Wildlife ACT

About

Wildlife ACT actively advances wildlife conservation by conducting ongoing & essential monitoring projects on reserves in South Africa. Wildlife ACT performs these conservation services free-of-charge and completely relies on volunteer support to fund the work. We are supported by the WWF and have a very high percentage of returning volunteers - who range anywhere between 18 and 65+. All that is required is a positive attitude and a willingness to make a difference. Those interested are encouraged to visit the Wildlife ACT website to learn more.

Founded
2008
Headquarters

99 Hope Street
Cape Town
8001
South Africa

Reviews

Anton
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My two weeks with Wildlife ACT surpassed any of my expectations of what I was heading in to. Getting involved in a research group and taking part of the daily monitoring of endangered species was so rewarding and fun as well. The opportunity to spend fourteen days in the bush with a mission to help researchers with conservation of wildlife, is an opportunity I would recommend everybody to take. A typical day is getting up early in the morning heading out with the jeep and target one of the focused groups, say a lion, with monitoring equipment. While this task is being performed the sun rises, the birds and insects start their day and the forest are buzzing with life. When the lion is found; time, place, behaviour and other data is collected and then the search for some other species is started. In that way it continues along with encounters of other animals that is also fantastic to see. It was truly an amazing experience for me and I will definitely go back when time is given in the future.

Bram
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had an absolute amazing experience with Wildlife ACT.
The way the projects are organized is very personal and efficient. You get to visit several nature reserves in Kwazulu-Natal which is a stunning natural region.
The contribution you have with the small groups together with the professional and enthusiastic monitors feels very important.
You will help WACT with everything thats most urgent and they will learn you a lot about the nature and everything that matters for wildlife conservation.
This unique exhange of work and knowlegde is of great importance to gain attention on wildlife conservation.
Personally, the best thing of WACT is that the result of what they are doing is just for the african wildlife. Nothing more, nothing less.

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Simone
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

If you are wondering about having a real, impactful, meaningful way to spend your vacation helping with conservation - this is a (if not the) great opportunity.

The teams are small, you get to interact a lot with your monitor and colleagues on the back of the car, you get to know how the conservation work with ecologists, rangers, reserve managers is run and monitoring animals and animal populations is just ... great and worth every minute spent outside, in the back of the car. The monitors are really skilled, both academically and in practice. there are lots of good stories, hands-on work collecting data about the animals in the reserves and great visuals - sunrise, sunset, etc.

It is well invested money, it is worth spent the time. I came back with a completely different picture of conservation work, and why I would go back to Africa or other continent to watch nature. Every hand was helpful there, and I came back thinking about my return.

What would you improve about this program?
Volunteers come to help and, of couse, see the animals. If it happens that one reserve has a certain condition that we don't get to see anything, it would be good to have a discussion after some days, if the volunteers could not be rotated to other reserve.
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Tina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My experiences with Wildlife Act have been absolutely amazing and unforgettable; an experience like this is something that will stay with you forever, and I guarantee you’ll leave a piece (or two) of your heart in South Africa. With these projects, you get to be part of real conservation, learning from amazingly dedicated and knowledge wildlife monitors, being part of a small team of international volunteers, and of course seeing the wildlife in their natural setting. There is nothing like having an African elephant walk past you, seeing a lion out roaming around, or spotting the African wild dog pack; an experience most people will never have. Most days you will be up before the sun and out on the truck all bundled up in the dark, which means you’ll be taking in the stunning sunrises; the morning tea/coffee break will become a favourite time of the day. You will use telemetry equipment, a GPS device, and learn about triangulation (it’s not scary) to help in finding your priority and endangered animals, making notes on tracks (spoor) you come across on your journey if the monitor deems it important. Though sometimes you may not find the animals you are looking for, or you may spend a couple of hours waiting for a lion to wake-up from their afternoon nap, there is no shortage of things to see; there is ample bird life, plants and trees, as well as other animals all around the reserves. While you might be out searching for the wild dogs/lions/cheetah or other animals, you just might run into a curious spotted hyena, or see a vulture having a meal, or maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have a hippo or leopard cross your path. Generally you go out twice a day, and the only thing that beats that stunning sunrise, is the sunset (just something about them in South Africa) followed by the giant open sky filled with stars. You spend your spare time in the afternoons and evenings back at camp with your team, often relaxing or chatting and cooking/braaing. Each time you go out, you know that the information you are gathering and the sightings you are part of, is actually used towards real African conservation; you being there is making a difference, plus it’s really cool and fun.

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Anne
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I spend two weeks with Wildlife Act and it was an incredible experience.

Seeing the animals in the natural habitat was a treat in itself, but obviously something that can be done in many ways - but for me, Wildlife Act was the perfect way to enjoy the wildlife while doing something worthwhile.

We stayed at the research facility, so we got to see the data we collected actually being put into use. It was also great to have the extra people around. Sitting around the bry at night, eating kudo, drinking beer and chatting to the researchers was a lot of fun.

