South Africa — Wildlife Conservation Program

Make a real difference in preserving wildlife in South Africa

Get hands-on and out on the wild plains of South Africa where you will monitor and track animals in a protected environment.

Do something completely unique

The experience volunteers get on this SWAP program is totally unique and something they would never be able to do as a normal tourist on African reserves.

See Africa's "Big 5" animal species!

The vast reserve has an amazing variety of African wildlife - seem them up close and contribute to the upkeep of their protected land.

Volunteer Placements since 2002

Our trusted partner in South Africa has focused on volunteer projects since 2002, and we're proud to offer the opportunity for a more exciting and fulfilling travel adventure to Canadians.

South Africa — Wildlife Conservation Project

  • Protecting wildlife is a necessary means in South Africa, where many reserves and protected plains have been opened. Wildlife can roam the plains freely without threat of poachers, but volunteers are needed to make sure these reserves are kept up and running at full capacity.

    The reserve is a convenient 2.5 hour drive from Johannesburg and is filled with a rich cultural legacy and immense natural splendor. Boasting the Big 5 African animals (lion, elephants, black/white rhinos, leopards, and cape buffalo) as well as many other rare species such as the hyena, aardvark, pangolin, and aardwolf — every day is something new. Explore the cheetah-roaming grasslands and savannahs to leafy wooded mountains cut by deep rocky ravines. Historically, the reserve has never allowed hunting and limits the number of guests on the reserve at one time ensuring minimal human contact and the best experience of wilderness for the animals. You can also see a piece of history in the form of Bushman rock art — some of the earliest art forms known to humankind.

    Volunteers are needed for this essential conservation project. You will be directly involved with the researchers overseeing the project and report to them each day. Get ready to be active! You’ll be out on the reserve assisting with daily activities and any exciting occurrences that may arise — such as animal interventions.

    Every day is a new adventure. Here is a taste of some of the experiences you may have as a volunteer:

    • Animal release and relocation
    • Assisting with research projects
    • Participation in daily running of the conservation areas (e.g. anti-poaching)
    • Be the eyes and ears of the reserve (monitoring)
    • Feeding animals in the winter months
    • Daily monitoring of newly released animals in the wild
    • Alien plant and erosion control
    • Monitoring of vegetation
    • Exposure to highly qualified and dedicated conservationists
    • Legendary braais (barbeques) in the bush and stargazing

    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.

  • 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.

  • Volunteer Gallery

  • Local Support in South Africa

    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.

    • Airport pick-up services to the orientation centre in Johannesburg
    • A comprehensive 3-day orientation to prepare you for your placement
    • Local transportation to your project placement
    • ALL MEALS are included as part of the project placement
    • Our partner will provide ongoing guidance and support services throughout the full duration of your stay

  • Accommodation

    Volunteers are accommodated in a luxury permanent, tented site. There is a main building where the volunteers have access to a kitchen, social recreation area, research labs, and bathroom facilities with hot water, electricity, and internet access. The braii area and fire pit are perfect for evening sunsets. Once night arrives volunteers can watch and hear nocturnal life come alive as the animals make their great trek home, or awaken for the nightly festivities!

  • SWAP's Support and Resources

    • Support from SWAP staff to arrange and confirm your volunteer placement
    • SWAP's personalized assistance in reviewing and editing the necessary applications forms
    • On-location staff and managers to help ensure the program runs smoothly
  • Booking SWAP's South Africa Wildlife Preservation program

    Being part of the SWAP South Africa Wildlife Conservation project is easy! Download the Application Package, read through the information carefully, and complete the forms.

    When you have your application ready, register online HERE.

Help protect South Africa's most vulnerable species on a special project placement

Program Info

  • Eligibility

    Canadians ages 18+

  • Registration Timeline

    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. Orientation begins the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month, excluding December (see below for full details).

  • Program Length

    Two weeks + 3-day orientation

    Want to volunteer longer? Programs are also available for 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 weeks! Contact info@swap.ca for availability and pricing.

  • Length of Visa

    3-month tourist visa (you can stay in South Africa before/after your program ends)

  • Upcoming Start Dates

    Orientations start on the first and third Tuesdays of every month, available year-round!

  • Meals


  • For Only

    SWAP's South Africa Wildlife Conservation program is only $2200 $1700 CAD! That includes a 2-week volunteer placement on the conservation reserve, a 3-month volunteer visa, a comprehensive 3-day orientation in Johannesburg, plus full accommodation and meals for the entire length of your placement.

    Want to extend your stay? We also offer a 4 week program — Delve deeper into learning about conservation and get an extra 2 weeks of meals, accommodation, and unforgettable memories!