Facilitated Wildlife Research Internship in South Africa

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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.

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Project Highlights

  • Customize your experience and study one species of your choosing throughout your wildlife internship
  • Live in one of the most beautiful areas of South Africa, which is home to the Big 5: lion, elephant, leopard, rhino, and buffalo
  • Gain practical experience in wildlife research methods, including wildlife and habitat mapping
  • Expand your existing knowledge and gain new insight into the behaviour of your chosen species
  • Learn how to use key research software and collect data for use in your own studies
  • Analyse raw data and help turn it into useful reports for land and wildlife management
  • Be supported by our Internship Mentor to help you realize and achieve your objectives
  • Work alongside a team of international and local experts, as well as fellow interns and volunteers
Elephants being fed by program members

Quick Facts

Greater Kruger Area, South Africa

Hoedspruit Airport

Specific Start Dates

8 - 12 weeks

Impact: Wildlife Conservation

$6,855 – $9,075


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. 

You will be staying at Olifants River Camp in the heart of the African wilderness. It is a traditional bush lodge set in a big 5 reserve with all the facilities and furnishings you need for a comfortable and authentic stay in Africa.The team are passionate about environmental conservation and it is reflected in how the lodge is run. Recycling, sustainable use of resources, environmental education, and the use of locally grown produce and ethically sourced ingredients are all important aspects of life at Olifants River Camp.

The accommodation includes 7 large dorm rooms overlooking the Olifants River. All the rooms have aircon and bathrooms. Some of the facilities include a swimming pool, outdoor fire pit where we have braais (BBQs), all set in a great shared social space.

We believe that the best way to learn about a people and a culture is through their food and food customs. Some examples of traditional South African meals our local chefs prepare for you as part of our delicious and nutritious menus include bobotie, a potjie, a Cape Malay-style curry or the experience and excitement of cooking on an open fire with a South African braai.

Braais (an African style BBQ) are one of our beloved traditions. However, although meat is the preferred braai food, just about anything can be thrown on a braai, so even vegetarians and vegans can experience this proudly South African tradition. Meals are provided 7 days a week at Olifants River Camp and we proudly cater for most dietary preferences.

To keep in touch with family and friends back home, Victoria Falls Backpackers has complimentary WiFi for you to use during your stay. You can also purchase a SIM card with data bundles if you wish. 

Although South Africa has the usual 4 seasons, there are 2 distinct seasons in the Greater Kruger area. The climate in Kruger is generally considered to be subtropical with hot weather throughout the year. The dry winter season is generally considered he best time for wildlife viewing. Animals tend to congregate around the limited water sources and the vegetation isn’t so dense, meaning animals are easier to find and view! However, the landscape is more lush and beautiful during the rainy summer season and baby animals are aplenty! 

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! 

A pride of lions walking towards camera.

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. 

Conservation volunteers conduting research at project location
wildlife conservation interns in Greater Kruger Area

Physical Ecology

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 and a professional researcher 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.


Other Activities

Recent Volunteer Reviews

Dates & Rates

When would you like to volunteer?

Give us an idea of your travel plans, you can also say ‘I’m not sure yet.’ We’ll take it from there.

How long would you like to volunteer?

This is the place to select your preferred duration(s). The African Impact team recommend at least 4 weeks for a truly memorable experience!

8 weeks $6855
9 weeks $7410
10 weeks $7965
11 weeks $8520
12 weeks $9075

Personal Information

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elephants in the river including two mums and baby elephants

Project Fee Includes:

  • Airport pick-up and drop-off
  • Accommodation throughout your stay
  • 3 meals a day cooked by a local chef (weekdays only)
  • Transport to and from project
  • Mentorship from our research manager
  • 24/7 support from experienced international and local staff
  • Full orientation to ensure you contribute responsibly
  • Training in the basics of programs, such as Google Earth Pro and QGIS
  • Project equipment and resources

Project Fee Excludes:

  • Flights
  • Medical or travel insurance
  • Visa-related costs
  • Weekend trips or tours, or any other non-placement activity
  • Snacks, soft drinks, gifts, and souvenirs
  • Laundry
  • Mandatory contribution of US$25 that is donated to the African Impact Sustainability Fund

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Frequently Asked Questions

At African Impact, we offer our Facilitated Wildlife Research Internship in the Greater Kruger Area in South Africa. (The one you are looking at right now!) 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. Not one intern experience is like another on this exciting project!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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