Endangered Wildlife Volunteer Programs in South Africa - Wildlife ACT

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Get directly involved in some of the most exciting & important conservation work being done in Zululand, South Africa - an area which resounds with the heartbeat of Africa and which is one of the most diverse & productive wildlands on Earth. Join Wildlife ACT on the ground to save endangered & priority wildlife species: African Painted Wolves, Rhino, Cheetah, Elephants, Lions, Leopards, Vultures and more. It’s Real Africa, Real Conservation, and the experience of a lifetime. Ages 18 to 70+ If you want to visit the real African wilderness and be part of real wildlife volunteer work, Wildlife ACT is looking for you.

Our WWF-supported and Fair Trade Tourism certified projects are conducted on national game reserves in South Africa. Wildlife ACT was recognized for their conservation work by being awarded second place in the whole of Africa for Best for Habitat & Species Conservation 2017.

  • Fair Trade Tourism Certified
  • African Responsible Tourism Award Winner
  • Rhino Conservation Awards 2017 Winner
  • WWF-support Conservation Work
  • Partnered with Wildlands, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the Wildlife Conservation Network, Panthera & others

Questions & Answers

Hi Sheillah, Thank you for your query. We get a lot of people asking about employment opportunities within Wildlife ACT. With the conservation environment being as dynamic as it is, and with our goal to expand our conservation efforts, we are always interested in keeping potential candidates on file for when the need arises. We do, however, mainly look for potential wildlife monitors who are...


based on 33 reviews
  • Impact 9.4
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.3
  • Value 9.1
  • Safety 9.2
Showing 16 - 30 of 33
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Magical experiences with Wildlife Act

Ok, I find it quite hard to write a review about something so special when you're not there anymore, but I will do it because I want to do this...

Our time at wildlife act was really special, the people who were there, the things we saw, all the experiences we had, it is all so much and so difficult to explain... You have to go there yourself!

As a photographer I thought it would be somehow hard for me to join the project, because I figured we would not always be able to make pictures all the time... And when something happens you have to be ready!
But ok, I told myself that my main focus would be the voluntary work and not my photography...

You can imagine that when you are out in nature every day, you'll see lots of photogenic things! And trust me even when you are not really a photographer, you want to make pictures! The Wildlife Act program is so nice because you have lots of time to enjoy those special moments and to take pictures or write about it even...

It is really nice to go out every day with nice people who know a lot about the animals and nature in particular and to be able to really help them with the conservation work they are doing. As a tourist you would never see the things we saw or experience the things we did. It is also great that you are with a small group of people, so that it really feels exclusive...

When I was joining the project it was winter in Holland and summer in South Africa and I am not really a winter person, so this was perfect. Everything just became really nice and green when we arrived in Thembe, also still a lot of young animals. The only thing that was a little bit hard was getting up at 3:30, but after a few days you get used to that and you also WANT to get up, because you know you will miss everything if you don't.... And you really don't want to miss a thing while you are there!

The reason why you get up so early is because the African Wild dogs are waking up at sunrise, so you have to make sure you will find them before they wake up. They move so fast that it is hard to catch up when they are already gone. The purpose of finding the dogs and follow them is to know what they are up to; Are they all ok, is every single one of them still there, did they eat? Hunt? etc. Wildlife Act uses all that information for conservation purposes. And at the time you are there, you are part of it all... Also; if a dog, or lion or cheetah (etc.) needs to be darted you are there to help them...

While you are out looking for wild dogs, cheetah's, lions, elephants, rhino's (depends on where your monitor is focusing on) you obviously see a lot of different other wildlife, like us, we also saw a leopard, Python, cobra, giraffes, hyena's and lots of different birds of prey... And I was really happy not to see any mosquito's, or black mamba's :>)

I could go one about my experiences, but it is just so much... First of all for me it was a really inspirational experience and second, I was happy to meet some really special people.

But the most important thing... There in the South African bush, with all those beautiful animals and breathtaking nature I found something really important:


Thanks Wildlife Act for all the special memories!

And for people who are thinking about joining one of the projects; don't think... Go, GO, GO!

Want to see my photography?

www.marleen-bos.com (south africa, wildlife act)

Yes, I recommend this program
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4 perfect weeks!

Every day some surprises - nature and wildlife amazing, Tembe Elephant Park and Hluhluwe-Imfolozi are great and we spent adventures days with the expereinced staffmembers and learnt a lot. The challenges of wild dog protection and conservtion was obvious, the dogs are here and there, have troubles with lions and hyaenas - to collar them seems easier, than it really is. It was a great experience recommendable to everybody!

