Conserving Big Cats

Surrounded by  25,000ha of pristine African bush, our Conserving Big Cats project is in the ideal location to experience Africa’s Big Five. This program is for volunteers who want to experience true African wildlife. Volunteers will work side by side with game rangers and researchers to monitor the Big Five and other wildlife species including predators.  In addition to the Big Five, the reserve is home to a variety of wild game and an astonishing variety of bird species. Before heading out for wildlife monitoring, your rangers will brief you on the predetermined objectives for every activity. The information collected is then submitted to the reserve management and anti-poaching teams and used toward conservation management decisions, as well as national conservation efforts to help save these species.

Project Details

The facility was established to provide dedicated assistance with information and data collection to partnered conservation areas to enable the best decisions for the welfare of the animals. This program is a unique and professional experience for individuals who want to make a true impact on wildlife conservation.

Situated in the Lowveld area of South Africa, the Greater Makalali Game Reserve is nestled between the Drakensburg Mountains and the Kruger National Park in the heart of the Lowveld. It is crossed by two rivers, the Selati River in the north and the Makhutswi River in the south adding to the reserves unique topography. It is 65km north-west from Hoedspruit and 75km south-east from Tzaneen.

Volunteers stay in shared rooms (2-3 people/room) with communal bathrooms when they staying at the main research camp. The camp has no fence around it so you will see free roaming animals and birdlife during the day. They visit us in the garden and we regularly see the elephant herds coming to drink at the waterhole. The main building with the office has a large comfortable lounge with a book and movie library where volunteers can spend their free time reading field guides and other books, or watching documentaries in the evening. We also have a volleyball court at the camp, or you can jump into the pool for a cool off!
The volunteer house has five cosy rooms which has two people shared sleeping arrangements. Each room has a washbasin and an ensuite 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 kitchen offers cooking facilities for volunteers to prepare their breakfast, lunch and dinner. The fridge is always filled up with fresh veggies and fruit, cheese and a variety of meat. Volunteers help themselves with tea, coffee, cereal and toast in the morning. For a late brunch you can do sandwiches or salads or have a tasty fry up. In the evening, after game drive, the volunteers cook a delicious meal together or just braai (South African BBQ) in our Boma, where we light up the fire after sunset.

Transfers to and from Conserving Big Cats  and Hoedspruit Airport is included.

Your cell phone will automatically switch on to the South African Vodacom or MTN-service if you have international roaming activated. Alternatively you can purchase a South African SIM for your mobile phone or an international calling card.
Internet Access:
If you require internet access at the camps, you can arrange this for a small cost with the camp manager. On our weekly town trip you will also have the opportunities for internet access at the internet café in town to check your emails and do bookings

The South African weather varies from one area to another, the Lowveld area has very warm summers and moderate winter days with cold evenings.

Summer months in South Africa: November – April (ticks are rife during the summer).

Winter months: May – October (morning and evenings are cold).

You will have leisure time to relax during your schedule, however, activities are planned for each day.

• Accommodation
• Meals
• Laundry
• All linen (except towels)
• Monday to Friday housekeeping service
• Transfers from Hoedspruit Airport to Hoedspruit Endangered Species centre
• All activities as per programme/ outings – An outing every two weeks to interesting local attractions outside of the reserve (entrance fees to be paid by volunteers)
• All training for assistance with our research
• 24 hour emergency contact

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

Tuesday: Early start setting out 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, leopards or hyena.

Wednesday: 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.

Thursday: 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

Friday: Early morning start and 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.

Saturday: Habitat work in the morning, followed by an afternoon monitoring drive focussing 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)

Sunday: 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 the work of Siyafunda, or 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 helping out with vehicle checks and cleaning.

*Please note that the schedule is subject to change

Comprehensive Information Pack


Starting from: (2022 price)
£ 000.00
Starting from: (2023 price)
£ 000.00

Quick Overview

Country & Area  : Limpopo, South Africa

Nearest Airport  : Hoedspruit Airport HDS

Transfer Time     : 40 min

Duration              : 2 – 12 weeks

Minimum Age     : 17