Conserving Big Five at Shamwari


  • Work in a beautiful game Reserve and observe wildlife in close proximity
  • Gain a meaningful and real conservation work experience
  • Experience the beauty and culture of South Africa
  • Raise awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation


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. Shamwari is a fully operational 25 000 hectare Big five game reserve and our experiences are based around the requirements of the various short and long-term conservation projects and the need for assistance by the award-winning Shamwari Wildlife and Conservation Department. Shamwari boasts a multi-purpose student centre and other facilities geared to host several activities and get participants involved in various components of conservation. The experience is a true reflection of the day to day operational requirements needed to manage the game reserve and its resources.

Shamwari has hosted behind the scenes operations and experiences for the youth travel and adult sabbatical sectors for several years and we specialise is conservation, with a focus of ecology, wildlife, and community work. Environmental education with local community and partaking in sporting interactions are an important part of our social responsibility drive to improve the lives of those living in and around the reserve.

Volunteer Duties:

Due to the nature of working with wildlife and other conditions out of our control, this draft serves as an example of a typical experience to date, but may be adapted as suits the conditions at time of stay and as will be exercised at the discretion of our veterinary wildlife team to best suit and optimize the experience for all participants.

Game Monitoring: Rhino, Elephants, Predators With regular monitoring it is possible to identify individuals, compile information about the family structure and determine feeding and special 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 and 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.

Management of Breeding Centre Management of breeding centre can include anything from veld (open country or grassland) assessment of conditions, mapping of breeding area, mapping of alien vegetation, monitoring animal numbers and managing water points.

Research Projects Undertaking 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 institutions and may range from elephant fertility testing to capturing data on lesser known species such as Brown Hyena.

Alien Plant Control Alien plants were introduced to the land by the farmers for different reasons and uses. Today these invasive plant life need to be removed to increase the natural biodiversity and decrease fire risk.

Born Free Foundation It is the mission of both the Born Free Foundation and Shamwari Game Reserve to promote the conservation of species and the protection of habitat while maintaining a humane and compassionate approach to the welfare of animals. Therefore, it is their goal to create an awareness of the horrific way in which wildlife is exploited in captivity around the world. An opportunity will be given on a weekly basis for individuals to volunteer at the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary

Animal Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) Shamwari Animal Rehabilitation Centre was set up to aid in rehabilitating injured animals found on the reserve and surrounding community. The aim is to give the animal short term care and release it back into their natural environment.

Community projects The 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. Weekly trips are made into the local community to assist in various community projects that range from creating and maintaining vegetable gardens, recycling points, painting classrooms and building jungle gyms.

General Reserve Maintenance during a placement such as fixing fences, road rehabilitation, bush cleaning and building of bridges. This is all part of the on-going effort to restore the reserve to its natural beauty.

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