nature conservancy volunteer
volunteer conservation projects
conservation projects abroad
conservation volunteer opportunities
The Shamwari Conservation Experience is a once in a lifetime chance to get behind-the-scenes and involved with the conservation efforts of the world-renowned Shamwari Game Reserve. This is a call to action for your support and assistance, without which the achievements past, present and for the future, would simply not be sustainable and viable. Shamwari is the pioneer and leader in demonstrating how the conservation of wildlife, fauna and flora can be achieved through Eco Tourism. You can join the team of dedicated individuals who are passionate about nature and all it has to offer. Shamwari, best known as a luxury safari destination, is a fully operational 25 000 hectare Big Five game reserve.

You will be exposed to various short and long term conservation projects and the need for assistance by the award-winning Shamwari Wildlife and Conservation Department. The Madolos Retreat lodging in the far Northern extent of Shamwari Game Reserve, is aptly named after conservation doyen, Dr Ian Player, who was instrumental in saving the Southern African white rhino from the brink of extinction in the early 1960’s. Facilities are geared to comfortably host and service guests on a two per room-shared basis. As result, they are able to get participants involved in various components of conservation, wildlife and community work. The experience is thus a true reflection of the day to day operational requirements needed to manage the game reserve and its vast resources.

Shamwari has hosted behind-the-scenes operations and experiences for volunteers, gap-year, adult sabbatical and adventure seeking travellers for several years, developing specialized skills and knowledge in conservation, with a key focus on the conservation of wildlife, ecological and community work. Environmental education, social upliftment projects and partaking in sporting interactions with largely impoverished local communities, are an important part of the social responsibility drive, to improve the lives of those living in and around the reserve. Safari type game-viewing vehicles are used to traverse the reserve and surrounds, hosted by experienced and qualified conservation and guiding staff. It’s a malaria-free area and are only one and a half hour away from the closest major airport, medical facilities and other amenities in Port Elizabeth. The passionate and dedicated team looks forward to hosting you and showing you all that Shamwari and its abundant natural resources have to offer you.

LONG-TERM PROJECTS & POSSIBLE ACTIVITIES There are far too many activities to mention and highlight. Listed are a few of the general activities and tasks which are undertaken and you view what they have been up to more recently, by joining us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as detailed.

Game Monitoring: Rhino, Elephants, Predators
With regular monitoring, it is possible to identify individuals, compile information about the family structure and determine feeding and spatial ecology. Data collected is used to assist in the managing decisions for the reserve. Game Count Annual game counts are conducted to establish the carrying capacity of the reserve. Game counts assist in the decision making of predator to prey ratios and the movement of animals on or off the reserve.

Telemetry Tracking Monitoring of some high-profile animals like cheetah and leopard are required using telemetry tracking equipment as result of the neighbouring properties carrying livestock and the elusive nature of some of the species.

Restoration & Rehabilitation of Reserve Landscapes
The need to return the once pristine landscape to its original splendour includes the collecting and removal of old fence lines and rehabilitating degraded and overgrazed land.

Research Projects
Undertakings of research projects with a focus on a value-added outcome for the reserve or conservation as a whole, are viewed as an incumbency. These projects are often undertaken in conjunction with both local and foreign research and academic testing to capturing data on lesser known species such as the Brown Hyena.

Alien Plant Control
Exotic and alien plants were introduced to the land by the farmers for different reasons and uses. Today this exotic vegetation needs to be removed to be able to increase the natural biodiversity and decrease the likes of fire risk and better preserve the fast diminishing natural water sources.

Born Free Foundation Charity
The Born Free Foundation Charity and Shamwari Game Reserve are both committed to the conservation of wildlife. Creating awareness and educating the guest and local population as to the importance of the protection and conservation of wildlife, they aim to promote the protection of habitat, while maintaining a humane and compassionate approach to the care and welfare of any captive animals. This centre offers a great opportunity to showcase and create awareness about the horrific way in which wildlife is exploited in captivity around the world.

The visits to the centre are conducted with the overall focus on education and raising awareness as to the plight and ill treatment of these and other captive animals. No breeding of cats is undertaken at the centre which is sanctuary for Lions and Leopards who are unable to be reintroduced back into the wild. Your interaction with this team may range from a personalized behind the scenes tour, to assisting with maintenance and cleaning of enclosures and at times even feeding and other tasks required to ensure that the cats enjoy the peaceful existence they deserve.

Animal Rehabilitation Centre (ARC)
Shamwari ‘s Animal Rehabilitation Centre, along with its registered veterinary clinic, was established to aid in the rehabilitation and even rescue of injured or orphaned wildlife, sometimes from surrounding game reserves and communities. With an aim is to give the animal the best in required care and a focus on release back into their natural environment, participants may gain different types of exposure through this experience, which dependent on the needs and requirements of the operation at their time of stay, may range from merely observation, to a more hands on animal care.

