Limpopo, South Africa

Volunteer in Limpopo

Join a safari conservation experience like no other.

Our research station is situated on a private game reserve in Limpopo, and is home to lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, buffalo and rhino. You will work and live alongside these extraordinary animals as part of an international research team assisting in critical wildlife conservation work.

Critical science

Critical science

You'll contribute to vital conservation research targeted at protecting the earth's most valuable ecosystems.
Ethical engagement

Ethical engagement

Using the UN's SDGs as a framework, we've made a commitment to positive, constructive and sustainable impact.
Beautiful adventures

Beautiful adventures

You'll spend your days exploring some of the world's most breathtaking, exhilarating and remote wildernesses.

Overview
Program types
Species
Location
Frequently Asked Questions

Wildlife conservation volunteering in South Africa

As a wildlife conservation volunteer, you’ll explore the wonders of the South African savannah on thrilling game drives, a completely immersive safari conservation experience that offers a unique blend of adventure, education and personal growth – not to mention the chance to help create robust conservation strategies for a remarkable ecosystem. The area is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including the famous Big Five: elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard and lion.

GVI’s remote research station can be found where sprawling savannahs meet lush bush-forests and meandering rivers, a region that boasts one of the highest densities of game species on the African continent. 

This is an area of unparalleled beauty and ecological significance.

As a wildlife conservation volunteer, you will assist wildlife and conservation research teams – and work closely with field guides – in the following areas: 

 

  • Data collection
  • Wildlife monitoring
  • Habitat restoration
  • Community outreach

 

Participants in our wildlife conservation programs also engage in community development initiatives. Through our partnerships with local schools and education centres, volunteers and interns contribute to education-focused projects, promoting community engagement and connections between people and wildlife.

Wildlife conservation challenges

The South African savannah faces numerous conservation challenges:

 

  • Poaching: This remains a pressing issue, particularly for iconic species such as rhinos, whose horns are tragically sought after for their perceived – but completely useless – medicinal properties. 
  • Human-wildlife conflict: Increasing human population size has increased the frequency of human-wildlife interaction, which has led to conflict – for example, between farmers and wild animals. 
  • Habitat loss: Encroaching urbanisation and land conversion also means that crucial habitats are shrinking, putting pressure on the key species in those habitats. 

 

GVI works in partnership with local reserve management and other organisations to directly address these challenges through research, education and community engagement.

GVI offers a range of meaningful opportunities to make a tangible difference in the conservation of wildlife in Limpopo.

Wildlife conservation volunteering

Unlike traditional safari trips, these programs allow you to actively contribute to the research and long-term conservation of South Africa’s natural resources. You will work alongside passionate individuals committed to protecting a vulnerable ecosystem. No special skills or qualifications are needed as our experienced field team will provide all necessary training.

 

You will:

  • Help implement conservation strategies to safeguard incredible species, including the African Big Five.
  • Learn how to track and identify predators like lions and cheetahs, as well as megaherbivores such as elephants and rhinos. 
  • Collect data that assist reserve authorities and conservation organisations in understanding predator-prey dynamics, spatial movements, behaviour, social structures and genetics. 
  • Help lead environmental conservation education and outreach within the local community.

 

Field guide training with Bushwise

For those who want to go beyond volunteering to pursue a career in wildlife conservation, our sister company Bushwise offers several theoretical and practical professional field guide courses. 

Offered in partnership with FGASA (Field Guide Association of Southern Africa), and providing in-depth knowledge of Southern African fauna and flora, this comprehensive training fully qualifies you to become a field or safari guide working across conservation, ecotourism or other wildlife industries. 

Ideal for launching a successful career in the African safari lodge industry or various international wildlife conservation fields.

What species will I work with? 

The majesty of African elephants. The graceful movements of cheetahs. An elusive leopard skillfully navigating the treetops. A prehistoric rhinoceros – whose very existence is threatened by the scourge of poaching – taking a mud bath. These are just a few of the remarkable creatures you’ll encounter as a conservation volunteer in South Africa, and your contributions will directly impact their survival.

Big cat research and conservation

Working alongside international research teams specialising in African big cats, including the lion and the leopard, you will collect data on: 

 

  • Spatial utilisation
  • Inter-species interactions
  • Prey preferences

 

You will learn how to track lions, cheetahs and leopards across the research area, helping reserve authorities track the impact and preferences of predators on prey populations and help them make decisions about maintaining the health of the ecosystem within the protected area.

