Elizabeth, South Africa)
Interested in doing
conservation work on a Big 5 Game Reserve?
Come and join Kariega Game
Reserve as a conservation volunteer. Make a real difference, grow your
skills in conservation and have the experience of a lifetime!
Kariega is an
extraordinary and exciting conservation project, at the forefront of
numerous species reintroductions and conservation drives. If you want more
than just a safari … come and get your hands dirty and learn more about
conservation management on a malaria-free Big 5 game reserve.
Volunteer Programme is the ultimate Big 5 wildlife experience, where
volunteers from across the world get the opportunity to enjoy hands-on
involvement in conservation management on the reserve. During your stay with
us, you may see yourselves as “Assistant Conservation Managers,” as all the
work done and data collected by you will be utilized by Kariega for
conservation purposes. A dedicated coordinator will ensure that you have a
wonderful learning experience, make a real contribution to
the reserve and leave with a stronger understanding of conservation issues.
Our volunteers also get
the opportunity to explore South Africa’s amazing coastline as Kariega is a
mere 16 km from the sea... the beautiful Indian Ocean is literally on your
doorstep! This coastline has particularly rich marine fauna and flora as
well as endless sand dunes and beautiful beaches. To top it all off, we have
a brilliant community outreach programme. Our volunteers assist at a local
rural farm school by teaching children basic subjects like English. Come and
make a real difference and have fun doing so!
Volunteers will be
provided with stimulating practical experience in the following four areas:
research, conservation management, education and community development.
Volunteers will help monitor elephant movement patterns,
range utilization and vegetation impact with the aid of telemetry (certain
elephants are fitted with radio collars). Volunteers will also use elephant
identification sheets to record the unique ear markings of each elephant for
reserve management purposes.
Population Status of Leopards -
Leopards have been persecuted in the Eastern
Cape for the last 300 years resulting in declined numbers and fragmented
populations, and placing the local population at risk of extinction.
Virtually the entire landscape was hostile to them, and leopards survived in
only the most isolated areas. Recently attitudes towards large predators
have shifted, and leopards are now legally protected. There has also been a
recent shift in land use, with an increasing number of private nature
reserves which complement the national parks in supporting conservation of
Kariega Game Reserve is
one of the oldest of these private nature reserves. These shifts suggest
that the landscape is now more leopard-friendly, with decreased persecution
and increased refuge areas. Our leopard project therefore aims to assess the
status of leopards in the Lower Albany area and investigate the role of the
Kariega Game Reserve as a refugee habitat for leopards, which may move
across the Lower Albany area. We are fortunate to have the support of the
Centre for African Conservation Ecology of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan
University on this project.
Currently we are trying to
establish how many leopards occur on Kariega Game Reserve. We have movement
sensor cameras in place on the reserve and the volunteers are responsible
for monitoring these cameras, changing memory cards and recording all images
taken. The cameras are moved regularly around the reserve to increase the
chance of leopard sightings.
Lion Prey Selection Monitoring -
An important responsibility of the volunteer
program is to record as many lion kills as possible. This data
provides the conservation department at Kariega with valuable information
regarding prey selection. Certain lions on the reserve are fitted with
radio collars so volunteers will learn how to use telemetry tracking.
Rhino Monitoring -
The estimated number of rhino poached during
2012 in South Africa is 633! This crisis is the most significant
conservation issue that South Africa has faced. Kariega conservation
volunteers help monitor and account for rhinos on the property on a regular
Birds in Reserve Project (BIRP) -
This project involves cataloguing the
species, numbers and breeding status of the birds at Kariega as part of a
project headed by the University of Cape Town’s Avian Demography Unit.
Conservation management activities form a
large part of the volunteer program. Some of these activities involve
physical work and therefore a certain level of determination from the
volunteer is required. Keep in mind that the "reserve needs" are always
taken into account and you will help to fulfill those needs as a volunteer.
Daily activities are interesting and varied, and could include assistance
with some of the following:
• Game Counts
• Sex and Age Ratio
Recordings - species like eland and giraffe
• Alien Vegetation Control
- eradication and control of alien (non-endemic) plant species. Bush
encroachment control through selective clearing is also done in certain
areas on the reserve. This aspect involves physical hard work!
