Big 5 Conservation Programme

Big 5 Conservation Volunteer Programme in South Africa

Participating in this Big 5 Conservation volunteer programme at South Africa’s famous Garden Route allows you a deep insight into core aspects of wildlife management in South Africa. You will learn about conservation needs and threats of South Africa’s Big 5 such as lions, African elephant, leopards, Cape Buffalo and rhinos as well as smaller wild animals as well. At the same time you will have the unique opportunity to leave your fooprint and contribute to the sustainable wildlife conservation in South Africa!


The Big 5 Conservation Volunteer programme is a perfect opportunity for aspiring wildlife conservationists who would like to collect valuable practical experiences in wildlife conservation in a country of the global South. It is also an incomparable experience for nature and wildlife enthusiasts or who would like to contribute to the conservation of South Africa’s precious wildlife. Professional knowledge is not an essential requirement as you will be instructed and guided in all tasks.

The Big 5 Conservation Volunteer programme has been developed by a South African wildlife conservation expert to offer participants an incomparable volunteer experience, practical knowledge and diverse hands-on encounters with the world famous “Big-Five” animals of Africa as well as a multitude of other wild animals found in Africa.  As a volunteer, you will learn numerous facets of operating a wildlife game reserve, and you will contribute to returning some of Africa’s lands back to their original state – an African savannah teaming with wildlife.


As part of the programme, you will be working in three different game reserves along South Africas’s fascinating Garden Route. You will be instructed and involved in many of the disciplines central to managing an African game reserve. Specific focus is placed on managing the wildlife, conservation, reserve maintenance, the tracking of free roaming cheetah, elephant care as well as various research projects. The course is run over two or four consecutive weeks, with the option of staying longer. Volunteers will also engage in night-time and dawn/dusk activities, research, monitoring and patrolling.


The Big 5 Conservation Volunteer program is a once in a lifetime opportunity for aspiring wildlife conservationists or nature enthusiasts.  The program will demand much from participants, mentally and physically; however, the demands are well within the capabilities of most volunteers, and whilst being challenging, it is both enjoyable and exciting.  It is an opportunity to learn invaluable new skills, experience Africa’s unique environment and wildlife, be part of the difference that returns the environment to its natural, original state. It is not only about what you take with you, but the lasting effects of what you leave behind.


If you are a student of conservation management, biology, zoology, environmental education, or related fields you can get your participation accredited as an internship.


Like all our projects in the field of wildlife conservation, the work is done in game reserves with a strict “Hands-off” policy. This means that visitors and project staff do not have any physical contact with the animals except for medical reasons.

Quick Facts

Place: Garden Route, about 400 km from Cape Town

Starting Dates: Every Saturday, programme is closed from mid December to mid January

Duration: 2-12 Weeks

Focus Areas: Wildlife Management, Wildlife Conservation, Biodiversity, Sustainable Development, Research

Accommodation: Shared accommodation in comfortable farm house

Requirements: Interest in wildlife and nature conservation, willingness to get involved in hands-on work

The Big 5 Conservation Volunteering Programme involves both theoretical and practical training in various wildlife management topics as well as hands on conservation tasks. Amongst others you will be part of the following trainings and tasks:


  • Animal Tracking – identify animal footprints; learn how to safely approach animals on foot;
  • Bird, insect and plant identification – identify different types of birds, insects, fauna and flora; learn about and contribute to related conservation research;
  • Wildlife management – learn all the facets of managing a Big5 game reserve: wildlife nutrition and feeding, game capture and translocation, basic soil studies, Boma elephant care and nutrition, predator care and monitoring;
  • Collect data for Cheetah research project
  • Basic reserve maintenance (fences, roads, construction etc.)
  • Conservation projects (planting trees, erosion control, seed harvesting etc.)
  • Take part in different rural community projects
  • Anti-poaching Night Drives / Patrols;
  • Wilderness camp and basic survival skills (only for volunteers here for more than 3 weeks weather dependant).


Working Hours:   Mondays to Fridays from 8:00 to 5:00 pm. One night per week you will do a night drive to identify nocturnal animals and plot their position and behaviour. Weekends are off.

Programme Fee (2021): ZAR 9.900,- (approx. € 550,-/US$ 665,- per Week)

Fees include:

  • Accommodation in shared rooms
  • Food (3 Meals per day)
  • Transfer from Albertinia to project accommodation upon arrival and deaprture
  • Internet
  • Laundry Service (1 x week)
  • 1 Project T-Shirt
  • Practical and theoreatical trainings on various aspects of wildlife management
  • Instruction by qualified wildlife ranger/conservationist
  • Transport for all daily activities as part of the programme
  • 24/7 Support in cases of emergency
  • Support in organising weekend activities
  • Qualified support and advise around volunteer and internship placements in South Africa
  • Beratung rund um das Thema Freiwilligendienst und Praktikum in Südafrika
  • Processing of application documents, contracts as well as paper work to get the programme accredited by your university
  • Support with all travel preparations (Flight, Visa, Insurances, Vaccinations, Transfer to the project etc.)
  • Access to live&learn network in South Africa as well as contact to other participants before departure
  • Competent contact persons in Cape Town to support you with all questions and problems while you are in South Africa
  • Volunteer and/or internship confirmation für deinen Lebenslauf

Not included:

  • Flight ticket (from approx. €650,- for a return flight from Europe)
  • Transfer to project (from ZAR 450,-/approx. € 25,-)
  • Foreign Health Insurance (from approx. € 25,-)
  • Leisure Time activities

Please let us know how long you would like to stay and we will send you a quote with a detailed cost plan so you can budget for your trip.

  • Wir sind deine Südafrika-Spezialisten
  • We are your South Africa experts
  • We offer personal consultation tailored to your individual ideas and needs
  • We guarantee a placement in a project that suits your interests and possible university requirements
  • We assist with all paper work to get your internship accredited with your unviersity or college
  • We assist with all travel preparations and share insider tips that you won’t find in any travel guide
  • We provide you with contacts to other live&learn participants
  • If you wish, we welcome you at the airport in Cape Town and help you to get adjusted to living and working in South Africa
  • We are here for you throughout your stay in South Africa to debrief your experience and to assist with any possible challenges
  • We offer regular social events in Cape Town
  • We inform you about all costs in a transparent manner (no hidden costs) and also assist with applying for financial aid such as scholarships
  • As part of our quality management all our projects as well as experiences of our participants are regularily assessed
  • All our project partners make a contribution to implement human rights in South Africa and/or work towards social and ecological justice and sustainability in South Africa

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