Welcome to Umkhondo Big-5 Wildlife Volunteering

Where friends become family

Escape from the ordinary and immerse yourself in a month of personal interaction with some of the most charismatic mammals in Africa, brought to you by this team of passionate and experienced wildlife staff.  The program allows up-close experiences with wild lions, elephants, buffalo, rhinos, and possibly the rarely occurring leopards, as well as other South African wildlife – all within malaria-free, private game reserves. You can rest assured that you will be able to get to know the unique wildlife of Africa in a safe, controlled and responsible manner.


That's right, no specific skills needed... But we want volunteers who .

Here is some of what you can expect to experience at Umkhondo:

  • Game Counts
  • Telemetry Tracking & Cheetah Research
  • Animal Feeding
  • Erosion Control | Soil Rehabilitation
  • Alien Invasive Plant & Weed Removal
  • Fence Patrol | Maintenance & Bush Clearance
  • Important Specie Conditions & Parasite Monitoring
  • Road Maintenance & Bush Clearance
  • Animal Behavior Studies & Research; Medicinal Plant Identification & research.
  • Anti Poaching & Night Drives | Patrols
  • Game capture and translocation
  • Basic soil studies
  • Fauna and flora, and related research
  • Basic vehicle maintenance and repairs
  • Boma elephant care and nutrition
  • Take part in different rural community projects
  • Learn some bush cooking skills “boskos”
  • Wilderness camp and basic survival skills (only for volunteers here for more than 4 weeks weather dependant)
  • Conservation projects (planting trees, seed harvesting etc.)
  • Marine ecology and beach clean ups (optional extra)

Your typical day may consist of the following:

Start the day with breakfast then followed by doing a rhino patrol to find the rhinos. Every morning will include a basic tracking lesson where possible.
Tea Break
Tea break is at 09:30 in the reserve, after which you will start/continue with a project. Projects include erosion control, road maintenance, alien plant removal, predator feeding and enclosure upkeep where needed, elephant boma cleaning, cutting browse for elephants, constructing vegetation exclusion plots, vegetation fixed point photography, and planting out trees and seeding tree species that occurred before agriculture.
We all eat lunch together at 13:00
Afternoons are used for research and monitoring. This includes dung sampling, game counts, species behavioural studies and research, water testing and treatment, plant, bird and insect identification, supplement feeding of certain species, small mammal surveys, etc
We all eat lunch together early evening
Night Time
We also do night drives to identify nocturnal animals and plot their position and behaviour.

Group Experiences

At Umkhondo you will experience what it’s like to work on, and run a Big-Five game reserve.
Each day brings a new adventure…

We take in five to ten volunteers at a time who work with the farm and wildlife teams where day-to-day tasks vary.

GETTING your hands dirty is part of the job!

Veterinary Work Experience

This course/experience is designed for people either already qualified as vets, or someone that is in the process of becoming a vet (preferably 3rd year or more into veterinary studies) and veterinary nurses. The course is designed to be a hands-on experience where veterinary volunteers will be involved in all facets of wildlife capture and veterinary procedures

Backpacker Opportunities

Have the weekends free to explore the nearby backpackers (hostels). We are situated close to the best backpacker experiences in South Africa.

Nationals from the European Union, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand:
At present, you do not need a visa to enter South Africa and will be granted a temporary Visitors Permit valid for up to 90 days providing you have:
a) a pre-booked return flight within 90days

b) a passport valid for at least 6months.
PLEASE NOTE: If you do not fall under one of these countries, then you need to arrange a visa in advance. We will not be held
accountable for any persons entering South Africa and then being deported due to incorrect paperwork.

No, weekend activities and transportation is not included! Please ensure that you budget correctly for the activities, accommodation as well as transport.

  • The reserves we work on have natural spring water or bore holes.
  • The volunteer house has water supplied by the natural spring
  • We drink rain water (you may purchase bottled water this in not included as the rain water is safe)
  • No false advertising, we are happy for you to contact previous volunteers
  • You can see the difference you make
  • We are a small permanent team and take in small groups giving everyone a personalized experience
  • Our volunteers become our friends
  • Anyone who loves the outdoors and wildlife
  • Anyone wanting to learn more about South African Wildlife
  • You need to be physically fit and speak English.
  • We have high running costs as we feel volunteers work hard and should live comfortable and eat well.
  • When profit is made it goes back in into the program to make improvements
  • Donations to the reserves we work on in the form of planting indemic plants
  • Donations to local schools and educating them on the importance of conservation.
  • Elephant research goes to EMOA
  • Cheetah research goes to  Endangered Wild Life Trust
  • Field data like game counts go to the individual reserve managers and owners for their records.
  • 18 years and older
  • Volunteers under the age of 18 will be considered individually and need a guardians consent.
  • School groups with chaperones are welcome
  • Yes we cater for vegetarians, vegans, lactose intolerant, gluten free and diabetics often.
  • Please enquire for other meal restrictions
  • No we suggest having a tetanus injections, however it is not compulsory.