DESCRIPTION:  Short-term herpetofaunal diversity assessment.

FUNDING MODEL:  Paying volunteers.

SELECTION PROCESS:  Candidates seeking field work experience to develop skills to enter the conservation field will be given preference.


DURATION:  Thirty-one (31) days running between the 5th of January (arrival date) until the 5th of February (departure date).

COST:  Please enquire for rates. Rates for South African nationals shall be negotiable.

Verloren Valei Nature Reserve (VVNR) is a 6 061 ha protected area in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa, encompassing near pristine Lydenberg montane grassland vegetation situated along the Steenkampsberg Plateau. The reserve contains both wetland and grassland vegetation types which house high levels of both floral and faunal diversity including several taxa of conservation concern. The reserve has been declared a RAMSAR site due to the importance of the high-altitude wetlands for the Olifants-, and Crocodile River catchments. Whilst research and monitoring programmes have been conducted on a variety of faunal groups within VVNR, including its avifauna and mammalian carnivores, no assessments have centred on the herpetofaunal diversity of the area.

African Ecological Conservation Projects: South Africa (AECP:SA), a subsidiary of African Ecological Conservation Projects Pty (LTD), in cooperation with the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, the provincial conservation authority, have submitted a proposal to conduct a reptile and amphibian baseline assessment for VVNR, with the intention of long-term herpetofaunal monitoring. To facilitate and finance the field work of this baseline assessment, AECP:SA is making six paying volunteer positions available to join staff on VVNR to construct survey materials, install, inspect, and maintain pitfall and funnel trap arrays, as well as to assist with active daytime and night-time searches and the processing of captured specimens. As this project entails working with frogs and reptiles, including a variety of snake species, applicants will need to be comfortable around these animals as well as invertebrates which need to be removed from traps. Venomous snakes, such as the Rinkhals Hemaechatus haemaechatus, a venomous elapid which can physically project its venom, are common in the area. Whilst several game species do occur on VVNR, potentially dangerous wildlife are largely lacking. Due to the sensitivity of the environment on VVNR, surveys will be conducted on foot, with trap arrays being inspected daily. This project will take place over 31 days, from the 5th of January 2022, arriving at the accommodation, till the 5th of February when transport leaves the accommodation.

Ideal applicants should be fit, comfortable around herpetofauna, and preferably have studied-, or be in the process of studying conservation, ecology, or a related field, looking for field experience to further their skillset. Applicants must submit a covering letter and a brief CV to aecp.admin@aecproject.org. Applications should be submitted before the 30th of November 2021 to be eligible for participation.