Conservation in South Africa and Botswana
- Placement location: Wild at Tuli, Botswana
- Role: To help conserve, study biodiversity, and maintain the reserve
- Requirements: None
- Main Research Focus: Elephants, baobab trees, inventory of fauna and flora
- Local Environment: African Bush
- Accommodation: Volunteer tents at base camp
- Length of placement: From 1 week
- Start dates: Flexible
Projects Abroad runs a nature reserve called Wild at Tuli in the wilderness of the Southern African Bushveld. We are based on the Botswana side of the Limpopo River, right on the frontier with South Africa. From hippos to elephants, and kudu to ostriches, this is the heart of wild Africa and an opportunity for you to experience living in a wild landscape teeming with animals.
The South Africa Conservation project involves a collaboration of different reserves and environmental groups in South Africa and Botswana working together. With the help of our volunteers we aim to conserve wildlife and bush ecosystems and to share knowledge about the diversity of the area. All of this takes place in an incredible location with skilled and experienced guidance from local staff.
This project is great for anyone with a passion for nature and the great outdoors. It offers adventure and the chance to learn about the fascinating world of African Bushveld Conservation. You do not need previous experience to contribute to this project. Volunteers are welcome on a gap year, a career break, for university research, or a volunteer vacation.
Your Role as a Conservation Volunteer in Southern Africa
Volunteers on this project can take part in a wide variety of activities, including:
- Elephant research studying population dynamics
- Baobab tree surveys and protection
- Soil erosion control
- Removal of old fencing
- Dam building and protection
- Helping construct natural water holes for animals
- Mammal and bird inventory using visual sightings at observation points, camera traps, and identification of tracks and signs
- Building viewing hides
- Clearing and repairing existing roads and designing and marking new roads
- Anti-poaching patrols
- Learning skills in animal and plant identification
Volunteers on average work five or six hours a day. The more strenuous work is reserved for the mornings when its cooler and you will have an additional two hours of work is done in the late afternoon. The middle of the day is normally devoted to eating, sleeping, swimming, relaxing, and keeping cool.
The work is divided up among all of our volunteers using a weekly schedule. Expert local staff are on hand to supervise activities and provide support.
The Aims of the Conservation Project in South Africa and Botswana
The project aims to create a protected conservancy, bringing together Projects Abroad Wild at Tuli and other reserves in the area to create a central Tuli block. Once this is achieved we can join a Trans Frontier Conservation Area, consisting of conservation blocks from South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. This is an exciting new initiative, combining conservation efforts across international boundaries, including game reserves, national parks, and conservation areas. It is all for the benefit of wildlife, local people, and future generations.
Reserves like Wild at Tuli are essential havens for wildlife. Drought, illegal hunting, desertification, and land degradation are major environmental problems in Sub-Saharan Africa. Human encroachment onto wild areas has caused wildlife populations to decrease. This all adds to the importance of legally protecting land to ensure the survival of African wildlife and preserving land in its natural state.
Wild at Tuli reserve is 5000 hectares and the conservation efforts are continuous. Volunteers will get involved in a wide variety of different on-going projects. Data collected across these projects is used to gain a greater understanding of the populations and their ecology, which is passed on to various co-operating groups. By joining forces we can create one powerful voice with an aim of conserving a big enough land mass to restore the original migratory routes of large indigenous mammals.
You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our Conservation Management Plan.
Where You Will Stay on the Conservation Project in Southern Africa
Accommodation at base camp is in 6-person, single-sex tents surrounding an open air communal area with a fire pit and kitchen facilities. This is where much of the food is cooked over a traditional open Braai - a kind of barbeque. There are hot water showers.
In your spare time at the camp, you can relax under the shade of the nearby trees with a good book. Some volunteers simply like to watch a magnificent African sunset or sunrise from one of the viewpoints from the fireplace. Due to the absolute wildness of this reserve, volunteers are never to leave camp without a qualified member of staff. A staff member, with one volunteer, will make weekly trips to town to help re-stock the fridge and pick up anything you've been craving since the last trip.
This project is available for less than a month if you don't have time to join us for a month or more. This project has been selected by our local colleagues as being suitable for shorter durations for both the host community and the volunteer. Although you will gain valuable cultural insight and work intensely within the nature reserve please be aware that you may not be able to make the same impact as someone participating for a longer period.
Volunteers should plan to arrive on a Monday whenever possible.
Please note that the maximum length of stay on this project is 12 weeks. The project also closes for 3 weeks over Christmas, from about the middle of December to early January.
I learnt a great deal from the staff. They taught us how to recognize track signs and droppings, how to find our way by looking at the stars, how to behave if we encounter a dangerous animal in the bush. Thanks to them I am now able to identify about 75 different bird species, some only by their calls, 30 mammal species and a dozen of reptiles. As a biology student it was really interesting to talk with them and I was impressed by their knowledge of the bush. Read more...
If you are a high school student and first-time traveler you may want to consider our High School Special programs in South Africa.