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The Great Projects

Wildlife Reserve Big Five Conservation

Volunteer with the 'Big Five' and the Born Free Big Cat Volunteer Foundation in one of South Africa's finest game reserves.

This incredible volunteer experience in South Africa for offers the chance to get involved with the conservation efforts of the world-renowned Shamwari Game Reserve. Volunteers on this project play a vital role in the numerous fascinating aspects of managing an award-winning game reserve which has claimed back more than 25,000 hectares of once derelict farmland.

About the project

Locally identified as Frontier Country, the Eastern Cape of South Africa enjoys unmatched biodiversity which unfortunately has suffered severely over past centuries as result of wildlife, fauna and flora being all but eradicated (with the exception of a few species). The impact of the early settlers in particular has left its mark on a district where several of the first encounters with wildlife in Southern Africa were documented. This project was established to return the land and the wildlife species which used to inhabit it, back to its former glory. Over the past twenty three years, a dedicated team of conservationists has not only been successful in the reintroduction of flora and fauna, but they have also taken responsibility to manage and care for the natural resources which they are now custodians of. 

With an on-site, dedicated wildlife department, Animal Rehabilitation Centre, Animal Hospital and Rhino Awareness Centre, volunteers will gain first-hand experience and insight through a vast array of tasks. This may range from tracking and monitoring of rare and endangered species such as rhino, elephants and predators, working at the Born Free Foundation Big Cat Sanctuary, and possibly witnessing wildlife veterinary procedures.

Volunteers are also involved with local community projects, focusing on wildlife, environment and continued restoration and upkeep of the reserve. This project allows volunteers to personally experience and add value to a project which has been globally recognized for its conservation efforts and expertise.

Prior to Arrival

The easiest way to get here is to arrive into Johannesburg (O.R. Tambo International Airport), and then book a connecting domestic flight from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth. The project is approximately 1 hour (75 kilometres) from Port Elizabeth Airport. Please ensure that you book flights to arrive in Port Elizabeth before 11am on your project start date. You will be met at the airport by a member of staff at the transport service and will be transferred to Shamwari at 1pm. This service is not included in the program fees and will cost ZAR 450 each way, payable on arrival

Holders of UK, most other EU countries, Australian, Canadian and USA passports do not require a Visa for South Africa. Upon entry you will be issued with a 3- month permit (at no cost). Make sure the correct date and length of stay in the country is entered onto your visa when at immigration. If you are travelling from Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Russian Federation, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Algeria, Angola, Comoros, China, Egypt, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mexico, Madagascar, Morocco, Mozambique, Paraguay, Rwanda, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia or Vietnam, you will require a Visa and should consult your South African embassy.

Suitable for

Singles
Couples
Groups

Typical day

First Day

Upon arrival into Port Elizabeth airport you will be transferred to the project site. Once you have arrived, you will have a welcome orientation and briefing. You will then have the rest of the day to settle in and meet the rest of the volunteers.

Regular Days

On your typical working days you will work from approximately 8 am to 4 or 5 pm and have the evenings off. The tasks can vary depending on the season and the number of volunteers on site.

  • 7:30 am: Breakfast
  • 8:00 am: Meeting with fellow volunteers and coordinators
  • 8:30 am: Morning activities, distributed on a rotational basis
  • 12:00 am: Lunch break
  • 1:00 pm: Afternoon activities
  • 5:00 pm: Work is finished 
  • 6:00 pm: Dinner

You can expect to take part in the following activities:

Game count & monitoring

Annual game counts of species (including rhino, elephants, lions, leopards and antelope) are carried out in order to establish the carrying capacity of the reserve, the movement of animals to and from the area, as well as predator to prey ratios.

Telemetry tracking & research

Telemetry tracking (or tracking using remote sources such as wire or radio) is used - particularly with regards to the more elusive species like cheetah and leopards.

Restoration and rehabilitation of reserve landscapes and fencing

This is integral to the well-being of the reserve and ensures its long term revival as a pristine landscape suitable for an extensive collection of flora and fauna.