Yes, I recommend this program
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A month to remember with Wildlife ACT

I have just returned from my third visit to Wildlife ACT as a volunteer and still totally hooked on it.
My first two weeks were spent at Thanda a private reserve of 15000 hectares set in beautiful undulating bush. Within the first week whilst we were monitoring the pack of Wild Dogs we had seen almost all the main species i.e.cheetah,Lion,Leopard,Giraffe,Cape Buffalow,White Rhino in fact a total of 14 mammal species,except the elusive Elephant Herd. During the second week we were asked to assist with locating and the capture of two male lions one morning.They were being relocated to another reserve to avoid inbreeding within the pride.We found the two Lions with a Lioness. The Vet darted them and we helped load them into a truck whilst the lioness watched us from a distance of about 40 meters.All in a days work with Wildlife ACT !!
My second fortnight was spent at Tenby Reserve which is known for its Elephants.There are over 240 of them. Tenby (30000 hectares)is a different Habitat from Thanda it has rare Sand forest, reed beds,and a swamp in addition to Savanna and bush so the species are varied. I was lucky ,in addition to monitoring the Wild Dogs and Elephants on a daily basis we were asked to assist with Lion ,Wild Dog and Elephant capture for the purpose of fitting radio collars. The latter had not been done at that reserve for five years and involved the vet darting them from a helicopter and we were the ground team fitting the actual collars.Very exciting.However with Wild life you cannot guarantee seeing everthing its not a Zoo.
The team at Wildlife Act are very proffessional and fun to be with and will doubtless keep you busy.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Out of this world!

I have visited this project twice now and both experiences were inspiring and educational.
I was amazed at how close you can get to some of the worlds most amazing animals and you really do feel like you are contributing to the brilliant work that Wildlife Act does to protect these amazing creatures.
I have had the pleasure of working with nearly all of Wildlife Acts project leaders and found their knowledge and enthusiasm for their work truley inspiring.
Wildlife Act made it very easy to contact them before my trip and I was given enough information to know what was needed for this kind of work.
My accommodation was clean and cozy and the view from my room was even better!
I enjoyed every moment of my 2 month adventure with Wildlife Act and would suggest this project to anyone who wants to get back to nature and see these animals how they should be seen....in the wild!!

Yes, I recommend this program
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A Fantastic Experience

Wildlife Act is a great comapany to go through. Helping the "painted dog" was really exciting. Just spending time out in Zuland was fantastic. I definitely recommend this program!

Yes, I recommend this program
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An Amazing Experience

I spent a month volunteering this year with the Wildlife ACT team. They work on 4 different parks in South Africa, and I spent a week at each park. It is an amazing experience, and you get much, much closer to the animals than on any safari. We were out at dawn every morning tracking African Wild Dogs, Cheetahs, and Lions. Because you are working on an official conservation project, you get to go where no tourists are allowed. You work in a small team of 4 people, led by a professional wildlife monitor. The monitors have great knowledge and enthusiasm, and they really enhance the experience. I very much recommend this program to anyone with a love of wildlife.

Yes, I recommend this program
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A life time experience

We stayed at Mkhuze Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal which was just beautiful. The accommodation was good, and better than expected with a shower and hot running water. Seeing the sun rise and set over the reserve, was just something else. We went in August and the cold mornings and evenings, sat in the back of the truck was a surprise, and we were wearing layers and fleeces - do take a wooly hats and gloves!

I can not recommend more highly the wonderful support you get from the staff. Bronwen is just so helpful, and even made a cake for my stepson's birthday! Cilla, our monitor was so knowledgeable and made a real difference to our understanding of conservation and Africa.

WildlifeAct are special. We've made lifelong friends and developed a love of the African Bush. It really isn't a safari, it's far deeper than that, it get's under your skin.

Yes, I recommend this program
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I have taken part in programmes with Wildlife ACT on two reserves - Thanda and Mkhuze - and hope to return to one of the other reserves at some point. This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone interested in South African wildlife to get involved in useful research and conservation and to see an amazing variety of creatures up close. We were tracking mainly wild dog and cheetah and I will never forget looking into the eyes of those beautiful cats from just a few metres away, as well as spending almost two hours watching two cheetah brothers devour an impala. How often do you get the chance to do that? It also gives you the opportunity to meet other people with similar interests. I have such wonderful memories of the sights and sounds of the bush and can't wait to get back there as soon as I can.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Incredible Experience!

I had a really great time with Wildlife Act. I was Mkhuze for two weeks, and wish I could have stayed longer! The staff is very friendly, and the wildlife monitor I had was fantastic. He was really fun and taught me so much!
The best part of Wildlife Act is how hands-on it is. You're with the animals everyday and I really felt like we were helping them! The highlight of my two weeks was darting a young cheetah, who we fitted with her first collar so we could monitor her.
I recommended Wildlife Act to anybody who wants an exciting, hands-on experience with African animals.
I can't wait to come back!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Can't Wait to Go Back!!

I guess the best review I can post is that I'm planning to go back to work with Wildlife ACT in early 2012. Last April I wanted to travel to Africa, but could not find anyone who wanted the same type of experience I did. I am 54 yrs old, from the US and decided to go alone! Wildlife ACT was perfect. Even when I encountered flight problems, they knew where I was and were there to make sure I got to the reserve. I never felt alone.

