• Wildlife Conservation

Why you should consider volunteering in South Africa with animals

Article by Zaytoen Domingo

Zaytoen Domingo

Posted: November 14, 2019

When volunteering in South Africa with animals, you can gain career experience and have more meaningful wildlife adventures. GVI’s wildlife conservation volunteering opportunities are a great option for animal lovers. 

South Africa is safari nirvana. One of Africa’s best wildlife destinations, South Africa, features epic wilderness populated by some of the greatest creatures on the planet. If it’s wildlife you want to see, South Africa is where you want to be. 

Your wildlife experiences don’t have to be limited to spotting South Africa animals from the confines of a safari vehicle, though. For a more enriching experience that gives you the chance to get closer, see more, and contribute to protecting the wildlife you have travelled to see, consider volunteering with animals in South Africa.

There are a number of reasons to choose GVI’s ethical and sustainable animal volunteer programs as your mode of discovering South Africa animals. 

Have more meaningful wildlife experiences


In South Africa, animals draw visitors from around the world. Going on safari to spot the “Big Five” is one of the country’s signature tourist activities. 

However, safaris are often more focused on spotting animals rather than learning about their behaviour, environment, and the conservation challenges facing them. 

Volunteering programs or conservation internships in South Africa provide a more meaningful alternative to safaris. As well as memorable wildlife experiences, you’ll gain greater insight into the local biodiversity and conservation issues. 

For example, when you volunteer with wild animals, you’ll go on safari conservation drives, which are much more involved than a tourist safari. You could help to navigate through wildlife reserves, use telemetry equipment to track predators, and record data captured on the trip. 



So as well as spotting a range of creatures, you’ll be adding to bodies of research that can inform their conservation. 

Help to protect South Africa’s incredible wildlife


South Africa is one of 17 recognised megadiverse countries – nations that are home to the majority of the planet’s species. 

South Africa’s wildlife inventory is vast and impressive. The country is home to the largest rhino population on the African continent. A range of big cats, including leopards, cheetahs, and lions, are all found in South Africa. 



The riverine rabbit, one of the most endangered mammals in the world; the blue crane, South Africa’s national bird; and a population of around 12,000 elephants –  up from a low point of only 120 animals in 1920, according to Cites – are all found in South Africa. 

GVI’s wildlife conservation volunteering programs give you the opportunity to help protect South African animals. You could contribute to cheetah conservation, work on a hyena research project, or study and protect South Africa’s unique birds

Develop a career in conservation


Choosing to volunteer with animals in South Africa could be your first step on a wildlife conservation career path. 

With comprehensive training and ample opportunities for hands-on work experience, GVI’s wildlife programs make a great starting point place for budding conservationists. 

A wildlife internship is a great way to get a taste of what it’s like to work in conservation and decide whether or not this field is for you. 

If you’re keen to launch your conservation career, safari field guide training is a comprehensive way to learn more about South Africa wildlife and gain skills desirable in the conservation field. The 23-week program will equip you with a range of skills and qualifications that you can apply to many conservation career opportunities. You can also choose an optional placement which gives you further practical experience within the industry. 



GVI’s other volunteering opportunities will also give you skills necessary for a career in conservation, such as research and data collection techniques, and the ability to identify and track various animals. You could also learn specific skills such as camera trapping or conducting biodiversity surveys

Experience life at the heart of the African bushveld


Volunteering in South Africa with animals is a chance to experience South Africa’s wilder side. Spending longer in a more remote area is a unique opportunity to enjoy wildlife in the wildest way. 

GVI’s base for wildlife projects in Limpopo, South Africa, gives you access to remarkable wildlife opportunities and the chance to live in an area of stunning landscapes. 

Limpopo is the northernmost province in South Africa and shares borders with Botswana, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. The province is known for being warm and sunny, with low rainfall. 

Living at GVI’s base is an immersive experience. Tucked away in the bush, far from the bright lights and fast pace of cities, you’ll be constantly surrounded by wildlife. You’ll wake each morning to a chorus of native birds and fall asleep to the sounds of endemic frogs and crickets, after basking in the rich red glow of a savannah sunset. 

The famous Kruger National Park is only an hour away, so you can explore some of South Africa’s highlights from our base. 

The volunteer experience is simpler and more rustic than a safari lodge but can be much more satisfying if you want to experience life in South Africa’s incredible bushveld. 

For the ultimate wildlife experience, volunteer in South Africa with GVI. Browse our volunteering programs and internships to find your next animal adventure. 

By Zaytoen Domingo

Zaytoen Domingo is a content writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She is currently enrolled in the Masters program in English at the University of the Western Cape. After graduating with an Honours Degree in English and Creative Writing, Zaytoen completed a skills-development program for writers and became an alum of the GVI Writing Academy.
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