Join us in the South African bush for two, four, or six- weeks as we explore various techniques for field data collection and monitoring on a course that is the perfect blend of hands-on, field-based learning and classroom lectures. Learners who complete the six-week course are eligible to become certified with CATHSSETA as a Research Assistant.

This course is ideal for:

  • People working in the field of conservation and assisting with field research and conducting monitoring in the terrestrial and marine environments
  • People interested in different research methods and learning how to apply these in the field for their own research or to assist researchers
  • People working in the guiding/tourism industry who are interested in research methods and assisting visiting researchers in the field
  • Anyone who is planning to or is currently completing an ecology, conservation or environmental sciences qualification
  • Anyone who is interested in being a volunteer for organisations that offer volunteer programmes that include research and monitoring

We work on different reserves and private game farms, that often have all or some of the Big 5. We provide a service of collecting data to suit a need of the reserve or farm owner, the techniques that we use are in line with the required technique on the reserve and are techniques used internationally, allowing for the skills learnt to be used in research and monitoring worldwide. The data that we collect are not only used by our participants to do their assessments, but to assist reserves and private farm owners to better manage their properties, and ultimately lead to better conservation decisions being made.

Course Outline:

 Learners have the option of joining the course for either two, four, or six weeks. Each two-week segment will build on the one previous to it, so a longer stay will allow for a more in-depth understanding of the principles and techniques on which we focus throughout the course.

Week One & Two: An introduction to the field of Research and Monitoring

  • An introduction to conservation principles and ethics
  • An introduction to ecology and ecological principles
  • An introduction to research and monitoring techniques
  • How to use a field guide

The research focus during the first two weeks is on doing vegetation surveys- using Alien Invasive Plants in a Nature Reserve or on a Private Farm as a case study. The techniques learnt are in line with techniques used by researchers and monitors worldwide, and therefore can be applied to research and monitoring projects around the globe.

Week Three & Four: Terrestrial Ecology and Survey Techniques

This segment of the course builds on the introduction learned in the previous two weeks. Much of the course is spent out in the field, practising and perfecting various research and monitoring techniques, which may include:

  • Conducting basic rapid biodiversity assessments
  • Conducting basic visual encounter surveys
  • Qualitative assessments of dominant indicator species

These are done in conjunction with:

  • Vegetation surveys
  • Data collection on alien invasive plant species infestations
  • Camera trap surveys
  • Game counts
  • Collecting and preserving specimens, such as tree and grass samples

Other survey techniques may be included if there is a need expressed by our partners; for example, a vegetation survey focusing on Elephant Damage Assessment in a Game Reserve.

Four-week students will complete a final assessment report, which can be submitted up to a month after the course.

Week Five & Six: Marine Ecology and Marine Survey Techniques

The course affords participants the opportunity to spend a large portion of their time in the field, learning not only about the research and monitoring techniques, but also having the opportunity to spend time in nature and learn by being immersed in nature and the marine environment.

Where time and opportunity allow, we also do guided bush walks and early morning or evening game drives, for the enjoyment of it, and for participants to learn more about the African bushveld, and have some photo opportunities.

During the course, learners will complete various assignments and practical tasks, with a final report to be submitted up to a month after the course ends. Should you successfully complete all of the requirements of the assessments, you will receive a certificate of completion for this course stating the modules and techniques covered in the course.

All training, and assessments are in line with the nationally accredited Skills Programme, Research Assistant.


For the majority of your stay, you will be in dormitory-style housing with shared bathrooms at Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve in the heart of Yellowwood Park, Durban. You will have access to a shared kitchen and large lounge area. On the nature reserve, you are able to take advantage of the many walking and biking trails Stainbank has to offer and can enjoy the abundant birding and forests found in this part of KwaZulu Natal. We encourage you to explore all that Durban has to offer on your time off- our beautiful beaches are only a 20-minute drive away!

While on practical, you will stay in a variety of accommodation types, depending on the location. Most of the time this will be in shared double tents, with access to shared ablutions and a kitchen facility. Depending on the game reserve, cellphone reception may be limited.

Throughout the course, food will be provided, and you will share cooking and washing up tasks as part of a “duty team.” A laundry service will be provided weekly.

About Us:

Chrysalis Nature College is directed by Monica Maroun, who has been involved in education since 1993. We specialize in providing top quality conservation and ecotourism education to people from around the world.

Chrysalis has been formally involved in “edutourism” since 2014, hosting various academic groups from South African universities and schools, as well as international groups. We have recently launched this short-course to allow participants the ability to gain in depth knowledge in the field of nature conservation and to inspire a new generation of ecologically-minded global citizens.

Minimum Requirements:

  • Ideal ages: 18- 30
  • Proficiency communicating, reading and writing in English
  • Relevant visas for international students
  • Good level of physical fitness

Dates and Costs:

2 weeks: R 14000

4 weeks: R 28000

6 weeks: R 42000


12 August 2019

Course costs include:

  • Training manual and Assessment workbook
  • Cost of all assessments
  • Food
  • Accommodation
  • Arrival and Departure transfer from King Shaka International Airport
  • Transfers to the reserves we will be working on
  • 2x Chrysalis Nature College T-shirts and a cap

Not included:

  • Field Guides (we have some spare copies, but it is recommended you have your own)
  • Binoculars
  • Cost of flights
  • Cost of visa

To register or to request more information, please contact [email protected]

Visit our website: www.chrysalistraining.co.za

Social media:

Instagram: @chrysalisnaturec

Facebook: Chrysalis Nature College