Overview

Make the most out of your time abroad and experience two amazing locations, while volunteering on critical terrestrial and marine conservation projects AND get career training from Conservation Careers!

Travel to Seychelles and South Africa to contribute towards island and wildlife conservation initiatives. Conduct sea turtle or tortoise research in Seychelles and record the movements of savannah animals like lions, leopards and elephants in South Africa.

Overview

Experience the untouched beauty of protected natural regions in Seychelles and South Africa while contributing directly to the preservation of these areas. Learn about the conservation challenges in these regions and what is being done by local authorities and international organisations to assist with wildlife and environmental conservation. On the weekends, go diving and snorkelling in the turquoise waters of Seychelles and visit the Kruger National Park.

Seychelles

In Seychelles, you will live and work on Curieuse Island, a protected national park, along with our staff, interns, and other volunteers. Conduct surveys on Aldabra tortoises and research on nesting sea turtles and lemon shark pups, or carry out surveys of the mangroves. All our research is conducted in partnership with the Seychelles National Parks Authority. On weekends visit the nearby island of Praslin, home to the Valle de Mai, a world heritage site, thought by early explorers to be the original Garden of Eden, for a nature hike, relax on the many beaches, or go snorkelling in the crystal clear waters.

South Africa

Then go on to live and work in South Africa, in a private nature reserve, only an hour’s drive from the famous Kruger National Park. Here you will have the opportunity to spot lions, leopard, elephants, and other South African wildlife while contributing to their preservation and that of their environment. Undergo extensive training to learn how to identify and track animals through the reserve and collect data that will be used by local and international organisations to ensure their conservation. Spend your mornings on a safari vehicle tracking predators and their prey across the savannah, the afternoons inputting the data into relevant databases, and the evenings learning more about conservation data collection techniques. You might also get involved in conducting environmental education programs at local schools or research projects concerning cheetah feeding behaviour and the impact of elephants on endemic plant species under threat. During your time off, get to know your fellow volunteers, take a trip to Kruger National Park or visit the Drakensberg mountains for climbing, hiking, and kayaking in this scenic region. Please note you can spend up to 12 hours a day collecting data which can be tiring, in the heat of the African sun.

No special skills or qualifications are required to join this program, as all training will be provided by our fully qualified field teams. This will allow you to develop new skills to assist with future employability.

Please note travel between Seychelles and South Africa is not included. Feel free to speak to your Enrolment Manager about options and costs involved.

Highlights

  • Go on a wildlife safari adventure in a private South African nature reserve.
  • Listen to the quiet hush of the wild open spaces, waking each morning to a chorus of savannah birds and drifting off to the nighttime hum of endemic frogs and crickets.
  • Learn to identify predators, like lions, cheetahs, and leopards, as well as megaherbivores like elephants and rhinos.
  • Master radio telemetry techniques and learning how to track and record animal movements.
  • In your free time, visit the famous Kruger National Park, only an hour away from where we are based or visit the nearby Drakensberg Mountains where awe-inspiring vistas are afforded over the Blyde River Canyon.
  • During the laying and hatching times you can watch as a female hawksbill turtle crawls out of the sea to lay her eggs, or help sea turtle hatchlings in their first journey to the sea.
  • Catch and release baby sharks after collecting valuable measurements and data.
  • Take a minute to unwind in the company of the island’s gentle giant tortoises.
  • Snorkel in crystal clear waters alongside coral, fish, turtles, eagle-rays, reef sharks, and spot dolphins from the boat.

Our Award-winning Partner

Conservation Careers has teamed up a family-run organisation with an amazing culture and an awesome team of people across the world who are passionate experts in their chosen field and will make your experience a truly unforgettable one (in a good way).

Their award-winning projects receive over 2000 participants every year, and we’re proud to say that the vast majority of them describe their experience with them as ‘life changing’. Their approval rate from over 20 000 participants since 1997 is over 95%.

