Volunteer at the world’s leading conservation company in South Africa.
The Shamwari Game Reserve is a fully operational 25,000 hectare Big Five Game Reserve. Shamwari, meaning “my friend” in Shona, is the pinnacle of game reserves and home to one of the largest conservation initiatives in Southern Africa, located in a malaria-free environment. The Shamwari Game Reserve Conservation Volunteer Program offers a once in a lifetime chance to get behind the scenes and involved with the conservation efforts of the Game Reserve.
Volunteers join for 2 to 12 week durations. Individuals, groups, families and students doing research are all welcome. The price includes lodge accommodation, 3 meals a day, training & supervision, use of BBQ, swimming pool, and other volunteer facilities. It starts at £940 (est. $1,200 USD). Wildlife conservation volunteers will have the chance to assist with many on-going short and long term projects. Depending on conditions and the needs of the facility, the possible activities include:
Game Monitoring – With regular monitoring, it is possible to identify individuals, compile information about the family structure and determine feeding and special ecology. Data collected is used to assist in the managing decisions for the reserve.
Game Count – Annual game counts are conducted to establish the carrying capacity of the reserve. Game counts assist in the decision making of predator to prey ratios and the movement of animals on or off the reserve.
Telemetry Tracking – Monitoring high profile animals like cheetah and leopard are required using telemetry tracking equipment as result of the neighboring properties carrying livestock and the elusive nature of some of the species.
Restoration & Rehabilitation of Reserve Landscapes – The need to return the once pristine landscape to its original splendor includes the collecting and removal of old fence lines and rehabilitating degraded and overgrazed land.
Management of Breeding Centre – This can include anything from veld (open country or grassland) assessment of conditions, mapping of breeding area and alien vegetation, monitoring animal numbers and managing water points.
Internship Research Projects – Undertakings of research projects with a focus on a value added outcome for the reserve or conservation as a whole, are greatly encouraged.
Alien Plant Control – Alien plants were introduced to the land by the farmers for different reasons and uses. Today these invasive plants need to be removed to increase the natural biodiversity and decrease fire risk.
Born Free Foundation – It goal of the Born Free Foundation to create an awareness about the horrific way in which wildlife is exploited in captivity around the world. An opportunity will be given on a weekly basis for individuals to volunteer at their Big Cat Sanctuary.
Animal Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) – The aim of the Shamwari Animal Rehabilitation Centre is to give injured local animals short-term care and release them back into their natural environment. No animals are kept for purposes of breeding in captivity but are hosted with the aim of giving them a second chance to take on life back in the wild. Volunteers are sent when, and if, assistance is required.
General Reserve Maintenance – Possible Activities Include game capture and other wildlife veterinary work, sleep outs on the Big five reserve, orientation and nature walks, and assisting in night and anti-poaching patrols.
Community Projects – The role of conservation does not stop at conserving nature alone, but also includes a responsibility to uplift local and impoverished communities. This responsibility includes education of the community as to the role and benefit of conserving biodiversity and further stresses the importance of conserving our natural resources. 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.
The reserve is constantly monitoring existing game and introducing new game throughout the year. The wildlife department where you will be working has received the Global Nature Fund Award for Best Conservation Practice, and the wildlife director, Dr. Johan Joubert, was voted one of South Africa’s Top Ten conservationists by the Endangered Wildlife Trust.