Maintenance of the reserve as a healthy breeding centre

Shamwari is an important breeding centre for a variety of species. Management here can refer to anything from veld (open country or grassland) conditions assessment, mapping of breeding area, mapping of alien vegetation, monitoring animal numbers and managing water points.

Alien plant control

An essential part of your volunteer duties here, alien plant control helps to get rid of unwanted (and potentially poisonous plants), increase the natural biodiversity of the reserve, as well as decrease fire risk.

Volunteering at Born Free Foundation

An opportunity will be given on a weekly basis for you to volunteer with big cats (lions and leopards) at the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary - a world-renowned animal rehabilitation centre.

Volunteering at the Animal Rehabilitation Centre

Shamwari Animal Rehabilitation Centre was set up to aid in the rehabilitation of injured animals found on the reserve and surrounding community. The aim is to give the animals the short term care they need so that they can be successfully released back into the environment.

Community Projects

This responsibility involves the education of local communities in the benefits of conserving biodiversity and stresses the importance of conserving the natural habitats of Shamwari and the surrounding area. Weekly trips are made into the local community to assist in various community projects that range from creating and maintaining vegetable gardens, recycling projects, painting classrooms and building jungle gyms.

Restoration and Rehabilitation of Reserve Landscapes

The need to return the once pristine landscape to its original splendour includes the collecting and removal of old fence lines and rehabilitating degraded and overgrazed land.

Research Projects

These projects are often undertaken in conjunction with both local and foreign research and academic institutions and may range from elephant fertility testing to capturing data on lesser known species such as Brown Hyena.

Last Day

Once you have said goodbye to your fellow volunteers and facilitators, you will transfer back to airport for you return flight home or you will commence onward independent travel plans.

Details on Arrival

Every other Monday. For example, April 10th, April 24th, May 8th etc (subject to availability)


The last available start date for 2017 is December 4th. The project starts again on January 1st 2018.. 

Please contact us to check whether your preferred start date is still available!

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).
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
We recommend that you come with a moderate level of fitness as the days are jam-packed and you will be involved in a whole host of activities! In terms of skills, all we ask is that you arrive with a willingness to get involved, have a respect for the wildlife and project staff with whom you’ll be working and aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty!
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 07:30 - 17:00

Any questions? Just ask. We at The Great Projects are happy to help you.

Contact Project Coordinator

Free-time activities

You are free to explore the surrounding area, relax by the pool, read a book ect.

Swimming
Hiking
Sports
Contact & Reservation
$571
/week
$571
/week
2 - 4
weeks
2 - 4
weeks
18+
age
18+
age
Airport Pickup
Housing
Food
Internet
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Included Services

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Services by The Great Projects

What's included in the price of the project?
Accommodation during your time volunteering
All meals and juice, tea and coffee.
Volunteer activities (including at the Born Free Foundation)
Full time English speaking ground staff

Accommodation

Accommodation is within a purpose built guest centre that contains 15 twin bedded en-suite rooms, a dining room area, plunge pool, common lounging area with cable TV and a DVD player. There is also tented accomodation, sleeping 3 per tent with en-suite facilities. The availability at the time will depend on which accomodation you will be staying in. Wireless internet is also available at a small fee and laundry service can also be provided once per week.

Guesthouse Bedroom (Single) Camping
Food & Beverages

During your time here, you will be given three meals per day as part of the project price. Bottled water and soft drinks will need to be purchased from local trading stores open daily.

There are no facilities to service Kosher or Halal requirements but the supply of such meals can be serviced at extra cost with adequate warning.

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. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.

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.
Costs (Prices in USD)
2 weeks (min. stay)
$1,095.00
3 weeks
$1,735.00
4 weeks (max. stay)
$2,375.00
Average fees
$571.00/week

You can volunteer at the project site in Port Elizabeth/South Africa between 2 weeks and 4 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. The Great Projects 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 The Great Projects 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

Check out first

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.
Budgeting
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?

Airport
The nearest airport is Port Elizabeth (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.
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.
Free-time
What can you do in leisure-time in South Africa while you are not working at your volunteer opportunity?
Ports Elizabeth, Port Elizabeth, South Africa zoom="6"

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