As a volunteer with the Elephant & Rhino Monitoring Project you will experience the African bush first hand, and become part of a small team with a very important job. The project focuses on monitoring the location of elephant and rhino on the reserve as part of the overall anti-poaching strategy. Much of your time will be spent assisting a qualified ranger to track the animals from a landrover using GPS and telemetry devices, covering a different section of the reserve each day.

Being in a Big 5 area means you are very likely to encounter other African wildlife including giraffe, zebra, impala, buffalo, vervet monkeys, baboons, eagles, snakes, spiders, reptiles and much more.

You will stay in a rustic bush camp within the reserve with cold running water and some solar power. The camp is unfenced so wildlife can pass through at any time.

Your participation in this project also helps to support the 'Black Mambas', an anti-rhino poaching unit that relies heavily on donations and fees generated from this volunteer project. The Black Mambas have received praise in the South African media as a poverty alleviation initiative which trains women from disadvantaged communities to become members of an effective deterrent to poaching, helping them to support their families. During your stay, you will have the option to join Craig on his regular drop-off and resupply trips for the Black Mambas so that you can learn more about these special women and the valuable contribution they make to conserving our rhinos.

To join this project you will need to be in good physical condition and aged 18 years or older by the time you arrive. Good social skills are an advantage and a willingness to help where needed is vital as you will be part of a small team of staff and volunteers. Personal characteristics like commitment, flexibility and the ability to use your initiative will also be key. To ensure effective communication between all team members, a good understanding of the English language is also required.

View Photos from the Elephant & Rhino Monitoring Project

Main activitiesField work experience including the monitoring of elephant, rhino, other African wildlife & vegetation species.
LocationGreater Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Arrival dayYou can arrive in Johannesburg on any weekend throughout the year.
Meeting pointJohannesburg International Airport (JNB).
DurationYou can volunteer with the Elephant & Rhino Monitoring Project for 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 weeks.
Working hoursVariable hours, 6 days per week.
Age limitYou must be aged 18 years or older when you arrive.
Volunteer FeeVolunteer fees for each duration are shown on the top-right of this page with the option to select from several currencies.
Pre-arrival supportOur experienced Cape Town based team are on hand with expert advice and assistance to ensure you are fully prepared for your trip to South Africa.
Airport transfersWe provide escorted transfers between Johannesburg Airport and your pre-project accommodation in Johannesburg.
AccommodationBefore you join the project you will have the weekend to settle in at Brown Sugar Backpackers in Johannesburg. At the reserve you will stay in a thatched room at the research camp.
TransfersWe arrange your minibus transfers between Johannesburg and the research camp at the reserve.
FoodAll your meals are included during your stay at the camp.
OrientationYou will receive a comprehensive welcome brief and introduction to the research project when you arrive.
In-country supportBeing based in South Africa means that we can give you real support during your stay.
CertificateOn completion of your placement we will send you a special thank you to accompany your CV or resume.
VisasCitizens from most countries can arrive in South Africa and stay for up to 90 days without a Visa. Refer to our FAQ section for more details if you are unsure.
FlightsPlease ask us if you need any recommendations for keeping your flight costs to a minimum, or consult our FAQ section.
InsuranceWe have partnered with World Nomads Insurance to give you access to great value insurance for volunteers. Check out our Insurance page under the FAQ tab for more details.

Life on the reserve is rarely routine, and there is no typical day. On a 'normal' tracking day, you will be up with the sun for coffee and breakfast before heading out on the landrover to search for the rhino and elephant in a specific area of the reserve. You can expect to be out and about for around 6 hours each day, with a rest stop for a light lunch. There will be frequent stops to scan for wildlife using the telemetry device, and you will learn how to use this tool to work out the animal's direction and range. You will also assist with gathering data, recording any notable sightings or events, and later back at camp, entering data into spreadsheets for research purposes.

Along with helping out with camp duties like cooking and cleaning, you could find yourself assisting with repairs after heavy rains, fixing damage after elephants have passed through the camp, or mucking in to get a stranded landrover back on the road. The team are often involved with darting wildlife, working alongside vets and assisting with a variety of other related tasks.

