FACILITATED WILDLIFE RESEARCH INTERNSHIP
Join our research team in the Greater Kruger Area and gain professional experience on a conservation-driven research initiative and wildlife internship. This unique personal development opportunity will allow you to design-your-own field research placement around an African species of your choosing.
The Greater Kruger Area encompasses over 20 private wildlife reserves on the west side of the world-renowned Kruger National Park in South Africa. These private reserves come together to create one big reserve. A significant contribution to wildlife conservation efforts, helping to protect and preserve one of the world’s last remaining wildlife strongholds.
The whole area comprises almost 5.5 million acres of unfenced land where animals roam freely across wild savannah. The Greater Kruger Area is a major hotspot for wildlife conservation and offers endless opportunities for wildlife encounters with iconic animals such as elephants, lions, rhinos, and wild dogs. Many of these animals are endangered or vulnerable.
Situated on the banks of the Olifants River your home during your time with us will be at a private base camp which is open to the Kruger National Park. You will experience a safari-style camp with everything you need for a comfortable stay, including a swimming pool, viewing deck, WiFi, hot showers, and an outdoor area for star gazing and socializing.
2 cooked meals a day and a help-yourself breakfast
At the lodge there is free WiFi to enable you to make contact with home through WhatsApp, Zoom etc. It is also easy to purchase a Sim and add Data credit to allow you to use your own phone to stay in touch.
The project is situated in the Lowveld - a semi-arid region. We are blessed with warm summers. Summer season (October to March). Summers can be wet and hot. The hottest months are usually December, January, and February. Winter Season (April to September). Winters are dry and sunny. The Coolest months are June and July. It does get cold at night and early mornings.
PROJECT IMPACT AREAS
Thanks to intern Manon, we now have over 60 identikits of wild dogs, across different packs. This has transformed our data collection for the Endangered Wildlife Trust, as we can now easily determine which pack we are seeing out in the field and use photos to identify which individuals in that pack are present, and which are not.
Thanks to intern Jurre, we have much greater insight into the behavior of two cheetahs who were recently reintroduced to a nearby reserve. Monitoring them on game drives and GPS data, Jurre was able to show whether temperature and rain affected the cheetah’s movements, as well as how much of the reserve each cheetah was using. This is the first research of its kind done in this reserve, so there’s plenty more to do.
Thanks to intern Martina and many others, we will soon be able to determine the abundance and density of leopards in the immediate area. Through camera trapping, incidental leopard sightings, and the use of an existing identification database, interns are able to statistically analyze this data using a capture-recapture model and work towards the greater goal of understanding the leopard population here.
PROJECT IMPACT AREAS
WHAT CAN YOU STUDY?
We are incredibly lucky to live smack-bang in the middle of one of the most diverse and exciting wildlife hot-spots in the whole of South Africa, home to the iconic ‘Big 5’; lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo. As well as cheetah, and even wild dog. This gives you an extraordinary opportunity to study some of the most famous African wildlife, while also opens doors to studying some of the lesser-known creatures of the bush and these African safari animals. Mammals aren’t your thing? Then how about birds, botany, or climate change? If your chosen species or topic aligns with our greater mission here in the Kruger, you are welcome to study it on your wildlife internship!
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
Regular research game drives and bush walks will allow you to collect data on the location, and behaviour, of your chosen species, while at the same time spotting some of Africa’s most amazing other animals. You will also join volunteers during game counts, which will enable you to assess prey and predator populations and distributions. From this, you will then help analyze the data and turn it into reports that are given to our partner reserves and conservation partners to assist in the preservation of your chosen species. Through training on useful analysis techniques such as QGIS, you will learn how to map the data we collect to determine things like distribution, social networks, family relationships, and corridor use.
CAMERA TRAPS AND OBSERVATIONS
If you choose to study an animal species, our camera trap surveys will allow you to assess animal movements out of hours and collect data on your chosen species in their natural habitat. As part of this wildlife internship, you will be responsible for organizing and uploading these images to our Camerabase software and helping to produce comprehensive reports that help our wider conservation team. It is this data, as well as what you have collected on your research game drives, that will be presented to our team at the end of your placement.
If you are studying botany or birds, we’ll ensure that you get time to undertake other observation sessions by-foot and work with you to provide opportunities for learning.