I spent two weeks at Thanda reserve (1 of 4 reserves where Wildlife ACT is based). Our main focus for the time was tracking the newly re-released Wild African Dog pack. The knowledge, passion and skills of the staff was impressive. The bush is their home and we made it ours for a short (too short) time. I felt comfortable with them as they were relaxed and fun, yet I knew they were always vigilant for our safety.

My favorite memory is the giraffes that would be right outside my living quarters in the afternoon and the other animals that roamed freely through the camps. There is no way I can tell you how the time in Africa impacted me. I have a facebook page "South Africa Calling" with pictures and video links about my time with Wildlife ACT in Zululand this past April.


Yes, I recommend this program
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Best Volunteer Experience of My Life

I volunteered with Wildlife Act in 2009. Probably once a month I scheme about how I can go back / lament the fact that South Africa is so far away. It was one of the most incredibly experiences of my life and I promise it will stay with you. The staff is incredible; the hands on experience with the animals is remarkable; and spending time in the African Bush is life changing.

The staff makes sure you are safe, #1. Still, about once a week I would say to myself, "I can't believe they are letting us do this." Certainly you can't find an experience like this in America.

Highlight for me: walking with cheetah!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Behind the Scenes in Africa

My husband and I volunteered for two weeks on the Thanda Reserve as part of our honeymoon, and wow, what a great two weeks. Thanda is a beautiful private reserve with a great variety of scenery from hills, plains, watering holes, trees, and bushland and we got to know it pretty well while canvasing for animals in the back of the truck.

One surprise we found was that "getting up with the sun" happens a lot earlier in Zululand than it does back home...3:00 or 3:30am. We got used to that pretty quickly and were always eager to start the day with the telemetry equipment in search of wild dogs, black and white rhino, cheetah, lion, elephant, leopard, and more. Many, like giraffe and warthogs, we saw as they sauntered or ran through our camp. Pretty exciting. Our job was to find the animals and track where they were and what they were doing. It was particularly exciting to find and watch the pack of wild dogs; many of which were born earlier that year.

Our highlight was really learning about wildlife management from experienced, passionate conservationists and seeing what happens day-to-day to manage the land and animal resources in the area. For example we spent nearly three days locating a white rhino (who knew such a large animal could be so hard to find and keep in front of you!), helping vet and other staff to get her on her feet after being darted and "walk" her into a huge moving van so she could be relocated to another reserve where breeding would be more successful for her. There isn't more hands-on work than actually touching a beautiful animal like that.

The days volunteering were long, some eleven hours, and it was purely magical every day to locate the animals, learn about their day-to-day activities, spend all day outside in a beautiful area, and to be with such great staff. My husband and I highly, highly recommend volunteering with Wildlife ACT and to be part of their efforts to protect such amazing animals.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Utterly fantastic!!

The time I spent with the WildlifeACT team was one of the most memorable and incredible experiences of my life. I had always dreamed of going to Africa to work on a game reserve and this is the real deal! Their motto, 'real africa, real conservation' absolutely sums up they project. As a volunteer you are put to good use and help with the vital conservation work the team are doing. I learned how to use the radio tracking equipment that is used to locate animals such as the African Wild Dog packs, cheetahs and, on a night trip, hyenas, and along with another volunteer, I picked out photos that would be used to identify the rhinos and elephants we saw in the future. You see some of the most amazing animals on our planet and know that you are genuinely helping to conserve them. One of the most unforgettable moments I had was watching two adult bull elephants washing and playing in a water hole. Watching how the older elephant interacted with the younger male was incredible and at one point the older elephant came within 10 metres of our vehicle!
I would recommend using the facility of being picked up from the airport. This is how most volunteers get to the the meeting point before meeting who they'll be working with and going on to the game reserve where they'll be staying.
If you are thinking about going, I would say go for it! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that you should not miss! I will never forget my time in Africa, and I am planning on returning for part of my gap year... I can not wait!!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Wildlife ACT volunteer at Hluwhluwe-Imfolozi

In July 2011 I've participated for two weeks, worked at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi and enjoyed it very much.
A well organised project in a beautifull reserve., Good accomodation, with a communal kitchen and hot showers(!!).
The monitor, Cathy, is a very experienced, enthousiastic and responsible woman.
Monitoring the painted dogs was great, these are exceptional social animals. Working with camera traps was great fun.
Wildlife ACT is involved on four different reserves in
KwaZulu Natal. I would love to participate again.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Many unique experiences in the African bush.

volunteering with wildlife ACT was one of the highlights of my life. It was an amazing experience working in the field and watching the animals in their natural habitat. One does not really understand what conservation means until participating in one of these projects. Lasting friendships were made with people from all over the world. Camp life was also a unique with many fond memories.

Forget what you ever thought about working in the field in Africa.......It is totally different. This is one project that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in connecting to nature. YOu will not regret it. I look forward to a return visit.

Yes, I recommend this program


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About Wildlife ACT

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...