We had two monitors. They were incredibly different, but both of them really brought something unique to the experience. Marumo and Mike are passionate and knowledgeable and truly taught me a lot. They're also good company - we definitely had fun while working.

And hey, coming home you even start to miss having a toad or a lizard in the shower with you.

I'm definitely an experience richer!

What would you improve about this program?
We could have had a bit more work to do. I did like being able to chill and just sit in the moment, but I wouldn't have minded a few extra tasks. Even data-entry or stuff like that - just something more to keep us busy and make us earn our sundowner.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

Alumni interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Tina Stehr

Tina is from Vancouver, Canada. She works at a big 4 global accounting firm as a partner assistant, and has volunteered at a local wildlife rescue for the past 6 years, leading her to become a serious #birdnerd.

She had always wanted to travel to Africa; she is currently planning her 3rd trip back with Wildlife Act.

Tina Stehr

Why did you choose this program?

After doing a substantial amount of research online and a lot of questions to various organizations, I knew Wildlife Act was the best fit for me.

It's an opportunity to not only go see South Africa, but you also get to work with a great organization and help them with their conservation efforts. It's the best of both worlds: you get to see the animals but also be part of their conservation, learning from people on the ground.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Wildlife Act assisted with answering all questions, and they provide transport to the reserves once at the Richards Bay airport.

They also provide the name of a few guest houses in Richards Bay if you arrive early. It's up to you to organize getting to Richards Bay from wherever home is. Not to mention, they also supply all of your food for the time you are there; it is up to you to cook and to supply any snacks or drinks you may want.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Be prepared for varying weather. Also, remember South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, so your season at home may be very different than where you are going.

Bring warm & wind/rainproof clothing. It's Africa, but it's still cold at 4am on the back of a truck with the wind, and depending on the season, it does rain and you have no cover.

Also bring sunscreen, it is Africa :)

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Depending on which reserve you are at, you will go out for 2-3 sessions a day, with the possibility of 1 day for data entry (all the info you collect).

The morning sessions start normally well before the sun is up as everyone is bundled up on the back of the truck (with the very important cooler containing hot water, coffee/tea and rusks for your later break). You return to camp in the late morning to eat or relax until your next session. Normally you will go out again in the late afternoon, returning a little after the sun has set. You will get to experience the amazing sun rises, the beautiful sunsets, and the giant sky full of stars.

While out, you will be tracking various animals, depending on the priority for the wildlife monitor. You will be using telemetry equipment, along with a handheld GPS, and a triangulation app to find your animals, stopping to make notes and take a data point for anything important that you come across.

You will have dinner with your group once you're done for the day (maybe even a braai), before getting ready to head out the next morning.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear for this trip was traveling half way across the world alone, to Africa. A lot of planning and a lot of questions to Wildlife Act helped relieve some of the stress, but my desire to go was more than my fear of the unknown.

Now that I have traveled to South Africa alone twice, I know what to expect and have no issues with this travel; I'd go back right now if I could!

What are the groups like?

You will be placed with a max of 4 other international volunteers, and you will have 2 awesome wildlife monitors (they alternate sessions, but they do get days off so you may have 1 with you most of the time). These people quickly become your bush family, and likely lifelong friends, as you experience this adventure together.

Staff Interviews

Staff interviews are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Galen Schultz

Job Title
Digital Marketing Manager
Galen has pursued many jobs in his life but finds working in wildlife conservation to be the most meaningful and most enjoyable by far!
male headshot

What is your favorite travel memory?

Spending a month traveling through Indonesia solo. This was an incredible experience and I made friends from all over the world. By the end, I did not want to leave! I considered a life of surfing, working via the Internet and spending the majority of my life in Bali...

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

Visiting any African country is pretty much underrated. People are so quickly put off by the thought of getting murdered. While it's important to stay safe, it shouldn't deter one from visiting 'third world' countries.

Overrated in my mind refers to any destination that is more tourist-orientated than local - i.e. places that no longer possess a genuine local charm.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Having staff that WANT to work for you who truly believe in what they are doing. People need to know that their work is meaningful and that they are not simply a pawn or cog in a big machine making a few at the top rich through their hard labor.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I went from being totally disheartened by the thought of having to endure a 9 to 5 job that I didn't particularly enjoy, to actually wanting to work - knowing that I am helping to make a genuine difference in the world. Nothing is fake anymore.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

Family-like relationships with their staff; completely open and transparent; taking everyone's feelings and ideas into account; progressive; doing incredibly admirable, on-the-ground, difficult work that is truly making a difference for the planet. Never giving up.

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of your current team

Approaching Google and applying for Google Grants, which they granted us based on the nature of what we do!

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

That their experience with us genuinely changed their life... (and the same has been said by several returning students).

More Interviews

Professional Associations

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