Volunteer in South Africa with the Big Five & Hyena Monitoring

The focus of this wildlife conservation project is to monitor the Big Five (lions, white and black rhinos, elephants, buffalos, leopards) and hyenas in a national park in South Africa. This is a very unique opportunity as many volunteer programs take place in private reserves and not in a national park!

Active conservation work for the Big Five

Big Five & Hyena MonitoringIn this project you will also be actively involved in conservation work – the land is the base for the animals and the ecosystem must be kept in balance to ensure that the animals are healthy. You will have the opportunity to assist the park’s veterinarian while caring for the animals (if needed). You will spend your days in the wildlife vehicle and occasionally on foot tracking, observing and recording the behavior of lions, rhinos, elephants, leopards, buffalo and hyenas. All photos collected will be analyzed and used to create ID kits of the animals and the data collected will be used to write monthly reports for the park managers.

Unforgettable Experience Volunteering at the Big Five Wildlife Sanctuary

Camille Claus Marietti at the Big Five Game Reserve
Camille Claus Marietti with an elephant

This summer I had an unforgettable experience in South Africa. Thank you Iko Poran for this exceptional travel! Sure, I will do it again!

  • Camille Clauss Marietti

The contribution of animal welfare volunteers is crucial for the continuity of the project.

This wildlife conservation project is a dream come true for anyone who has a passion for animals and conservation or has dreamed of experiencing the heart of Africa firsthand. Your help is critical to the immediate and long-term success of the Big Five Conservation Project and, more importantly, to the National Park Service itself. The project is responsible for all the monitoring and conservation work of a national park section and the only funding comes from volunteers. Your contribution, as well as your memories, will be remembered long after you return. If you want a truly African experience, this project is the place to be!

Big Five and Hyena Monitoring Highlights.

  • Daily monitoring of the Big 5 and hyenas (monitoring drive or on foot).
  • Learn how to collect data, take ID photos and process them to create ID kits; set up camera traps
  • Contribute to conservation work (alien plant removal, bush clearing, road reopening, etc.)
  • Participating in anti-poaching activities, such as sleeping in the bush
  • Assisting the veterinarian in the removal of animals when necessary
  • Have a true African bush experience.
  • Seeing Africa’s amazing wildlife up close and personal.
  • Working in the area of a national park!

Since the volunteers of this project rotate to visit and work in different parts of the reserve, you will have the opportunity to try a hand at all the different tasks and activities whilst you are staying in South Africa.

Qualifications and requirements for the Big Five game reserve project:

  • You must be over 18 years old. There is no maximum age limit.
  • You must be in a state of good physical and mental health.

Start Dates & Arrival

Project duration: Min 2 weeks – max 12 weeks

Location of project:  Limpopo Province, South Africa

Arrival airport: Johannesburg (airport code JNB) arrive by 10 am at the latest as the pickup is at 11am. Start date every Tuesday.

Activities: Tracking and monitoring animals, recording and inserting data, general reserve management activities (such as alien plant removal, road maintenance etc), duties when back at base on a rotary basis.

Working hours: From Monday to Saturday, Sunday day off. Possibility of doing excursions (extra) during the week.

Requirements: Minimum age 18.

Accommodation: Shared dormitory room in volunteer house on the park section; a couples room with ensuite bathroom is also available on request if available.

Food: Self-catering – food is provided. Volunteers will cook following a menu and do the washing up on a rotary basis with the other volunteers.

Airport pickup: Included on arrival date – ask us for details if you’re arriving early. Project runs Tuesday to Tuesday. Arriving early will cost extra for pickup and accommodation.

Transfer to the project: R1500 each way payable directly to the project.

You need to organise: Flights, insurance, visas. The return airport transfer from the project can be organized by the project itself on the Tuesday at the price mentioned above.





  • The program fee is paid directly to the host organization.
  • All of the projects incur a registration fee of  U$ 149.00 on top of the program fee.

South Africa Prices 2018 - October



What is included in the volunteer program fee?

  • Expert help-desk

    We’re always available to offer support and guidance before, during and after your trip.

  • Thorough project briefing materials

    Once you’ve booked you’ll receive a full pack of all the information you need for the project. It contains general information about volunteering, your specific project and South Africa as well as advice on safety, visas and inoculations.

