Big 5 Wildlife Protection

This project offers you a unique experience and gives you the opportunity to observe and be a part of the research/monitoring teams on the reserve.

About the Program

The Big Five Wild project offers you a unique experience in the African bush and gives you the opportunity to observe and be a part of the research/monitoring teams on the reserve. The focus of the this project revolves around some of our key species; elephants, lions, hyenas and leopards. You will also be involved in monitoring our breeding initiatives comprising of buffalo, livingston eland and nyala. Habitat work also plays an important part of the monitoring process. Whether on a monitoring drive, on foot, or observing the wildlife at a waterhole, all of your work will be done under the guidance of our qualified rangers.

Typical Tasks

Volunteer tasks are focused on monitoring, which forms the basis for the majority of our research assistance on the reserve. We conduct monitoring drives in the mornings and afternoons. The monitoring coincides with times of increased activity of the specific animals we are observing. We also spend time on foot tracking the more elusive animals, which is an amazing way to experience the bush. During the drier winter months, we have several hides based at waterholes which allow you to observe the various animals and their interactions at close quarters. The volunteers will also spend time attending to habitat management requirements on the properties and the greater reserve.

Project Highlights
  • Learning about South African wildlife conservation
  • Going on game drives and seeing wild animals up close
  • Experiencing what it is like to live in the bush

You will be living close to many wild animals in the bush. Nothing beats being surrounded by a herd of elephants or a pride of lions and being able to spend time observing their individual traits and family dynamics.

Suitable for


Typical day


Project start day. Town trip to pick up volunteers and restock supplies.

Early start on a set-route drive as part of our game counting program to determine populations of general game. In the afternoon we depart for a monitoring drive to locate one of our key species of interest; lion, elephant, leopard or hyena.

Waterhole monitoring in the morning to determine species utilisation of the area. We set off for a drive in the afternoon to the breeding boma to monitor the buffalo, Livingstone eland and nyala.

Habitat work; we could be busy with exotic plant removal, erosion control or bush clearing. In the afternoon or evening, we head out on hyena monitoring and night patrol.

Early morning start, we will be out locating the elephants as part of the ongoing research into the elephant contraception program. The afternoon we will set out to monitor bird species on our way to a sleep out under the stars with the Endangered Species project.

Habitat work in the morning, followed by an afternoon monitoring drive focusing on our lion population. On return in the evening, we may head out to the local pub or have a typical South African braai (BBQ)


Either an outing will be planned or it will be a free day for volunteers to relax or head out on their own tour.

In between activities, volunteers will receive a series of presentations on various subjects; how to properly conduct the work of the project, how to approach dangerous game on foot, or possibly even a Zulu lesson. This time will also be used to transfer all data collected onto the computers and compile the weekly research report, as well as help out with vehicle checks and cleaning.

Program Requirements

Minimum Age
16 years
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level)
Health Declaration
Criminal Background Check
Required Documents
police clearance, application form, proof of travel insurance and flight details and copy of passport
Other Skills
Medium level of fitness, legal guardian's permission if you are not 18
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Do you have any questions concerning this volunteer opportunity in South Africa? Volunteer World directly connects you with SAVE Foundation

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Free-time activities

The volunteer accommodation features a large outdoor social area. During free time, volunteers can relax in this area and enjoy a braai (South African BBQ). As the farm is remote from the town and the days are quite full of activities, during the work-week free time activities are limited. However, project leaders will go into town weekly on an off-day (during the weekend), at which time volunteers are welcome to join and grab some groceries, try the local cuisine at restaurants, and use the internet at cafes. Project leaders and staff can also help to assist volunteers in planning weekend activities such as climbing, swimming, and cultural experiences.



What's included?
Return Transfer from Johannesburg Airport - All meals - Accommodation - 24 hour support and supervisor - Donation to the project
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.

No worries, Volunteer World supports you in raising funds, checking your visa regulations and travel insurance. We also assist you in finding the cheapest flights for your journey.
Airport Pickup

Volunteers will be met at Johannesburg International airport and taken to the project by shuttle. The vehicles used are roadworthy and have all relevant licenses and liability insurance.

All transport is safe and reliable
All licenses and insurances are up to date
All insurances and liabilities for passengers are up to date and fully paid


The volunteer house accommodates a maximum of 10 volunteers in five cosy rooms which sleep two people in a shared space. Each room has a washbasin and an en suite bathroom, which is shared with the adjoining room, consisting of a shower with hot running water provided by eco-friendly solar heaters and flushing toilets. The camp has no fence around it so you will see free roaming animals and birdlife during the day.

Bedroom (Single) Bedroom (Double)
Food & Beverages

All food for breakfast, lunch and dinner is provided, as well as fresh fruit. However, food is only re-stocked once a week so once it’s gone it’s gone! If you have any special dietary requirements please inform us before your arrival so that we can accommodate them if possible.

Cordial fruit drink, tea and coffee are provided. Soft drinks, alcoholic beverages (beers and ciders) and snack foods are not available in camp but you can buy them on the weekly town trips.

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
2 weeks (min. stay)
3 weeks
4 weeks
5 weeks
8 weeks
10 weeks
24 weeks (max. stay)

You can volunteer at the project site in Hoedspruit/South Africa between 2 weeks and 24 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. SAVE Foundation will tell you your final price during your application process.
Average Fees
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 SAVE Foundation during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Get ready to volunteer in South Africa

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Visa Regulations
Depending on your nationality, you have to arrange your visa for South Africa. Please check the visa regulations for South Africa.
Travel Seasons
Find out the best time to volunteer in South Africa and receive information on weather and climatic conditions.
Living Costs
Living costs vary with each destination. We give an overview of what you should plan as an estimated budget to volunteer in South Africa.
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in South Africa.

What's next?

The nearest airport is Hoedspruit Airport (HDS) in Hoedspruit. 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.
Vaccine Checker
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.
What can you do in leisure-time in South Africa while you are not working at your volunteer opportunity?
Packing List
Packing our bags is important to prepare your trip, but often turns into a last minute horror. Make sure you don't forget the essentials by creating a personalised packing list for your volunteer program in South Africa upfront.
Hoedspruit, Johannesburg , 7441 Hoedspruit, South Africa