Big 5 Wildlife Conservation

Volunteer in South Africa at a Big Five Safari Reserve and work in a conservation area with Elephant, Lion, Buffalo, Rhino and Leopard.

Minimum Duration: 1 week
Cost: From 595 Euro per week
Minimum Age: 18 years


Guided by an experienced ranger, you will experience and explore breath-taking landscapes and unforgettable wildlife sightings, including: The Big 5, Black Wildebeest, Cheetah, Giraffe, Zebra and numerous other antelope.

The “Big Five” Safari Reserve is a unique volunteering project that allows animals to be re-introduced to the area where they once roamed freely. This initiative is located in the Eastern Cape and is the kind of project that requires the love for animals and nature.

Gap year students and volunteers can be part of this bigger picture and work and live on this reserve and help with all the aspects of running a safari reserve in Africa.

Guidance & Supervision

The coordinator on site is an experienced game ranger who will take you to and from the volunteer house to the reserve, work together with you and teach you all there is to know about the land, plants and animals.

Volunteer Tasks

As a volunteer at the Big Five Safari Reserve, your primary responsibility is managing the free roaming lions, with the rest of the day filled with tasks and duties based around the reserve.

The list below provides the details of various projects experienced by past volunteers. Please note that duties may change at any time, which means no week at the reserve will be the same!

Short-Term Projects

  • Game capturing, counting and monitoring
  • Medicinal use of plants and vegetation biomes
  • Guided walks, tracking and trails through the reserve
  • Nocturnal predator monitoring

Long-Term Projects

  • Game counting
  • Animal tracking using telemetry sets
  • Territorial ranges and feeding range monitoring
  • Lion health and breeding monitoring
  • Giraffe movement and breeding monitoring
  • Local community sustainability
  • Assisting vulnerable children and AIDS orphans
  • Birds in reserves project

General reserve duties:

  • Erosion control
  • Fence patrol and maintenance
  • Alien plant control
  • Bush clean and clear up
  • Road and boma maintenance

Why Volunteer at this project?

Working and living on a safari reserve is a dream of many, and this is your opportunity to be a part of the bigger picture of conservation. Don’t forget that although small changes can take a very long time to make an impact on nature, and are difficult to see in a few weeks, your role as a volunteer or gap year student adds immeasurably to the restoration of the land to what it once was. By participating, you do not merely help on a temporary basis on the reserve itself, but you also contribute to the future financially, and impact the environment positively. You have the possibility to see more than just the reserve and can spend some time at the community project in Paterson as well, giving you the chance to see South Africa and its people in a different light.



Volunteers are accommodated in a one-storey, 7 bedroom house; which overlooks a large garden and is within walking distance of the local bar and basic shops. Most of the rooms are doubles or triples and are male or female only. There are 3 bathrooms in total with a hot water shower and toilet.

A communal dining and sitting room with digital satellite TV is central to the house, with a well-equipped kitchen and office space adjoining. A sun room provides an additional seating room where the internet and telephone are available. The internet is available for a small additional charge.


Your meals are all included when on the reserve and consist of self-service breakfast and lunch and a home-cooked dinner. Volunteers are expected to be independent and proactive and be able to contribute to the household chores. This is not a luxury lodge where you are catered for, but rather your home that you share with other passionate, hard-working, like- minded volunteers!

Dinners may consist of pastas, oven-baked or roast dishes and, of course, our famous braai (barbecue) to enjoy under the stars.

What is included?

  • Accommodation at the project
  • Meals
  • Cleaner once a week
  • Laundry service once a week
  • All training programs that you will need for your work at the project.


What is excluded?

  • Arrival and departure transfer (see above)
  • Flights
  • Vaccinations
  • Visa Costs
  • Insurance


Starting Dates

The transfer will depart from Port Elizabeth Airport at 2pm on Mondays.  For departure the transfer will drop off volunteers at the Port Elizabeth airport at 8 am on Mondays. Transfers on other days can be arranged but will be quoted on request.

The project starting dates are on Mondays when transfers are done from Port Elizabeth.


The reserve is situated in the Eastern Cape, 85 kilometres from the Port Elizabeth airport, in a beautiful area. The environment provides a home for a vast quantity of animals and vegetation, truly a feast for the eyes. Your home, whilst working on the Big Five Safari Reserve, will be in the town of Paterson. This town was once an important railway link until steam trains were derailed in the 1980’s. By 1996, the rail functions had been transferred to the city of Port Elizabeth and Paterson became semi-dormant.

The farming community of Paterson saw a clash of domestic and wild animal hunting interests, which caused the eradication of ‘problem animals. Substantial parts of the area since have become sanctuaries for wildlife and nature-based conservation. The last 200 years have seen dramatic changes in the farming and conservation around Paterson, with several farms diversifying into game reserves. The local community is actively involved in the running of these game reserves, retraining from farmers and labourers into maintenance and service workers. Paterson has since become a busy town offering a Café, coffee and cheese shop, fuel stations, Take-away food, 2 mini-supermarkets, a post office and the popular Sand flats Public House.


Pin It on Pinterest