In 2014, the South African government reported that a record 1020 rhinos were killed by poachers. As South Africans move to face the problem, national parks and reserves are increasing the amount and quality of monitoring of local rhino and elephant populations in order to protect these critically endangered and vulnerable species. This is where you come in.
The Mutogomeli Rhino and Elephant Initiative is run on a vast, rugged reserve north of Johannesburg (Limpopo). "Mutogomeli" means "Guardian" in the Venda language, and volunteers are needed to represent this idea in helping to monitor and guard rhinos and elephants from poachers. New conservation tactics and research projects are also underway on the reserve for all of the wildlife, which features the "Big 5" African species (black / white rhinoceros, African elephant, African lions, Cape buffalo, and African leopards). This is a very hands-on volunteer placement, so volunteers should be adventurous and enthusiastic! You will join a passionate team that will provide real help where it is needed and protect rhinos, elephants, and the other species living there.
Volunteer tasks include:
Volunteers (in addition to the staff) will patrol the reserve and obtain visual sightings of the rhinos as well as record their movements to produce accurate range maps. Teams will also maintain a presence in and around the area where the rhinos are travelling. In addition to that, volunteers will also be monitoring local elephant populations in order to better understand their impact on the reserve.
Volunteers will also help with buffalo habituation - allowing better management of the disease-free herd.
For reserve management, volunteers will participate in a number of duties as necessary. This may include tasks such as bush clearing, checking water holes, capturing game, patrolling fences and boundary maintenance. These duties are essential for protecting all living creatures on the reserve.
You'll also go on an amazing Kruger National Park safari! On Day 1 you'll travel with the other project volunteers on an air-conditioned bus to your accommodation for an evening dinner. Bright and early on day 2, you'll see breathtaking landscapes, including Blyde River Canyon, Bourke's Luck Potholes, Berlin Falls, and God's Window before continuing on day 3 to Kruger National Park to see the Big 5 of African wildlife! For those brave souls there is also the chance to go on the Graskop Big Swing (or you can just take in the view while on solid ground). Day 4 will take you back to Johannesburg or the continuation of your volunteer placement, so all transportation is taken care of for you.
Note on program lengths: While this program is designed for a 2 week placement, there are longer programs available if you wish to volunteer more time! Extended placements for 4, 6, and 8 weeks can be arranged - just contact us for more details.
Get support from the local staff during your placement! They have been hosting foreign participants for years and will make your volunteer placement as comfortable as they can.
The Elephant and Rhino camp is situated on the reserve with thatched chalets, a main dining area and lounge as well as a swimming pool. Each chalet has electricity, a bathroom with flushing toilet, shower (hot water), and basin. All meals are provided.
The reserve itself is a vast, rugged area in the northern part of the Limpopo province. There is a mountain range and a number of different eco-systems and habitat that makes for a haven for South African wildlife.
Being part of the SWAP South Africa Mutogomeli Rhino and Elephant Initiative is easy! Download the Application Package, read through the information carefully and complete the forms.
When you have your application ready, register online HERE.
You will be funding and providing the person-power behind a passionate team determined to make a lasting difference in protecting and conserving rhino and elephant populations in South Africa.
Canadians ages 18+
Minimum 8 weeks prior to your preferred start date. The program dates can fill up fast, so register as early as possible - dates subject to availability (See program forms for the specific 2016 program dates)
Two weeks + 3-day orientation (and a 4-day Kruger National Park safari)
3 month tourist visa (you can stay in South Africa before/after your program ends)
Fixed start dates on the first Tuesday of each month, available year-round (see program forms for specific dates)
SWAP's Mutogomeli Rhino and Elephant Protection Initiative program is only $2600 CAD! That includes a 3-month volunteer visa, 2-week volunteer placement Mutogomeli Rhino and Elephant Protection Initiative, a comprehensive 3-day orientation in Johannesburg, an exciting 4-day safari in Kruger National Park, plus full accommodation and meals for the length of your placementTake the 1st step ››