Elephant, rhino and buffalo research and conservation 

Unlike traditional safari tourism, this program offers a unique opportunity to actively participate in research and conservation efforts. In collaboration with local conservation organisations, you will join forces with participants and GVI field staff from around the globe, engaging in a diverse range of long-term conservation initiatives.

Megaherbivores – like elephants, rhinos and buffalo – play a vital role in maintaining ecosystem health. They ensure the spread of plants across habitats and reveal water sources during dry periods, which benefits other animals too. However, their unchecked populations can also pose challenges to the habitat as they uproot plants to satisfy their dietary needs.

As part of the program, you will work closely with a trained GVI researcher, tracking rhinos, elephants and buffalo in safari vehicles. Your observations will encompass population count, age, sex, behaviour and identifying characteristics.

Rhino poaching awareness

Rhinos face a critical threat of extinction as they are relentlessly hunted for their horns.

South Africa is home to both the critically endangered black rhinoceros and near threatened white rhinoceros. Our international conservation team, operating in the Limpopo, has forged partnerships with local organisations to raise awareness about the devastating consequences of the illegal wildlife trade. On this project, you will directly contribute to the conservation of a pivotal species, preserving the biodiversity and ecological processes that rely on their existence.

This program gives wildlife conservation volunteers the opportunity to learn about the global issue of poaching and how international and South African organisations are working on poaching prevention. Wildlife conservation volunteers also assist with fundraising efforts and create promotional materials to support anti-poaching campaigns. 

You will also deliver environmental education workshops in the local community.

Cheetah conservation and research

Cheetahs face increasing threats such as habitat loss, poaching, competition with other predators, weakened genetics and climate change – which have led to it being classified as “vulnerable” on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. 

As a wildlife conservation volunteer in Limpopo, your main focus is studying cheetah kill behaviour. Teaming up with researchers and participants from around the world, you’ll track cheetahs across the savannah using telemetry and safari vehicles. Once located, you’ll observe their feeding habits and conduct follow up data collection to study:

 

  • How much they eat from their kills.
  • How and why they abandon kill sites.
  • If other savannah predators steal their kills.

 

When safe, there may be opportunities to view cheetahs on foot.

Famed for its temperate climate and beautiful coastline that stretches across two oceans, South Africa is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world – and one of the only places where the natural world’s most elusive and charismatic animals can still be found in the wild. 

GVI operates in two bases in South Africa: 

  • Limpopo: Our wildlife conservation research station.
  • Cape Town: Our community development hub that focuses on outreach and education. 

 

Limpopo 

Our research station in Limpopo offers the quintessential safari experience, a must-see travel destination for wildlife enthusiasts. Located just 45 minutes from the town of Hoedspruit, the reserve is home to a number of species – including elephant, rhino, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, impala, lion, leopard, cheetah, spotted hyena, honey badger, baboon, vervet monkey, mongoose, warthog, bushpig, porcupine, aardvark, civet, hippo, crocodile and terrapins. Many bird species can be spotted, particularly around the large dams and along the rivers.

As a wildlife conservation volunteer, you will live and work in the heart of the African savannah and work to help local authorities and expert research teams implement effective conservation strategies.

Cape Town – community development

Known as the mother city, the beautiful and cosmopolitan Cape Town is at the top of every must-see list. 

If you are interested in our South Africa community development work, our base in Cape Town offers programs specialising in: 

 

 

Visit our GVI People for more information on our community development programs.

What is the difference between the Kruger Park and the Greater Kruger?

Kruger Park, officially known as Kruger National Park, is a renowned wildlife reserve in South Africa. It encompasses a massive area and is world-famous for its diverse wildlife populations, including the Big Five. The Greater Kruger National Park refers to the larger conservation area that extends beyond the boundaries of Kruger National Park. It includes private game reserves and concessions, allowing for a more exclusive and intimate safari experience.

Where is Greater Kruger National Park?

Greater Kruger National Park is located in northeastern South Africa, spanning across the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. It shares borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe, forming part of the international transfrontier conservation area known as the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.

What is special about Kruger National Park?

The Greater Kruger National Park is a true wilderness gem. It is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and remains one of the world’s foremost conservation areas – the only place where the unique species found in sub-Saharan Africa still thrive in the wild.

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