You will also get involved in physical conservation tasks like clearing encroaching bush or invasive plant species removal, which helps us restore animal habitats and provides you with a greater understanding of how the ecosystem is connected.
Physical conservation work is a vital part of wildlife conservation (and a lot more fun than you would think it would be), so you will have plenty of opportunities to get your hands dirty. Whether you assist in getting rid of snares or removing invasive species, the work you do is key to the survival of wildlife and the success of wildlife conservation in the area. It transforms the land back into a healthy habitat where wildlife can flourish.
PRESENTATIONS AND MENTORSHIP
You will take part in weekly meetings with your internship mentor, a professional researcher, and a Professional Development Coach to discuss the project’s aims, your strengths, and identify weaknesses so that you are able to grow not only as a person but professionally as well. Outside of these meetings, you will also enjoy a myriad of presentations on wildlife, ecology, habitats, and threats predators face.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Wildlife Internships in Africa
What African wildlife internships are available?
At African Impact, we offer two unique wildlife conservation internships: our Facilitated Wildlife Research Internship in the Greater Kruger Area in South Africa. (The one you are looking at right now!) and our Rewilding, Reserve Management, and Sustainability Internship in Namibia. The beauty of this particular wildlife research internship is how customizable it is! The possibilities for how you structure your intern experience on our Facilitated Wildlife Research Internship are truly endless. Study the impacts of wildlife tourism on local lion prides. Analyze the health of grasslands in response to increasing global temperatures. Or, research the rising and falling populations of wild dogs in the area. If you have a vision for what species or focus within wildlife conservation you'd like to research, we can likely accommodate it. No one intern experience is like another on this exciting project!
What does an African wildlife internship entail?
Get ready for the ultimate blend of adventure and research experience! Before beginning your placement, you'll decide upon a specific animal or plant species you'd like to study. You'll then spend your days in the heart of the stunning Greater Kruger Area, where opportunities for incredible wildlife encounters and research opportunities are abundant.
How do wildlife conservation internships help nature?
After collecting all your findings, you will compile your analysis into an official wildlife conservation report alongside our professional research team. Not only is it an excellent CV booster for you, but this report will also be copied and sent to various game reserves, NGOs, and conservancies in the area, informing conservation decisions on how best to protect your chosen species.
What's the difference between wildlife research internships and wildlife research volunteering?
While both are incredible experiences, our wildlife research internships are generally more research-focused and customizable than our volunteer projects. These internships are ideal for anyone looking to gain professional practice in wildlife conservation, engage in innovative research to put on their CV, or would like to have a more academically-focused experience.
What qualifications do you need to participate in an African wildlife internship?
We generally don't require any previous academic or professional experience in wildlife conservation for this internship. Instead, we kindly ask that interns applying are passionate about African wildlife, interested in gaining work experience in the field of conservation, and eager to get their hands dirty in some seriously incredible research. Get ready for an epic adventure!
With the world-famous Kruger National Park right on our doorstep, going on safari will be at the top of your list of things to do during your stay in South Africa. It is the largest game reserve in South Africa, and by far, the best. Mountains, savannahs, rivers, and tropical forests make up the landscape of Kruger National Park. The Big 5 – lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, buffalo – are the most well-known residents. But hundreds of other animals call the Kruger National Park home, so keep your camera ready!
The Panorama Route is a must-do during your time in South Africa. A weekend road trip along the Panorama Route gives you a chance to explore its wonders, including the spectacular Blyde River Canyon. It is the third largest canyon on Earth. Two of the best ways to experience the canyon is on a white river rafting trip or microlight flight. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, Three Rondavels and God’s Window are the best viewpoints. Waterfall chasing is another highlight of the Panorama Route. The most impressive waterfalls are Berlin Falls, Lisbon Falls, and Lone Creek Falls.
After the day’s excitement, you can relax beside the pool, have a drink at the bar, watch a movie, or enjoy a games night with the other interns and volunteers. We often have presentations by guides and staff members, which is a great way to learn more about the African environment and its inhabitants. You can also get involved in fundraising events such as games and quiz nights. Dinners on our viewing deck are a highlight at the Bushriver Lodge. As are the marshmallow roasting get togethers around the fire!
Once you have submitted your application, a Destination Specialist will be in-touch to discuss the project with you.