• Soil Erosion Control -
previous land utilization practices like cattle ranching have caused erosion
gulleys in certain areas on the reserve that need rehabilitation.
• Reserve Clean-Up
Operations - removing old cattle fences and water pipes on the reserve.
• Road Maintenance and
Repairing of River Crossings
• Parasite Control –
administering anti-parasite medications to specific species (when required
by the reserve)
• And any other
conservation management activity that might “pop-up” at the reserve that
requires volunteer assistance.
Volunteers may also
have the opportunity to experience the following additional conservation
• Capturing of Wild
Animals – our recent volunteers had the AMAZING once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity to assist with the capture of the following species on the
reserve: elephant, lion, rhino, hyena, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra and
impala! Please remember that captures only occur when required by the
• Game Introduction -
there will be ongoing introductions of additional game, especially as the
reserve has acquired more land that needs to be stocked with various African
• Fire Management - an
important driving force in savanna ecosystems (depending on the time of year
and fire regimes).
Each volunteer will receive a field booklet
which can be taken home at the end of the program. Before you start with
each practical task, the relative theoretical background on the subject will
be discussed in the form of informal lectures. The theory provides insight
into the value of the practical activities in which you may participate.
Mammal, plant and bird checklists are included in the booklet which will
help you to identify different species at Kariega.
Practical education will
be provided throughout your stay:
• Bush Walks, Game Drives
and Night Drives - identification and discussion of various mammals, plants
• Sleep Outs - camping out
in the bush around a campfire under the African sky (weather dependent).
• Field Skills & Survival
- learn to look after yourself in the wild
We have identified an under-funded farm
school near the reserve where our volunteer program can make a real
difference. The school is small, yet very under-staffed, and local kids aged
4 to 15 years attend the school. Kariega volunteers visit the school
one day a week (not during school holidays or rainy days - most of the
children walk about 10 km to attend school so, if it rains, no one goes to
school!), and make valuable contributions to the children’s education. Our
volunteers take many of the classes themselves and teach 6-12 year olds
subjects like English, Math and Science. You might also help with the
maintenance of the school’s facilities or by giving sport lessons to the
kids. A recent group of volunteers renovated a classroom (with a completely
collapsed ceiling and floorboards!) for the pre-primary school kids. Your
contribution here is real, and both the children and the headmistress are
very appreciative. Guaranteed to leave you with a feeling of satisfaction!
You will be accommodated in a fully
furnished house on the reserve (shared bedrooms and bathrooms).
Volunteers will be divided into teams and will be responsible for the
preparation of meals on a rotational basis. There will be plenty of
opportunity for braais (BBQs) under the night skies and socializing
around a fire. We have also recently built a lovely plunge-pool for
volunteers to cool off after a hard days work!
The working week at
Kariega is from Monday to Friday. Working hours depend on the season and may
vary from 7 – 9 hours per day. The evenings are at leisure. Saturdays are
reserved for a town trip (either to Kenton-On-Sea, Port Alfred or
Grahamstown) where volunteers can do their shopping, eat out, visit all the
sites of the local towns. Sundays are off time.
Kenton-On-Sea is a
beautiful small coastal town only 15 minutes drive from the reserve. The
beaches are absolutely breathtaking and pristine. Your local "hang-out" is a
pub / restaurant overlooking this stunning beach! After the Saturday morning
shopping in Kenton (volunteers can stock up on all everyday essentials),
volunteers often laze around on the beach, swim in the waves or sit in the
beach bar while sipping away on a cold drink and taking in the scenery.
There are also additional
activities that can be organized for you on a Saturday (at your own cost and
on condition that a few others in the group also want to partake in the
• Horseback riding on the beach or in a game
• Sky diving - tandem (that means
strapped to an instructor!)
• Deep sea fishing
• Two day canoe trail on the Kowie River
(this is a hit with many of our volunteer groups)
• Quad bike riding
• Addo Elephant National Park field trip
• And even a weekend trip away with bungee
Kariega accepts volunteers of 16+ years of
age. Volunteers under 16 years old are only considered when
accompanied by a parent/guardian. There isn't a maximum age limit,
though a reasonable fitness level is necessary.
