Wildlife Reserve Supporter

Agency
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founded in 2011
Philip
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Coordinator | Philip
Coordinator | Philip
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High­lights

Volunteer with the Big Five in a South African wildlife reserve
Experience the unique chance to work alongside this fascinating wild animals
Enjoy the rewarding feeling of saving South African's wildlife by helping injured or orphaned animals to get back on track
Meet like-minded people from all over the world and build life-long friendships
PMGY’s Big 5 Wildlife Experience is a life-changing experience that allows you to work behind the scenes on a world-class wildlife reserve in South Africa! This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+
Singles
Couples
Groups

PMGY’s Big 5 Wildlife Experience is a life-changing experience that allows you to work behind the scenes on a world-class wildlife reserve in South Africa! It is the ultimate wildlife programme, where volunteers get the opportunity to enjoy hands-on involvement and a rich education in Conservation Management. If you have a real passion for animals and the conservation of endangered species then this is the programme for you.

This fabulous South African Game Reserve is situated on the Eastern Cape and spans over 6000 hectares. This experience aims to give volunteers a holistic experience of life on a game reserve with exposure not only to the majestic Big 5 family but also conservation of all types of fauna and flora – they all go hand in hand.

The game reserve’s education and rehabilitation centre is home to a number of species of endangered predators including lions, Bengal tigers and cheetahs. The dedicated conservation team are committed to the preservation of these elusive creatures by rehabilitating them and releasing them back into the wild, while needing to consider the effects on a managed eco system. The work is exciting and varied with lots to learn! Naturally due to the wild and predatory nature of the animals, volunteers are advised to note that interaction and close up monitoring of these animals is not an option for the participants on the programme.

Bengal tigers are also found at the centre. Their population has deteriorated at an alarming rate. Over the last 100 years hunting and deforestation have reduced tiger populations from hundreds of thousands to perhaps fewer than 2,500. The centre has been lucky enough to see the birth of a Bengal tiger cub after an arduous 4 years of work and research.

This is a programme designed for volunteers interested in having a truly African experience while making a difference to the local wildlife and environment. Activities for this programme vary on a day to day basis and are dependent on weather and other factors (so please expect the itinerary to change from time to time!).

The itinerary is designed in such a way that volunteers are divided into groups of up to 10 volunteers per group, depending on the number of volunteers. Each group will have an outdoor volunteer coordinator as a leader and mentor.

The groups will be engaged in different daily activities, but will all do the same type and number of activities by the end of the week. In some cases all the groups might do the same activity at the same time depending on the type of activity.

Working hours are generally quite fixed and split into a morning and afternoon session. The morning session is often more physically demanding where temperatures are relatively cooler running from around 9.30-13.00. A lunch break then follows with the afternoon session usually running 14.30-16.30 thereafter. Please note that times are subject to change based on summer / winter times and the activities.

During their free time, volunteers can relax in the lounge, swimming pool, on the tennis courts or in the entertainment room. At weekends, if volunteers choose to head back into Port Elizabeth, then transfers in both directions do run complimentary at fixed times from the reserve with no additional costs.

On an ad-hoc basis, the local team sometimes arrange evening reptile shows, lectures, and cross cultural dance shows.

So it is a busy yet highly rewarding and exciting programme from start to finish. The dedicated volunteer coordinator will ensure that you have a wonderful learning experience, make a real contribution to the reserve and leave with a stronger understanding of the conservation issues in South Africa.

So, if you fancy rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty in a once in a lifetime setting then this is the programme for you!

Can I use this program as part of a university or college placement? 

It is certainly possible to use one of PMGY’s programmes as part of your university or college placement. Project staff can sign off any paperwork required by your course tutors. PMGY regularly receives medical, childcare, psychology and nursing placement students at our projects around the world and we have ties with some of the leading universities.

If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programmes could meet the placement requirements for your degree course then please contact us.

Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?

Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we always ensure our host locations are safe. Each programme has been extensively researched and has passed our strict vetting process. Our UK team undergo an extensive routine when establishing our in-country infrastructures and we continue to monitor our safety procedures on a regular basis. Furthermore, we monitor the stability of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis. Through our constant contact with consulates and embassies and our reports from our overseas teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable regions.