A key component of the success of their community development and conservation projects is the participants who join their programs. Opportunities include high impact volunteering from one week and up, internships for those looking for career development opportunities, Challenges that allow a one week adventure all for a good cause and a range of programs for school groups and younger volunteers.

If you register your interest below, we’ll put you in touch with our partner to take the booking and to plan your trip!

See all our Conservation Careers Internship and Volunteering opportunities.

Life on base: Seychelles

Curieuse Island and its surrounding waters are a national park, managed by our local partner, the Seychelles National Parks Authority. Our beach-front camp is located on the white sand beach of Anse St Jose and overlooks Praslin (Seychelles’ second largest island), a short boat ride away.

Your impact: Seychelles

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Our primary partner on this programme is the Seychelles National Parks Authority. Data collected from your efforts is passed to the Seychelles Ministry of Environment and participating NGOs to be used in creating local conservation policies and is shared worldwide with other conservation teams and efforts. To do this we work on various environmental conservation initiatives, such as safeguarding sea turtles, surveying Coco de Mer nut production, mangrove mapping, Giant Tortoise population censuses, and sicklefin lemon shark monitoring.

This is to offer support to our local partners, assist in the conservation of these islands flora and fauna, and to address many of the UN Sustainable

Development Goals, such as #14 – Life Below Water, #15 – Life On Land, #4 – Quality Education and #17- Partnerships For Goals

Project objectives

Curieuse Long-term Objectives:  

  1. Increase scientific knowledge and baseline data on the health of ecosystems on Curieuse Island,
  2. Increase awareness of our Seychelles projects and the ecological value of the Curieuse Island National Parks in-country,
  3. Build local capacity to support long-term conservation of biodiversity and sustainable community development in Seychelles,
  4. Continue to minimize our environmental impact on Curieuse Island and raise awareness of environmental issues amongst volunteers and visitors.

Exploration: Seychelles

Joining a program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer.

Long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Many decide to travel before or after their experience (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.

Weekend trips

La Digua Island visit

La Digue is the picture perfect tropical island, small and intimate with quaint guest houses and arguably the most beautiful beach in the world – Anse Source d’Argent.

Praslin Island visit

Praslin is home to the Vallee de Mai (a world heritage site) thought by early explorers to be the original “Garden of Eden”, that is home of the famous Coco de Mer palm tree. Praslin has a limited, cheap bus service and taxis are easily available. For further exploration, you may choose to hire a car on Praslin or make use of the inter-island ferry services between the other islands.

Curieuse surrounds

Lounge on the local beaches, snorkel in the coral reefs, hike the jungles and explore, or just relax on base.

Further travels

Other African Nations

Kenya and Tanzania are also only about three hour flight  away, and both feature amazing wildlife, exciting adventure activities, and unique cultural diversity to explore. If you are willing to commit to further travel you could also explore destinations like South Africa, Ghana, Malawi, or Morocco.

Madagascar

The only location in the world to spot lemurs in the wild is only a three hour flight away from the Seychelles.

Outer Island visits

The outer coral islands like Desroche, Bird, Dennis, Farquhar, and the Amirantes group, are further away, but well worth the trip. These locations are much more remote and have been barely marked by civilisation. As such they are in a pristine condition rarely found anywhere in the world today. The opportunity to see unique marine and bird life is unprecedented.

Cultural immersion: Seychelles

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.

Curieuse Island

Our island conservation program in the Seychelles is based on the island of Curieuse, which itself and its surrounding waters are a national park, managed by our principal in-country partner, Seychelles National Parks Authority. On Curieuse you can experience true island culture, as Curieuse has very few inhabitants compared to most of the other larger islands, making its natural habitat very well-preserved. This beautiful coastal area consists of unique habitats including mangroves wetlands, seagrass beds, and coral reefs.