1 weeks: GB£495 / US$795
2 weeks: GB£695 / US$1195
3 weeks: GB£995 / US$1695
4 weeks: GB£1295 / US$2195
Extra weeks: GB£295 / US$495 per week
Volunteers receive a $100 discount when joining multiple Enkosini
uses USD rates as standard due to currency fluctuations. GBP rates
are indications of approx recent values. Currency convertor at
Volunteer contributions cover meals,
accommodation, activities on the reserve, and project donation. Flights and
travel/medical insurance are NOT included. The only additional spending
money required will be for personal purchases, social excursions away from
Kariega, and pre/post project travel. We do not have discounted rates for partial
Please bear in mind that the sooner you
apply, the better your chances of securing your placement!
There are no set arrival/departure dates for this project, but please
note no arrivals or departures over weekends (Saturdays and Sundays).
Arrivals and departures are preferred to be scheduled for a Monday.
Volunteers are required to sign an indemnity form acknowledging and
accepting the consequences of working in close contact with wild
animals. Applicants must be 18 yrs old or over. The minimum time period
for a booking is a 2 weeks placement and maximum time period is 12
Arrangements will be made by Kariega
staff to collect incoming volunteers from Port Elizabeth Airport.
Kariega is approximately 140 kms (two hours) from Port Elizabeth.
Volunteers are to pay for the transfer to and from the airport
themselves. The current rate is R500 for a one way transfer (R250
sharing) and payable
directly to the taxi driver upon arriving at Kariega Game Reserve.
and buses to Port Elizabeth can be booked online at www.kulula.com,
Once your placement is confirmed, Enkosini
will forward you Kariega’s information document. This provides
volunteers with project specific information and help with pre-trip
preparations (what to pack, preferred flight times, living conditions
and generally what to expect).
Kariega is based in a malaria-free area and
there are no formal vaccination requirements for entering South Africa,
however it is incumbent upon each person to get their own medical advice
on vaccinations and on whether or not to follow a malaria prophylactic
(if you are planning onward travels into malarial zones). See FAQs for complete packing list.
joined Kariega Game Reserve’s volunteer programme for a month during 2007. I
left the UK and headed to South Africa not knowing what the road ahead had
in store. However, I can honestly say that it was the experience of a
My reason for joining
Kariega’s volunteer programme was to collect data and information for my
third year university project. I was able to prepare prior to my stay due to
the excellent response from Enkosini Eco Experience, in finding out what
research projects I would be involved in. On my arrival, the Kariega team
provided me with a wealth of information, time and support in helping me
complete my tasks. The team here is so talented and working in the field
with such people was awe inspiring!
I was really shocked at
how much I was involved in during my short stay. I remember thinking
back in the UK – “come on, as if I’ll get to do that”. The next thing you
know I’m in the back of a truck with a sedated zebra! I was actually
involved in all the research and conservation projects the web site
advertised – no joke. However, they always made time for my individual needs
– sorry for all the questions guys! The team have great personalities too
and play just as hard as they work! They allowed me to explore local towns,
visit the beach, party (oh!) and skydive from a plane at 10 000 feet. Yes
people, I have video evidence – what a day that was!