The PMGY team have visited and participated in every programme we offer and verified them based on our own independent criteria. We carefully inspect every little detail of our set-up. From inspecting the living conditions, checking out the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, to tasting the food you’ll be eating – each and every programme we establish has gone through a lengthy and rigorous vetting process. Risk assessments have been written for all areas in which PMGY operate and our experienced local coordinators are always on-hand to manage any emergencies that may occur. Our UK team are always on the road reviewing our risk management procedures in the field and monitoring local conditions. 

In emergency situations we have the necessary protocols and equipment in place and we are able to evacuate our volunteers from potential dangers. Our local coordinators are trained to deal with emergency circumstances. 

When you join PMGY we will send you a digital Volunteer Handbook. This document addresses a range of issues such as health, safety, visa issues etc. Furthermore, our UK team are only ever a phone call away should you wish to discuss any aspect of your upcoming programme. When you arrive in-country, you’ll be given a comprehensive safety briefing during your orientation course by our local coordinators. We will go through everything from emergency procedures, how to use local transport and cultural differences. You’ll also be given the opportunity to purchase a local SIM card, something we strongly suggest, so you’re contactable at all times. We will provide you with a full list of the important contact numbers that you’ll need to know.

All our local teams are experienced development professionals who have years of experience in hosting international volunteers. They are our representatives on the ground and will assist you 24/7 throughout your stay. Whether you need to call home, travel at the weekend or require urgent assistance – they are there to support you.

While we cannot guarantee your volunteer experience to be 100% trouble free we have taken all the necessary precautions to make sure each programme is as safe as possible.

Typical day

Your efforts will help to make sure the reserve is a safe and suitable environment for these animals to not just survive but thrive. You will get the chance to get up close and personal with some of South Africa’s most famous residents. There will be the possibility to care for lions, elephants, rhinos and leopards. 

The activities for the rest of the week are extremely varied so no two days will be the same. Its not all work and no play as the programme is designed to provide a physical and fun experience every day. The volunteer tasks are largely a combination of land management and animal management program activities. Here is just a small selection of the things you can expect to get involved in during the week:

– Lion monitoring

– Rhino monitoring

– Educational lectures and classroom activities

– Removal of alien vegetation

– Planting of indigenous trees

– Landscaping

– Re-establishment of vegetation and vegetation management

– Fence and anti-poach patrols

– Fence repairs and road maintenance

– Monitoring of predators in the rehabilitation centre

– Game counts

All your day to day activities are shown on the itinerary which is always displayed on the volunteer notice board The itinerary will show you what activity your group will be doing and at what time. If you have any suggestions, you are also free to discuss with the local team.

Free-time activities

IN & AROUND THE GAME RESERVE

PMGY volunteer in South Africa Wildlife participants are based on the Sidbury plains in the Eastern Cape. The reserve was initially home to Sidbury village, built by British settlers to support sheep farming communities.

On the reserve, you will encounter the impressive Big 5 roaming freely on the Sidbury plains. Kwantu Reserve is located off the beaten track around a 90-minute drive from central Port Elizabeth. At weekends transfers to and from the reserve and Port Elizabeth are included in the Program Fee. Due to the more remote location of the project, you usually stay on-site at the reserve for the entire week.

Participants generally volunteer on a Monday-Friday basis and the weekends are free to relax or travel further afield. As our volunteers will testify, the wider travel opportunities are extremely important to the whole experience and it is something we certainly recommend. Our local team are able to arrange activities, transport and accommodation but please note this is usually an independent experience outside of the core program.

WEEKENDS AROUND THE GAME RESERVE

PORT ELIZABETH

Port Elizabeth is a city on Algoa Bay in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province. Port Elizabeth (PE for short) fringes Algoa Bay at the western end of the Sunshine Coast, and offers many good bathing beaches, great surf spots and excellent water sports. Marine life in the bay is also sensational, with plenty of dolphins and whales that can be spotted throughout the year. The city centre, once a place to avoid, has started to smarten up thanks to a few urban regeneration projects, and it boasts numerous heritage buildings that are well worth a gander.

JEFFREYS BAY

Jeffreys Bay is a town located in the Eastern Cape province and is one of the five most famous surfing destinations in the world. Jeffreys Bay is a popular tourist destination because of its surfing opportunities and the Blue Flag beach. Jeffreys Bay is famous for abundant seashells, great seafood and calamari. The nearby Kabeljous, Seekoei and Krom River lagoons host numerous water birds and are also ideal for many different watersports including canoeing, boardsailing and fishing.