Seychelles 

The Seychelles is a tropical archipelago off the East Coast of Africa, consisting of 100 islands. The main, or so-called inner islands, are made of granite. Researchers believe that they use to form part of the Indian subcontinent. The granite attracted corals and most of the outer islands of the Seychelles are based on coral. The islands are famous for their unique biodiversity and are home to literally thousands of unique land and underwater species. The waters of the Indian Ocean are a haven for coral conservation efforts making the Seychelles a sought-after diving destination.

Festivals

There are festivals throughout the year, the most notable being the Seychelles International Carnival of Victoria in February, which celebrates the cultures that helped shape the Seychelles. There is also the La Digue Festival in mid-August and the Creole Festival in October, and for those interested in the natural world, there is the SUBIOS Underwater Festival on Mahe’s main beach in October, celebrating underwater conservation.

Languages

Seychellois Creole is spoken by the majority of the native Seychellois, roughly 95% of the populations, but as the island country was a British colony, English is the language officially used in government and business dealings. French is also spoken on the islands, by a minority.

Life on base: South Africa

Then, live in the heart of the South African savannah sharing a renovated farmhouse with Field Guides Association of Southern Africa qualified guides, other staff, and participants hailing from all four corners of the globe. Rise each morning to the sounds of an authentically African birdsong at dawn, and head out in open-topped safari vehicles to conduct research vital for the conservation of key predators species, like cheetahs and lions. Head back to camp, when the sun is at its height, input data, study, assist with cooking or tidying, or relax with other participants in our shared outdoor social space. When the African sun starts to set over the Drakensberg mountains at dusk, head out again to conduct further research. Return when the stars in the Southern night sky are at their brightest and share a meal and the day’s stories with fellow participants. In your free time, explore Kruger National Park, a 45-minute drive from your accommodation, or the Panorama Route, including the magnificent Blyde River Canyon.

Your impact: South Africa

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Many of Africa’s wildlife species are under threat. Private reserves, like Karongwe, where we run our conservation project, are a haven for species at risk. Karongwe is located within the UNESCO protected Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Reserve. This biosphere represents only 1.4% of South Africa’s land, but contains 55% of the total natural life found here.

Karongwe Nature and Wildlife Reserve

Karongwe Nature and Wildlife Reserve was once made up of individual farms. In 1998 the landowners banded together to create a 8,000 hectare wildlife reserve. We were brought onto Karongwe in 2001 to monitor the large predators and herbivores on the reserve. This helps reserve management to understand the impact of predators on prey and maintain a healthy ecosystem by ensuring a balance of natural resources. Predators are often tracked using telemetry, or monitored using camera trapping, to learn how they use the space within the park, what their feeding behaviour is like, how they interact with one another and other predators. Herbivores might be counted, their numbers, age, and sex listed, and their impact on vegetation noted. This data is presented to Karongwe management and landowners on a weekly, quarterly and annual basis.  We also assist with anti-poaching efforts by compiling ID kits of any rhinos we come across and maintaining the park’s fences and roads. We also assist with removing old farm infrastructure and invasive alien plant species as well as working on soil rehabilitation to help with habitat recovery.

Cheetah Research and Conservation

Our cheetah research is conducted in conjunction with the Endangered Wildlife Trust, a conservation organisation who currently manage SA’s cheetah metapopulation. Cheetahs are a species listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List Of Threatened Species. They are a rather fragile species as they naturally have a low genetic diversity and are not able to compete well with other larger, stronger predators like lions and hyenas. Our study mainly focuses on how cheetahs make use of their kill by setting up camera traps near their fresh kill to see how much time the cheetahs spend on their kill and what potentially encourages them to leave. This helps to know how they are dealing with competition with other predators. We also collect data on breeding success.

Elephant Vegetation Impact Mitigation

In partnerships with Elephants Alive, who have been actively involved in elephant conservation for the past 20 years, we also conduct surveys of the impact elephants have on the local vegetation. Due to their habit of pulling up trees to eat the top leaves and roots, a large population of elephants can have a negative impact on a small environment, especially for species like the marula tree. This might involve monitoring sensitive areas of the reserve and the movements of elephant groups, developing elephant identification kits, and analysing the effectiveness of elephant vegetation destruction methods.

