SAVE Foundation

Elephant Conservationist & Caretaker

Plettenberg Bay, South Africa show on map

Non-profit | SAVE Foundation

This educational program is informative and fun. It consists of learning through wildlife volunteering along the Garden Route of South Africa.

About the Program

Our African Elephant Project is an informative and fun educational program. It consists of learning through wildlife volunteering along the Garden Route of South Africa. The program is founded on outcome-based learning objectives with innovative approaches to help understand elephant behavior and apply operational animal management care, husbandry and welfare strategies, procedures and protocols.

The program is structured and organised consisting of day to day interactive and experiential learning. We manage the program in such a manner that all volunteers take away invaluable knowledge, acquired skills, and experience. This program gives an insight into both the quasi captive and the wild roaming populations of African Elephants and the way that they have adapted to change and sound wildlife management strategies and initiatives. Volunteers will reluctantly leave the program enriched with elephant ‘sense’, elephant memories which are unsurpassed and friendships forged into the future.

Typical Tasks

The programming format for this project is divided into five key areas:

1. Theoretical Modules:
Lectures, presentations, workshops & interactive participant feedback sessions
2. Practical Modules:
Formal practical half/full day sessions per program and numerous informal practical sessions
daily of varying duration. These practical sessions compliment the awareness training
specific to the program.
3. Practical Research Projects and Assignment Presentations:
These are allocated personally and for feedback sessions to the group.
4. Presentations:
Peer reviews, peer evaluations and peer points for projects & presentations
5. Program Outcomes, Assessments and Evaluations:
These will take place individually during the final week of the program

Project Highlights

  • Learn about elephant conservation in South Africa
  • Get involved with regional elephant conservation projects and research initiatives
  • Learn about the perpetual threats to ecosystems and the environment
  • Create long lasting memories and friendships with people from all over the world

Typical day

Volunteers will work from Monday to Friday during which they will cover different aspects of the project. Daily schedule starts at 08h00 am and finishes at 16h30 pm unless otherwise specified. Duration: 4 weeks. However a 2-week option is available comprising the first 2 weeks of the 4-week program. 

The project varies from week to week and will allow the volunteers to progress in their knowledge and practical experience:

  1. Week 1: Elephant Husbandry, Care, Welfare, and Management (Animal & Facility) -Volunteers will be led through the various facets of elephant husbandry, care, animal welfare and animal management principles and protocols by a hands-on facilitator/instructor who will guide the experience and the learning outcomes in a fun and entertaining manner.
  2. Week 2: Elephant Behavioural Research, Monitoring, and Inter- & Intra-Specific Observation & Interpretation- Eco-Volunteer learners are guided through the use of various tools, techniques and mechanisms to record, monitor and note interesting behavioural observations and features pertaining to each of the Elephants on a daily basis.
  3. Week 3: Wild Elephant Behaviour and Ecological Adaptability Wilderness Safari-Volunteers will be taken to Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth for a 5-Day elephant observation, interpretive and facilitated SAFARI experience where wild elephant behaviour is observed, monitored and accounted for on a daily basis.
  4. Week 4: Elephant Behaviour Adaptations & Observations, and Conservation Research Projects-Volunteers are once again back at the Elephant Sanctuary with daily chores relating to the
    elephants being addressed as well as additional group tasks being undertaken where all
    observations found within wild and captive elephant populations, observed on our elephant
    journey so far are brought together in a group project based outcome.

Free-time activities

Your project facilitator will be happy to assist you with activity ideas and bookings. Please note that all activities are not part of the volunteer program, but optional activities to do at your own expense during your time off. The Crags, situated about 20km from Plettenberg Bay, has many options for exciting excursions nearby. Some activities volunteers can participate in include: skyding, bungee jumping (at Bloukrans Bungee, the world's highest bungee bridge at 216m), shark-cage diving, canyoning, canoe tours, sea kayaking, kitesurfing, and surfing. Plettenberg Bay also has many restaurants, bars, and shops.

Water Sports

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 16 years old on the program start date.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Required Documents
application form, proof of travel insurance, flight details, copy of passport and CV
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Positive attitude, medium+ level in fitness.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 08:00 - 16:00

Suitable for


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 SAVE Foundation cancels your trip
Support & Mediation
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by SAVE Foundation.

Before your journey

Profound consulting and ongoing support (free)
SAVE Foundation (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 SAVE Foundation

Airport pickup, - Accommodation - Orientation - 3 meals a day - Transport to and from projects (as well as transport, accommodation, & meals during the outward bound extension module where we are based at Addo Elephant National Park for 5-days in Week 3) - 24 hour support and supervision - Donation to project - Certificate of appreciation

Airport Pickup at George Airport

You will be met at the airport by our representative on the day prior to the commencement date of the program. Alternative arrival modes are to be discussed with us prior to arrival. If you cannot find our representative, please wait at the information desk & give us a call if there is more than a 15 minute delay.


Volunteers will be accommodated where the program is presented 20km from Plettenberg Bay. All accommodation is comfortable, up-to-date with necessary amenities and on a sharing basis –2 in a room.

Bedroom (Double)
Food & Beverages

Breakfast: help yourself to breakfast; cereals, fruit, yoghurts, toast and spreads. Lunch: this will be in the form of a packed lunch on excursion days or help yourself to lunch – with breads, fruits, cold meats, salad of the day and spreads. Dinner: A hot meal will be served every night such as traditional BBQ (Braai), stews (Potjies), casseroles, fresh vegetables and meats being the order of the day. All dinners will include a meat, starch and vegetables. Tea & coffee are always available.

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 George Airport (GRJ) in George. 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.
Costs (Prices in USD)
2 weeks (min. stay)
4 weeks
5 weeks
26 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees

You can volunteer at the project site in Plettenberg Bay/South Africa between 2 weeks and 26 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. SAVE Foundation 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 South Africa.
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.
  Africa Southern Africa South Africa  Plettenberg Bay, Elephant Sanctuary

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