Conditions on the reserve can vary wildly with very high temperatures, long dry spells, torrential downpours during the wet season, and long days in the sun being regular features.

With so much time spent in the fresh air you will feel tired at the end of each day, which makes the evening meal even more delicious. Evenings around the campfire are perfect for catching up on the day's events, planning ahead, and for retelling stories and jokes as the Milky Way drifts overhead. The frequent night calls of hyena and lion all add to the excitement, and will join many other wonderful memories of your days in the African bush.

Pre-Project accommodation (For your first Friday, Saturday & Sunday night):

As one of Johannesburg's best backpackers, Brown Sugar has a great range of facilities and is well positioned in the Observatory suburb of Johannesburg to provide the perfect place for you to relax and explore during your first weekend in South Africa.

While you’re at Brown Sugar you can enjoy all of the facilities below. Whether you’re having a dip in the pool, or booking an adventurous activity at the Travel Desk, you will find that Brown Sugar have plenty to keep you busy:

  • Dormitory accommodation with all bedding and linen provided
  • Self-service breakfast is included with cereals, egg, cheese, ham, toast, jams, milk, yoghurt, fruit, tea, coffee & juice
  • Free Wi-fi and an internet cafe with laptops for the use of guests
  • A fully equipped shared kitchen with fridge/freezers for storing your groceries
  • All bedding including linen, duvet and pillows (linen is changed every four days)
  • Self service laundry
  • Lots of showers and toilets
  • A travel desk for booking tours and activities
  • A pool area with sunloungers and a BBQ
  • A large bar with Satellite TV, a pool table, and an outdoor balcony area with seating and BBQ facilities
  • Lockable storage for your valuables (please bring your own padlock for this)
  • CCTV Security and controlled gate access
  • A night manager
  • The lodge is cleaned daily and rooms are also serviced daily.

At the Elephant & Rhino Monitoring Project:

You will stay at a rustic bush camp with basic facilities that include:

  • Twin share accommodation units with solid walls, windows, a thatched roof, a verandah, a solar powered night light, and an outside sink. Each unit includes two single beds with bedding, and a variety of camping storage units that double as bedside tables and work tables
  • Cold water showers, flush toilets and sinks in open air enclosures which are screened from the camp, but open to the bush. Water flow can't be guaranteed at all times as elephants occasionally wander through the camp and they have been known to pull out piping and showerheads
  • Basic camp style kitchen with a gas stove and gas refrigerator. Cutlery, pots, utensils, plates, bowls & mugs are available along with a variety of condiments. As there is no oven, most of the cooking takes place on the communal camp fire
  • Thatched lapa area with free Wi-Fi, a radio communication unit, and a solar powered recharging station for mobile phones and laptops. The lapa provides useful shade and is used for presentations, entertainment and for  working on laptops.

Please note that the camp is solar powered which is suitable for basic lighting, operating the water pump, and recharging mobile phones and laptops. The solar power cannot cope with heavy duty items like hairdryers. There are no electrical power points in the accommodation units.

The Elephant & Rhino Monitoring Project is located on a large game reserve which forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park in Limpopo Province.

We have arrival dates for this project on any Friday throughout the year.

  • You can arrive at Johannesburg International Airport at any time of day on or before your chosen arrival date
  • We will provide an escorted transfer from the airport to Brown Sugar Backpackers, your pre-project accommodation in Johannesburg
  • You will have the rest of the weekend to settle in, perhaps take a tour of Soweto, grab dinner in China Town, and maybe include a visit to the Apartheid Museum. The friendly team at Brown Sugar can help you with these any many other activity and tour options
  • On Monday morning you will travel approximately 6 hours by air-conditioned minibus to join the project.

It’s easy to add extra nights to your stay, so if you find a cheaper flight that arrives earlier than your Friday arrival date just let us know. You can also add extra nights after your placement for the same reason.

Durations & Pricing

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2 weeks - £ 740
3 weeks - £ 1020
4 weeks - £ 1270
5 weeks - £ 1500
6 weeks - £ 1730
7 weeks - £ 1960
8 weeks - £ 2190
You do not pay anything when you book. We will provide you with a detailed itinerary and quote for you to check. When you are happy with the details, you will be able to confirm your placement with a deposit of £90.

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