Bird Research and Conservation

We also contribute to the South African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP2), the most important bird monitoring project in Southern Africa, and its largest citizen science database. Birds are appropriate indicators of ecosystem health because they are popular and well studied. The availability of significant, long-term datasets in South Africa makes birds a good choice for early-warning system for climate change impacts and other systematic, ecosystem-wide threats to broader biodiversity. The number of critically endangered birds in South Africa has increased from 5 in 2000 to 13 in 2017. One group in particular features particularly dramatic statistics, 22 of the 79 raptors occurring in the North-Eastern region of the country are now considered threatened. Of concern are the low numbers of scavenging raptors. Most of South Africa’s vulture species, as well as the Tawny Eagle and the Bateleur, two obligate scavengers, are listed as endangered or critically endangered. In December 2016, SABAP2 featured nine million records across 17339 pentads, five minutes of latitude by five minutes of longitude, squares with sides of roughly 9 km, in South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Selection of sites and habitats critical to bird conservation rely on this data. All other conservation initiatives depend on the results of the bird atlas, to a greater or lesser extent. On cannot determine the conservation status of a species unless you know its range and how this is changing.

Environmental Education

We also conduct environmental education programs at several schools in the area.

As the requirements of our partners change over time so do the details of our projects. We make ourselves available for conservation-focused mini-projects. This might include documenting bird of prey nesting sites or the creating a list of micro fauna species in the park. In the past we have partnered with a range of conservation organisations like Panthera and academic institutions like the University of Cape Town, Pretoria University, and Bournemouth University. Exact project details are also always subject to change due to weather conditions, time of year and animal movements.

As such, the specific United Nations Sustainable Development Goal we work on in Limpopo is #15, Life On Land.

Project objectives

Karongwe’s Long-term Objectives:

  1. To provide long-term and consistent data for Karongwe Reserve Management to assist with Reserve Management decisions based on scientific data.
  2. Increase local awareness of our purpose and impact on Karongwe PGR.
  3. Increase scientific output.
  4. Contribute to three large scale reserve management projects alongside the Warden in accordance with the Reserve’s Management Plan.
  5. Increase our in-country capacity by providing environmental and conservation education and training and through community upliftment projects.

Exploration: South Africa

Joining a program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer.

Long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Many decide to travel before or after their experience (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.

Weekend trips

Skiing

South Africa might not come to mind as a top skiing destination, but at Tiffendale in the Drakensberg mountains you can rent skis or a snowboard and practice gliding down slopes.

Bungee jumping and ziplining

Awe-inspiring canyons dot the Drakensberg range, and many use the opportunity to experience the exhilarating thrill of bungee jumping for the first time. If you aren’t ready to dive headfirst into the canyons you can glide overhead, using the many zipline tours available in the area. This is an excellent way to see the spectacular landscape from a bird’s eye perspective.

Hoedspruit Reptile Centre

Learn more about Southern African reptiles by visiting the nearby ‘Kinyonga’ park, a name that means ‘little lion’ in Swahili in reference to the chameleon.

Kruger National Park

The famous Kruger National Park is a massive wildlife reserve where you can spot Africa’s big five, lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo, and, of course, the African bush elephant.

Further travels

Kalahari Desert

The rusty sanded expanse of the Kalahari stretches from South Africa, to Namibia and Botswana. Home to dunes reaching the heights of several buildings and a diverse range of wildlife, including the majestic oryx gazella, a visit to the desert is not to be missed.

Cape Town

Watch the African sun set over the top of Table Mountain, discover the southernmost point of Africa, Cape Agulhas.

Zululand

Further North, you’ll find the historic Zululand, as well as the grave and memorial of the famous leader, King Shaka.

Durban

Experience the unique cultural milieu of the coastal town of Durban on the coast of the Indian Ocean. Its warm waters make the city a haven for surfers.

Cultural immersion: South Africa

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.