  • Airport pickup

    Don’t worry about arriving in a new country on your own. We’ll be there to welcome you and take you to your accommodation.

  • Arrival orientation

    Soon after you arrive you’ll attend a thorough orientation with our team. It covers everything you need to know about your next few days, dos and don’ts and your safety.

  • Accommodation and meals

    Accommodation is included with all projects and meals are included with some. We only use locally-owned and operated accommodation so that part of your placement fee is filtering back into the local economy. Most projects offer homestay, guesthouse or shared volunteer houses as standard accommodation, but some offer the chance to upgrade to a more comfortable living standard.

  • 24/7 emergency support

    We’re always on hand in case of an emergency.




Accommodation & Meals


You will stay in a comfortable farmhouse in the rare antelopes breeding section, sleeping in shared dormitory-style bedrooms (a couple’s room is available on request at a small extra cost) with the sounds of night time wildlife as your lullaby – it’s not uncommon to get woken at dawn by wild animals and bird calling! Bedding is not provided so please bring your sleeping bag. Bathrooms are also shared with hot running water and showers and flush toilets.

There’s a communal kitchen, living room lapa (thatched roof) and braai (bbq) area in the big garden where you’ll spend your Sunday evenings cooking on an open fire under the African stars, sharing stories with new friends and enjoying the amazing sounds of the bush at night.


Food is provided and you and other volunteers will take turns to prepare meals for the group and complete house duties on a daily basis. You can do personal grocery shopping with the staff when they go into town to replenish stocks, if you would like to eat something different from the menu provided.

Facilities and the area

The house is partially equipped with solar electricity – a torch is required as during the night the power is off.

There are facilities to charge batteries and cell phones during the day time.

You’ll be expected to complete house cleaning duties and any work at base on a rotary basis. The person on duty will stay back home half day to complete these duties.

There is a safe at the farmhouse to store your valuables, if you wish.

Most amenities are available in town, including a supermarket and a pharmacy.






  • You must be over 18 years old. There is no maximum age limit.
  • You must be in a state of good physical and mental health.

All participants in our volunteer in South Africa programs must have adequate travel insurance and are required to provide a criminal background check to local staff on arrival in South Africa or during orientation,

Treat animals and humans with respect.

Most importantly, pack in energy, a positive attitude, love in your heart and a spring in your step!

What to bring from home

  • Sleeping bag
  • Torch (this is very important as lights go out at 22h00)
  • Roll mat
  • Binoculars
  • Camera
  • Towels, shower gel, shampoo
  • Strong Gardening Gloves

Mornings and evenings can be very cold in winter and chilly even in the summer months so be sure to bring some warm clothes with you.

Hard-wearing, durable clothes and shoes in neutral colours (beige, brown and khaki green) that will blend easily into the bush.

Tap water is safe to drink; please bring your own drinking bottle (at least 3litres in total) and buy bottled water if you prefer.

A mosquito net, especially during the summer months. The project is located in a malaria free area but you will certainly need one if you are travelling into the Kruger National Park as it’s a malaria zone.

Language Skills required to volunteer in South Africa

Fluency in English is required in all the projects.


You will have competent support and advice from the local team and project leaders. Someone will always be available in the case of any emergency. Please keep in mind that you are in a different country and should take some precautions to avoid exposing yourself to certain risks.

The local coordinators will give you all the information to have a safe and unforgettable experience.





This summer I had an unforgettable experience in South Africa. Thank you Iko Poran for this exceptional travel! Sure, I will do it again!

  • Camille Clauss Marietti
Camille Claus Marietti at the Big Five Game Reserve
Camille Claus Marietti with an elephant





South Africa Volunteer Programs

Find an overview of all the animal welfare projects in South Africa here. If you enjoy caring for animals, check out the project for rehabilitating wounded or orphaned wildlife in Port Elizabeth. For example, you can also visit South Africa for a project on protecting Vervet monkeys. In Cape Town, you can also do a marine biology internship at the aquarium. There is another project in Kleinbaai to protect the Great White Shark in marine conservation.

Veterinary students can go for the veterinary science internship, with wildlife of the African Bush.

In addition, there are also educational projects, such as early childhood nursery, or teaching assistance at a primary school, also on the southern peninsula of Cape Town.

Volunteering with animal conservation

You may also have a look at the Animal Conservation page, with all the volunteer programs with animals.