Community Projects
The role of conservation does not stop at conserving nature alone, but also includes a responsibility to uplift local and impoverished communities. This responsibility includes education of the community as to the role and benefit of conserving biodiversity and further stresses the importance of conserving our natural resources. Near weekly trips are made into the local community to assist in and establish various community projects, that range from creating and maintaining vegetable gardens, recycling projects, painting classrooms and building jungle gyms, to longer term involvement, in champion of enterprise development and job creation projects.

Although these activities are a secondary focus, the great responsibility that comes with engaging with the community. With the best interests of vulnerable children and adults in mind, all participants, staff and service providers must be aware, vigilant and conduct themselves in a manner that is in accordance with responsible tourism practices. In so doing, the aim is to protect all parties involved, against any forms of prejudice, discrimination or abuse.

General Reserve Maintenance
Possible Activities Include:
  • Game capture and other wildlife veterinary work
  • Sleep outs on the Big Five reserve
  • Orientation and nature walks
  • Assisting in night and anti-poaching patrols

The team has been recognized globally for its efforts in conservation and has lived up to the adage of conserving a vanishing way of life. They were voted World’s Leading Safari and Game Reserve since 1998 and World’s Leading Conservation Company in 2012, at the World Travel Awards. The district is malaria free and operations are hosted from the 25,000 hectare game reserve (that’s about 25,000 football fields in size!) with five of seven biomes (fauna and flora habitats) represented. There is a dedicated Wildlife and Conservation Department which includes a wildlife veterinarian and ecologists with a wildlife breeding, animal rehabilitation (ARC) and rhino awareness centre. Facilities also include an animal hospital and antipoaching unit.

  • Shamwari is the host to the Born Free Foundations Big Cat Rescue and Education Centre for lions and leopards.
  • Only one and a half hour drive from Port Elizabeth Airport and there are several adventure and leisure activities in close proximity, which stretch down a beautiful coastline known as the Garden Route. These activities include surfing, canoeing, horse riding, and bungy jumping.
  • You will be hosted by the wildlife coordinators who are qualified and experienced in various conservation related fields, as to be able to maximize your experience.
  • A diverse experience that exposes participants to real and often challenging conservation issues and tasks, offering you the chance to make a sustainable difference through their participation.
  • Age: min. 18
  • Location: near Port Elizabeth
  • Requirements: 18 years, good physical fitness, flexible
  • Group size: max 20 participants
  • Project duration: 1 week -3 months
  • Laundry:Laundry is done once a week
  • WIFI: 100mb @ R20, 500mb @ R100, 1 gig @ R150
  • Linen/towels: Linen provided, you need to bring your own towels with
Shamwari, meaning “my friend” in Shona, is the pinnacle of private game reserves and home to the coveted Big Five on one of the largest conservation initiatives in Southern Africa, some 25 000 hectares in extent. Shamwari is a place where guests can exist in harmony with nature, however fleeting the moment; where free-roaming wildlife traipse the landscape, often under the relentless African sun. Shamwari Game Reserve’s hospitality division incorporates five, Five Star lodges, each one with its own unique essence of Africa. The lodges are designed and operate in harmony with their surroundings and are a place where guests can experience nature in sublime comfort. Although without the splendour of the luxury sector, Shamwari Conservation Experience facilities offer unsurpassed industry standards for individual guests, from the purpose commissioned and staffed facilities.

The program is supported by a very diverse support base, including volunteers, gap-year, adult sabbatical and adventure seeking travellers and takes participants behind-the scenes and exposes them to the several daily aspects involved in the conservation management of Shamwari Game Reserve. Participants are exposed to short and long-term projects which are by outcome, intended to create sustainability for generations to come.

Tasks may vary from physical work to interesting and interactive lecture based content. There are several monitoring projects which assist in capturing vital information used in the research and management of all species on reserve. The experience is diverse and structured, yet not pre-scheduled as result of the nature of working in and around wildlife and a reliance on prevailing conditions. Visits to the Born Free Foundation, Big Cat Rescue and Education Centres and Shamwari Animal Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) are undertaken to educate and expose participants as to these initiatives and what they are attempting to achieve. This is carried out in accordance and to suite the requirements to manage and host the big cats and other animals deemed to have chance of being rescued, rehabilitated and released back into the wild. With a core drive and focus on conservation and keeping wildlife in the wild, they operate with a no-touch policy for predators, unless approved under incumbent veterinary procedure and otherwise as part of the professional animal care of non-predators, under the watchful eye of the qualified vet nurse.

The facilities include accommodation with twin-bedded, on suit rooming (shower, toilet and basin) dining and common lounging areas, with swimming pool and boma (an outdoor enclosure, often used for communing around a fire) areas. Average stays vary from between 2 to12 weeks, with recommendation of a longer stay on request for availability. Although uncommon and room or facility changes are averted, participants may be moved during their stay as result of operational requirements. With a minimum stay of two consecutive weeks, start dates are any Monday, on availability and by time schedule, operations run from approximately 08H00 to 17H00 daily. Evenings are at leisure, with any need for early morning or late-night activities dependent on the tasks at hand. The conservation work generally runs in-week from Monday to Friday or as is required by the operations of the reserve’s conservation efforts, therefore you may be asked to assist and conduct related weekend activities from time-to-time. Weekends are at leisure with a host of extra mural and adventure activities available. We can advise and supply information on locally registered adventure and leisure operators, who can offer you a host of great off-site extra mural activities. These range from cultural tours to adventure activities which include canoeing, quad biking, horse riding on the beach, to the likes of inter-tidal coastal and marine tours. These off-site activities are undertaken on an elective basis and at cost to client. Should the guests not elect to travel off site, they are welcome to enjoy the peace and tranquillity that living on a game reserve has to offer.