This has been so much more
than a uni trip for me. The memories I brought back to the UK, I will keep
with me for the rest of my life." -Adam Howson, England
"Staying on Kariega Game Reserve was the most amazing and definitely the
best thing I’ve ever done. Being part of the whole experience, living on the
middle of a game reserve, enables you to learn so much and truly understand
what conservation is all about. The work is a mix of physical labour, for
example, the removal of old fence lines, which is hard work but very
satisfying when finished. Driving around the reserve and being able to see
lions, elephants and all the game so close up is unbelievable – definitely
an experience to remember! Being able to sit so close to the lions and take
photos as they posed for us – stunning! And then there are the beaches,
awesome even in winter. The Kariega experience I would recommend to anyone
and everyone." -Rebecca Underdown, England
"The Kariega experience was one which I will never forget. During the
mornings while I was there the group of about 10 of us staying on the game
reserve would do work such as fence removal, trail rebuilding, clean up farm
sites, game counts, and alien plant removal. This type of work was physical
but definitely rewarding because you could see how it was going to directly
help the animals on the game farm and conservation of the habitat for the
future. In the afternoons we got the opportunity to do some fun activities
and see the game reserve a bit more. We went canoeing, on hikes, to the
beach, and tracked down the lions or elephants. I'll never forget the
feeling of first seeing the group of elephants and just how close we were,
especially when they all started to get anxious and we had about 6 of them
come at us...inches away from the truck. It was amazing just as it was when
we would all of a sudden come upon the gorgeous lions. I loved being able to
be a part of the game reserve, both living and working on it. This is
definitely a great experience and one which I recommend to anyone." -
"I just wanted to say thank
you for allowing me to go to Kariega Game Reserve. I had such an
amazing time and it was an experience I will always remember! Helana and
Dirk were fantastic and made my stay both interesting and fun; and supplied
us with everything we could possibly have needed. I feel I have learnt a lot
and every task I took part in was rewarding. I hope every other volunteer
enjoys themselves as much as I have! Thanks again!
-Katrina Dixon, England
"It’s definitely true what the Kariega
Volunteer Programme slogan says: 'An equal mix of work and play' defines my
experience here down to a pinpoint. If you choose this placement for an
easy ride or think that it is solely a better chance to see the Big 5 up
close … you’ve come to the wrong place. That’s not to say you won’t
experience things with wildlife that others only dream of. For example
having a bull elephant come up to the fence of your house, patrol around the
perimeter and stand majestically, watching a magnificent sunset, allowing
for literally perfect photos. Of course there’s hard work to do as well,
such as the removal of invasive plant species or old fences which now act as
physical barriers to wildlife, or even expanding the waterhole outside our
house with clay and water … BUT you’ll be surprised at the sense of
satisfaction and personal gain you will feel. You will also feel like you
are really making a difference when you see the fruits of your work. My
personal favourites were seeing a family of 6 giraffes who have become
residents outside the house due to our work on the waterhole, and seeing
whole plains of alien plants dying as a result of our spraying chemicals and
thus restoring some of the natural balance in the ecosystem.
We also got ample time to explore the
surrounding area like the local towns (especially the beautiful
Kenton-On-Sea) and had the opportunity to do a number of additional
activities, like horse riding on a stunning beach and skydiving over the
Eastern Cape bush. There really is so much to do in the area. I will love
the Sunshine Coast forever!
My personal experience of the programme has
been fantastic and even after a 8 week stay, I was still seeing and doing
new things every day. My recommendation to future volunteers … The longer
your stay, the better your experience will be as you will get the chance to
do so much more – things you may never get the chance to do again!
Definitely make the most of your stay by putting your all into everything
and I promise that you will leave Kariega at the end of your visit with
awesome memories, new and exciting skills, and some great friends. I say
all this without any doubt whatsoever. To all future volunteers at Kariega:
Have a fabulous time!" - Adam Tiran, UK
"Last Saturday we returned from a wonderful
vacation and experience at the beautiful Kariega Game Reserve. We enjoyed it
very very much and we thank you that you recommended it to us.
Everything was well arranged and prepared. They have a varied volunteer
program where you experience a lot! We learned new things about animals and
plants and experienced the real life of the Xhosa people who live there. It
was great fun!! We are already saving money for a next year's South
African vacation so we will keep in touch because we are very pleased with
your organisation." -Rene Verhaar & Magda Rozenboom, Netherlands
conservationists we live in a world with numerous challenges and daunting
odds. However, we all share responsibility for the wise use of our
resources and for the conservation of the diversity of ecosystems and
species. It is this extraordinary diversity that makes Africa such a
vibrant place to live in and to visit. You cannot love what you do not
know. Come share our passion for conservation here at Kariega Game Reserve
and experience the depth and scope of the challenge facing environmental
conservation in Southern Africa." -Helena
Warren, Kariega Volunteer Programme Manager