|Start dates||First and third Monday of every month|
|Duration||2 - 12 weeks|
|Availability||Spaces available, fully booked from 20th Jan - 17th Feb and throughout Mar 2014|
|Cost||From £695 / $1095 - see pricing table below|
Volunteers help the park staff to feed and care for nine elephants which is no small task! Volunteers are an incredibly important part of the park and its research unit. They enable the park to include more individual elephants in their studies and to study these animals for longer periods of time, which allows for greater insight and understanding of this fascinating species.
Having volunteers to assist with the research has allowed the park to include additional projects into their schedule. The knowledge gained from this research adds to the advice they are able to provide for the optimal care and management of captive elephants. This is crucial for the wellbeing of captive elephants around the world as there is a significant lack of research carried out in this field.
There is also a personal satisfaction gained when the elephants start to recognise you and trust you; you will become part of the herd! Volunteers act as ambassadors for the park and its elephants by helping to spread the word about elephants and their research, welfare and conservation issues.
Read what past volunteers have said about this project in our South Africa Elephant Care and Research reviews.
Volunteers normally work 5 days a week with two days off (Saturday and Sunday), however you may be asked to work over weekends or evenings should the need arise. Generally volunteers start at 6.30am and finish at 5.30pm.
Volunteer jobs are varied but include the following elephant care tasks:
Volunteers' main activities will be assisting with research, this depends on the research being conducted at the time but could include monitoring behaviour, recording social interactions, night time observations, botanical surveys, studying feeding behaviour, dung, urine and other sampling for analysis, data input and analysis and the compilation of educational presentations.
This creates an awe-inspiring experience as you will be contributing to all aspects of elephant research, education, husbandry and conservation. As you are based in a large park, volunteers are able to get involved in all aspects including research, marketing, functions, maintenance, training, and guiding.
There are usually 7-9 volunteers at the project at any one time, with a maximum of 12.
The park began in 1994 when the owner discovered that the population of elephants in the area had plummeted from 400-500 to just 1 elephant cow in 118 years. The aim was to bring elephants back to the area. The park was the first captive elephant operation of its kind in South Africa. The purpose of the park is to provide a home to elephants in need, providing them with an improved environment, which they certainly get; the elephants are free to spend their days roaming within the 110 hectare park!
The park is well respected for its research efforts; it highlighted the serious lack of research done on captive elephants in South Africa, particularly with respect to their welfare and husbandry, within their own unique environments. Consequently, in 2009 the park established the first captive elephant research unit dedicated to captive elephants. The unit aims to conduct and facilitate research studies of elephants at the park and at other parks across South Africa and promotes ethical, non-harmful research of elephants. This research aims to guide management of captive elephants. Information that is also relevant to wild elephants will be used to improve their protection and conservation. The park aims to achieve conservation through education.
You’ll be living in the park which is located near Plettenberg Bay which is on the famous Garden Route (a popular tourist route due to its great beaches and numerous attractions).
During your free time you are encouraged to explore the local area. You may wish to explore the variety of tourist attractions that the Garden Route offers, these include bird sanctuaries, game and nature reserves, Monkeyland, whale watching, bungee jumping, surfing, sky diving and many more. There are discounts available to volunteers for many of these activities.
The volunteer house is located in the park and contains comfortable dorm style bedrooms. On a quiet night, you will probably be able to hear the elephants snoring from your bed! The rooms may be shared with two or three other volunteers depending on the number of volunteers present at the time. Each bedroom has an en suite bathroom with a toilet and shower. Volunteers have WIFI internet access at the volunteer accommodation. There is a fully equipped kitchen in the house for volunteers to prepare food.
|Before you go||On your placement|
|On your return|
|Not included: Flights, travel insurance, visa (if required), food. Budgeting guidance is provided in our information booklet which we will email you when you apply.|
PoD is run as a non-profit volunteer organisation. Fee levels are set to match costs and any surplus monies are distributed to the projects we work with via the PoD Charity - for more details click here.
For placements starting before 31 December 2013
For placements starting after 1 January 2014
Prices in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com
Erin in the PoD UK team has visited this project and is the placement manager so if you apply you will hear from her soon!
|Big 5 Wildlife Conservation
|All animal projects|
Combine two or more projects to make the volunteering trip of a lifetime!
"I think what you do for people and communities is absolutely amazing..."
Population: approx 49 million
Currency: Rand (ZAR)
Life expectancy: 52 years
Percentage living on less than US $1.25 per day: 26.2%
Number of threatened animal species: 441
Health & Safety: FCO travel advice
If you are interested in volunteering as a family we have a range of amazing projects suited for families with children under 18
We are passionate about volunteering and are dedicated to providing well supported projects where there is genuine need