Extramural activities
AT OWN COST. There are several adventure and leisure based activities in and around the Eastern Cape and bordering Western Cape districts. These range from seasonal whale watching in Algoa Bay, surfing J-Bay’s world-renowned Super Tubes, to bungy jumping at the Bloukrans Bridge and exploring the forests and coastline of the Tsitsikamma National Park. As part of your planning, should you wish to conduct any off-site or extra mural activities, the team will gladly advise you as to best and most suitable options and contact information for local adventure and leisure operators.

  • Shooting consumables (rounds) for shotgun and .223 semi-automatic rifle (an optional activity) are at a nominal charge and conducted with a safety briefing and rifle range officer present. This is an optional activity with any cost to client quotable on request or if elected at time of stay.
  • Internet: Wi-Fi vouchers can be purchased to make use of the wireless network service. Due to the relatively rural nature of the facility and position of the lodges, although internet speeds are certainly not up to international urban standards, they have proven to be more than effective for access and communication.
  • Smartphones and Tabs: As most participants have access to mobile and other electronic devices with which to communicate via data capabilities, bringing such a device would be best suited with which to communicate. Due to the positioning of Madolos Retreat lodging, there is no mobile networks access. For off-site usage, the Vodacom mobile network service has historically proven most reliable and can be purchased at most local retail outlets and general dealers.
  • Shop smalls: On-site purchase of small consumables such as soft and energy drinks, chocolates and crisps area available, with a percentage of takings being used to champion the local community.

Accommodation, meals & facilities
The lodging for individual participants, called Madolos Retreat, is situated in the far Northern extent of the reserve and hosts a maximum of 20 guests. There are ten-twin rooms, which are scheduled on a same-sex shared basis, unless on special request as a couple. All rooms are en-suite, with shower, toilet and basin. The lodge facilities include communal lounge, dining and swimming pool, with outside boma (enclosure), for enjoying a relaxing evening around the fire and under the stars. .

Room Configuration .
• Ten twin bedded rooms.
• Shower, toilet and basin per room
• Cupboards
• Communal safe per room
• Balcony area

Communal facilities
• Outdoor boma area and fireplace
• Swimming pool
• Dining area
• Beverage storage fridge
• Lounge and entertainment area
• Television and access to local cable channels
• Desktop PC (Wi-Fi vouchers can be purchased on site)
• World Call Card telephone system

Laundry services are provided on average once a week. It is advised that no delicate or high value clothing is brought or handed in at the laundry. Although every care is taken with this guest service, Shamwari Conservation Experience will not be held responsible for any damages to apparel as result of hard water, colour runs, shrinkage or marking due to chemical cleaners.

Food & Meals
Three meals are provided on a daily basis. Meals will either be served at the lodge or taken as a pre-packed serving, depending on planned or as result of unscheduled activities. Vegetarians and other dietary requirements can be catered for, if notified in advance. Cooked breakfasts are served once weekly – generally on Fridays. There are no facilities to service Kosher or Halaal requirements, but the supply of such meals can be serviced at extra cost, on request and availability. Meals are prepared with exposing participants to an array of local dishes in mind and are generally taken on a selfservice basis with the option of juice, tea or coffee. Still and spring water and soft drinks are available on site and with greater selection, from local trading store Madolos Retreat

Example of Menus:
  • Breakfast: cereal and toast, muesli and yoghurt, muffins and toast, cooked breakfast.
  • Lunch: sandwiches, wraps and potato salad, quiche and pasta salad, burgers and chips.
  • Dinner: macaroni and cheese with green salad, roasted chicken with vegetables, traditional meals for example braai and potjie (local type of meal similar to stew).

Each Monday you can arrive in Port Elizabeth and start the program.


Duration 2018 Fee
1 week 9200 ZAR
2 weeks 17200 ZAR
3 weeks 25200 ZAR
4 weeks 33200 ZAR
Rate includes:
  • All on site meals
  • Shared accommodation
  • Linen/bedding
  • Laundry once a week
  • Shared transfers
  • Cleaning twice weekly
  • All on reserve activities
  • Tea
  • Coffee
Rates excludes
  • Flights to Port Elizabeth
  • Visa costs (where applicable)
  • Insurance costs (medical as well as personal items)
  • Alcohol and additional snack food and beverage items you wish to purchase.
  • Optional activities
Application form volunteering





conservation projects
wildlife conservation volunteer
wildlife volunteering abroad
conservation volunteering abroad
conservation volunteering abroad
wildlife conservation volunteer
nature conservancy volunteer
wildlife volunteering abroad