sunrise. Check vehicle, prepare research equipment (GPS, binoculars, ID guides etc)

0600-0900/1000: Sunrise game-transect and spoor (track) surveys.

1000-1100: Breakfast

1100-1200: Data entry of the morning survey.

1200-1300: Conservation theory or bushcraft lecture

1300-1400: Free time and equipment preparation for afternoon work.

1400-1430: Lunch

1430-1600: Reserve management work

1600-1800: Specific research project e.g. Behavioural observations of game at water holes.

1800-2000: Dinner

2000-2200: Night-time predator surveys.

Free-time activities

We are based in a remote but comfortable location in the South African bush, our activities are therefore primarily based around outdoor pursuits. We provide volunteers with transport into a small local town for a day each week where they may use local shops and bars. 

We enjoy social time in camp and make very tight-knit groups and close friends. After field-work volunteers will be free to enjoy the facilities of our beautiful lodge including a swimming pool, games room (with darts and pool table), and a braai (fire-pit) area. Volunteers are welcome to bring acoustic instruments (guitars, drums, banjo etc) to complete the perfect experience around an evening fire in the bush. 



In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 06:00 - 18:00

What's Included

Services by Conservation Research WCRS-SA
  • Transport from and to OR Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg)
  • All meals
  • Lodge/cabin accommodation (inc. swimming pool & games room)
  • Research, bush-craft & management training
  • Field research
  • Game-drives
  • Weekly transport to town on off-day
Airport Pickup at O.R. Tambo International Airport
We provide scheduled transport from OR Tambo airport on the first morning of the project and return at the end. Transport is by private bus associated with the project. The drive time is approx. 6 hours from Johannesburg. 

We recommend that volunteers schedule their flights with enough time so that they are able to make the transfer with time to spare.
We are able to recommend and arrange accommodation for volunteers for the night prior to the transfer.  
Accommodation is in a comfortable bush lodge with swimming pool, games room, and kitchen.

Our rooms are double occupancy wooden bungalows, and lodge dorm rooms for larger groups.

There is also the opportunity to sleep out in the bush.  

Gender separate bathrooms are in blocks close to the accommodation. 
Dorm Room Bungalow Camping
Food & Beverages
We provide 3 good meals a day, with cooked dinner in the evening.
Volunteers will cook for the group on a rotating schedule.
We are able to accommodate a variety of diets (vegetarian, vegan) but please check with us if you have food allergies. 
Our food has a genuine South African influence and we are keen that volunteers try traditional food such as bobotie, braai-grill, and potjie. 
Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg. We assist you to find cheap flights to South Africa.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for South Africa provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in South Africa you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for South Africa.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

We welcome volunteers throughout the year for stays of over 4 weeks. Programmes start on the first Saturday of the month and run a minimum of 4 weeks.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
4 - 30 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
4 weeks (min. stay)
$ 2,000
5 weeks
$ 2,500
6 weeks
$ 3,000
7 weeks
$ 3,500
11 weeks
$ 5,500
19 weeks
$ 9,500
30 weeks (max. stay)
$ 15,000
Average fees
$ 500 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Conservation Research WCRS-SA will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Conservation Research WCRS-SA during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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Carnivore conservation research

We collect field data on large carnivores in private reserves to inform conservation-sensitive management policies that promote human-carnivore co-existence.


from $ 2,000
see price table
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