Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers

African Elephant Research Assistant

Lilongwe, Malawi show on map

Care for rescued animals and support research projects about distribution and movement patterns of the local elephant populations.

The project

Volunteers will spend 2 weeks at a wildlife centre caring for rescued animals, then 2 – 10 weeks on the elephant research project where they will assess the status, distribution and movements patterns of elephants occupying the study conservation area. Awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO in 2000, the National Park covers approximately 3,200km2 to establish one of Malawi’s truly outstanding features. Situated on the border of Zambia, this thriving hub of activity hosts no less than 100 mammal species and 430 individual species of birds. Running in conjunction with the Wildlife Reserve, this research camp operates to house, protect and monitor a variety of wildlife including Cheetahs – a species that were thought to be extinct for the best part of two decades.

The conservation team at the National Park will provide volunteers with all of the necessary training to undertake their individual research activities on site. The initial orientation and training phase is designed to bring visitors up to speed on the codes of practice that must be adhered to. Any further feedback or questions can be directed to staff.

Our volunteers
There are 4 key domains in which volunteers contribute:

  • Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation
  • Elephant Research
  • Education and Community Outreach
  • Communications and Campaigns
In the field, the volunteers will obtain an up close and personal view of the elephants, buffalo, warthogs, zebras and bushpigs to gauge their health, wellbeing and overall integration back into their native habitat.

Please note
The wildlife centre operates a strict hands-off policy as our goal is to release as many animals as possible back into the wild. It is highly important not to humanise the animals as this puts them at greater risk of being poached after release. That said, some orphans need special attention and round the clock care to ensure that they have the best possible chance of survival and rehabilitation, so you may well be stepping in with surrogacy work and providing all aspects of care in those early days. It can be an incredibly rewarding experience to see animals progress and know that you have played a vital part in their journey back to the wild.

While the luxurious and exotic surrounds of Africa will provide an experience you will never forget, there are some obvious challenges that some volunteers will encounter. Removed from a comfortable first world environment, volunteers can be confronted by the state of some of the animals in the park given their circumstances. Those that arrive in the warmer months will also be exposed to a hot and unforgiving climate, making it imperative to come prepared.

Typical day

At the wildlife centre, working hours are completely dependent on the animals we have in at the time, and on the level of care they need. Ideally, volunteers will work from 8am till 5pm, but this is not often the case as most elephant orphans need feeding at unsociable hours and some even need round the clock care. We try our best to split this up between volunteers but please be aware that there may be some long days or even some night shifts. However, a typical day could look like this:

8am-1pm: Orphan care activities and/or enrichment
1pm - 2pm: Lunch
2pm – 5pm: Community outreach/animal care/projects

Once in the field, volunteers will undertake research duties allocating much of their schedule for a 6-day working week.

Details on Arrival

Every Tuesday, all year. Subject to availability. 

Free-time activities

Malawi is known as the Warm Heart of Africa for its friendly people and stunning landscapes, and it’s generally viewed as the ‘safest’ country to travel in Africa. Volunteers take one day off a week and a long weekend off every month. It is possible to take off more or less time, dependent on emergencies and what projects you are working on. We highly recommend that you spend weekends off at the lake or on safari. We can help you with your booking and show you the best deals. Here are a few ideas:

  • Zambia: Safari to South Luangwa valley
  • Senga Bay: Boat trip, snorkelling, swimming.
  • Liwonde National park: Game drives and boat trips
  • Cape Maclear: Boat trips, paddle-boarding, canoes, booze cruise, hiking
  • Kande: Horse riding 
  • Dezda: Pottery, paper workshop, hiking, cave paintings 
  • Kuti Wildlife Reserve: Wildlife viewing, cycling
Please note

The first instalment of your project fees is due within 1 week after you paid the deposit on Volunteer World. This is a total of $495 AUD and comes off your balance. The balance is due 90 days prior to travel. For all further information about the fees, please scroll down to the section "Program Fees“.
Sightseeing
Shopping/Souvenirs
Safari/Zoo
Hiking

Program 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 (fluently)
Health Declaration
required
Required Documents
Proof of travel Insurance docs and proof of vaccinations.
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Enthusiasm for conservation.
A love for animals.
Great work ethic.
Willingness to learn.
Ability to work within a team environment.
Ability to work in a remote area.
Capacity to translate newly acquired skills across to others.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 08:00 - 17:00

Suitable for

Singles
Couples
Groups
50+

Included Services

Extra security layer by Volunteer World
Volunteer World is the world's leading comparison platform for international volunteer opportunities. We guide you through a safe and easy application process - including all necessary payments. Planning your next meaningful trip with Volunteer World gives you free access to our:
Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers cancels your trip
Resolution Support
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers (your host organization) provides consulting and is keen to answer all your questions. Once you reserved your spot, you will receive the contact details of your volunteer project.
Online preparation course (optional, from $49)
Prepare yourself and become a confident and well informed traveler. Global Travel Academy takes you on a journey before you leave home, helping you to become one of the world's greatest travelers. Our trusted partner for online learning offers courses in "International Volunteering", "Travel Health & Safety" and "Travel Safety Abroad".

On-site services

Services by Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers
  • Return airport transfers
  • Accommodation
  • Local SIM card
  • All meals, tea/coffee and bottled water
  • T- Shirt
  • Orientation and training
  • WIFI
  • Volunteer Coordinator
Airport Pickup at Lilongwe International Airport

We will pick you up at the airport.

Accommodation

Your accommodation within the park is situated at a cosy log cabin on the Plateau. This self-sufficient site comes complete with a shared bathroom, bedrooms and a kitchen. Running water and electricity is available for four hours in the evening with a limited phone and internet signal.

Dorm Room Bungalow
Food & Beverages

Breakfast supplies are available to all volunteers. Meals are cooked by our local chef each day except on Sunday when extra food is given to our dedicated volunteers. The vegetarian menu catered by chef Joseph is a mix of local and international cuisine, but we are flexible enough to cater to most dietary requirements. Visitors are welcome to bring their own meats or other luxuries if they wish.

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 Lilongwe International Airport (LLW) in Lilongwe. We assist you to find cheap flights to Malawi.
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 Malawi provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccines
If you are intending to volunteer in Malawi you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Malawi.
Costs (Prices in USD)
2 weeks (min. stay)
$1,646.00
3 weeks
$2,569.00
4 weeks
$3,222.00
5 weeks
$3,843.00
6 weeks
$4,218.00
7 weeks
$4,544.00
12 weeks (max. stay)
$5,441.00
Average fees
$638.00/week

You can volunteer at the project site in Lilongwe/Malawi between 2 weeks and 12 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Malawi.
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 must be made up to 30 days before to the volunteer program starts. This payment is also securely handled by PayPal or credit card.

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Reservation

The social project site is open in Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

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