Karongwe Private Nature and Wildlife Reserve

Boasting more than 20 thousand acres of open savannah, Karongwe features some of the best wildlife viewing of any private South African wildlife reserve. It features the entire big five, including the elusive leopard.

Limpopo

The Northernmost region of South Africa, the Limpopo province features some of the best opportunities for wildlife in Southern Africa. It is sparsely populated and borders Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

South Africa

Possessing one of the highest biodiversities in the world and the home to many of the most threatened African wildlife, South Africa is a nature, wildlife, and adventure lover’s paradise, featuring species like lions, cheetah, rhinos, and many other  unique species.

BONUS! Kick-starter online training for Early Career Conservationists (worth £295)

Conservation CareersFeeling lost in your conservation job hunt? Want to work in conservation, but don’t know where to start? Get your career on track with the Kick-starter online training for Early Career Conservationists designed to help you understand the job market, to navigate your career options, and to get hired more quickly.

Whether you’re at university and planning your next steps, a graduate in the job hunt or working in an unrelated job but interested to switch into conservation, this course is designed to help you.

This unique online course has been designed to increase your chances of success, and is being specially organised and run by Conservation Careers.

All you need to do is register your interest in the project below, and if you choose to make a booking we’ll save a place for you on our course when you get back from your placement.

Included in the course is a year’s full-access membership of the Conservation Careers Academy, which includes access to over 8,000 jobs, 1,500 training courses, live training events and many more career-boosting options.

Duration, dates and cost

  • 1 week – £1,945
  • 2 weeks – £2,245
  • 4 weeks – £2,845
  • 6 weeks – £3,445
  • 8 weeks – £4,045
  • 10 weeks – £4,645
  • 12 weeks – £5,245

Start dates are as follows:

  • 2021: 01 May; 15 May; 29 May; 12 Jun; 26 Jun; 10 Jul; 24 Jul; 07 Aug; 21 Aug; 04 Sep; 18 Sep; 02 Oct; 16 Oct; 30 Oct; 13 Nov; 27 Nov
  • 2022: 08 Jan; 22 Jan; 05 Feb; 19 Feb; 05 Mar; 19 Mar; 02 Apr; 16 Apr; 30 Apr; 14 May; 28 May; 11 Jun; 25 Jun; 09 Jul; 23 Jul; 06 Aug; 20 Aug; 03 Sep; 17 Sep; 01 Oct; 15 Oct; 29 Oct; 12 Nov; 26 Nov; 10 Dec; 24 Dec

What’s included

  • 24-hour emergency desk
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • First Aid & CPR training
  • Live and work in a protected reserve
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Research training
  • Reserve fees and permits
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Telemetry training as relevant
  • Terrestrial research training
  • Travel advice
  • Welcome meeting
  • Wildlife identification techniques

Increasing Employability: Pre Departure Program Training

Our programs are not only life-changing experiences but are also designed to help participants increase their employability. We have developed a curriculum to be completed prior to arrival in the country in order to ensure that more time is dedicated to program work once you commence your volunteer program.

Eight weeks prior to your start date, you will complete the following online courses in preparation for your in-country program:

PRE-DEPARTURE ORIENTATION (1 hour)

PROGRAM SPECIFIC TRAINING (1 – 5 hours)

OPTIONAL: WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COURSE (10 – 15 hours)

In order to obtain a certificate for the Wildlife Conservation course which is endorsed by the University of Richmond and UNC Charlotte, you will need to complete quizzes & assignments and will be given 4 weeks post program to submit your work.

If you are looking to travel in less than 8 weeks from now, you will still complete the course however this will be done in country and all content will need to be downloaded before arrival.

Health & Hygiene

The work we contribute to across the globe remains important and new measures allow our participants to continue to join our programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. Changes to our existing protocols have been made by our health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities. Please inquire for more information on the protocols.

What’s not included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • COVID-19: Health and Hygiene Fee
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Reserve your place or ask a question