Join an active research team collecting data on African elephants to guide best practice management of captive elephants worldwide. Work hands on with the elephants providing care and enrichment. Live on the famous Garden Route which is ideally located to explore South Africa.
Volunteers contribute to all aspects of elephant research, education and husbandry. Volunteers’ main activities will be assisting with research, this depends on the research being conducted at the time but could include:
Volunteer other jobs are varied but may include the following elephant care tasks:
Volunteers normally work 5 days a week (Monday to Friday) with weekends off. Generally volunteers start at 6.30am and finish at 5.30pm.
There are usually 8-12 volunteers at the project at any one time, with a maximum of 12.
Read about volunteer experiences and challenges in our South Africa Elephant Care and Research reviews.
Volunteers help the park staff to feed and care for nine elephants which is no small task! Volunteers are an important part of the research unit. They enable the research unit 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 research unit 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 important for the wellbeing of captive elephants around the world.
Volunteers act as ambassadors for the research unit and its elephants by helping to spread the word about elephants and their research, welfare and conservation issues.
“Without volunteers, many of our research projects and husbandry duties like providing enrichment for the elephants wouldn’t be accomplished. By having trained volunteers in the field monitoring them we can see on a daily basis the changes in behaviour and even spot medical issues before they become problematic. They also show that people all around the world want to care and protect elephants.”Abi, Volunteer Coordinator
The park began work in 1994 aiming to bring elephants back to the area after numbers had plummeted from 400-500 down to just 1. The park was the first captive elephant operation of its kind in South Africa.
The park provides a home to elephants in need, providing them with an improved environment, healthy diet, enrichment and access to veterinary care.
They 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 conducts and facilitates research studies and promotes ethical, non-harmful research of the elephants on site and at other parks across South Africa. This research aims to guide management of captive elephants to promote the best possible care. 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).
The volunteer house is on site and contains comfortable dorm style bedrooms. The rooms may be shared with two or three other volunteers on a same sex basis. 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 and there is a dining area a living room where volunteers can socialise.
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.
Not included: Flights, travel insurance, visa (if required), food. Budgeting guidance is provided in our Volunteering Guide which we will email you when you apply.
|3 weeks||£1095||GB Pounds|
|4 weeks||£1395||GB Pounds|
|Extra weeks||£260||GB Pounds|
Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com
hours of research conducted each year
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“I had an awesome time and will definitely come back - the local people, guides, staff and fellow volunteers were all amazing. One of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences I've ever undertaken.”Read more volunteer reviews
“Having been able to contribute in the research and care of these magnificent animals fills me with pride and working together with other volunteers has been a tremendous joy. The weeks truly flew by.”Read more volunteer reviews
“This trip was, amazing! Every one of my expectations were exceeded, and I can see now how others who have volunteered on this project fell so hard in love with the people, the environment and of course the Elephants.”Read more volunteer reviews