TSITSIKAMMA NATIONAL PARK

Tsitsikamma National Park is an area of the Garden Route National Park, on South Africa’s southern coast. It encompasses a marine reserve, deep gorges and local vegetation. The Mouth Trail crosses a suspension bridge over Storms River. The Otter Trail leads you to Nature’s Valley, with birds including the Cape batis. Bungee jumping is popular reason for volunteers and adventurers to visit Tsitsikamma. Bloukrans Bungy is the highest commercially operated Bungy Jump from a bridge, in the world.


Water Sports
Swimming
Concert/
Music
Climbing
Safari/
Zoo
Hiking
Museum/
Opera
Sports
Yoga/
Meditation

Require­ments

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)
Criminal Background Check
required
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
You should also be physically fit, as volunteering overseas can be quite strenuous. If you have any medical/mental health conditions that may affect your participation overseas then these must be declared to us during your online application.
What date should I arrive and leave?
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

What's Included

Services by Plan My Gap Year
  • Accommodation (Volunteer House) 
  • Meals (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner) 
  • Airport pick up and Drop off
  • In-Country Orientation
  • In-Country Support
  • 24h UK Based Support
  • Volunteer Handbook
  • Live Pre-Departure Webinars
  • Regular Program Inspection
Airport Pickup at Port Elizabeth International Airport
Accommodation

Volunteer House

During your time with PMGY in South Africa you will stay at one of our Volunteer Houses, located right in the middle of the reserve compound. The accommodation is basic but comfortable and offers a friendly and lively atmosphere. You’ll be living with other volunteers from around the world, so you’ll make plenty of friends along the way.

We will transport you via jeep to and from the accommodation onto the reserve or project setting for the volunteering activity. This service is included in your Programme Fee.

You will be housed in either the Kubs Quarters or Mafusa Camp dorms. The dorms are single sex dorms. Volunteers are provided with bed linen, cupboard space and a mini locker safe to store any valuables. We strongly recommend that volunteers bring a padlock, although these can often be bought from our small shop on site if forgotten. Bathrooms are shared In a dorm like form with a western style toilet, and hot showers are available. There is communal areas across the accommodation with comfortable sofas, big screen TVs, fridge space, books and tea/coffee stations to enjoy for some relaxation and downtime.

Wi-Fi is available (although intermittent) in the main lounge area a short walk from the volunteer accommodation outside of working hours. A chargeable laundry service also operates once per week, where volunteers can hand over their clothes to be washed, dried and returned to them. Volunteers have access to the swimming pool, tennis courts and entertainment room during downtime as well.

The reserve has on site security throughout both around the accommodation compound and on the main entrance into the reserve.

Dorm Room
Food & Beverages

MEALS

Meals are aimed to be as varied as possible across the week so that each day is different.

The breakfast consists of cereals, bread, butter, jam, peanut butter, tea, coffee and cheese, but sometimes we serve eggs, sausages or baked beans, and sometimes a combination of the above.

As for lunch and dinner we have a wide variety ranging from burgers, chicken and chips, macaroni cheese, vegetarian dishes, potato casserole and so on (so you definitely won’t go hungry!). All meals come with a salad option as well.

Please note that all meals are served at the Mafusa dining area, and no cooking is allowed in any of the kitchen areas.

Note: Our team will do their best to cater for any dietary requirements but there may be instances where you may need to purchase alternative ingredients at your own expense.

Internet Access
Good 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 Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ) in Port Elizabeth. 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.
Vaccines
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

NO CREDIT CARD FEES

Details on arrival

You should arrive into Port Elizabeth International Airport on the selected Monday start date. Programmes start every Monday each month.You will be met at the airport by one of our local staff or an appointed driver who will be holding a named sign. They will take you to your accommodation where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure. You must arrive before 4pm on the Monday start date. 

The programme ends on the Sunday of your final week and you should depart the accommodation on this day.

This program is paused due to COVID-19 and reopens December 2020. Apply Now!

Availability
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Duration
1 - 4 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
1 week (min. stay)
$684
2 weeks
$1,134
3 weeks
$1,579
4 weeks (max. stay)
$2,021
Average fees
$595 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. Plan My Gap Year 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 Plan My Gap Year 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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Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Plan My Gap Year cancels your trip
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We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Plan My Gap Year.

What are people saying about Volunteer World?

Wildlife Reserve Supporter

PMGY’s Big 5 Wildlife Experience is a life-changing experience that allows you to work behind the scenes on a world-class wildlife reserve in South Africa!

$595/week

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