Big 5 Wildlife Course

memories for a lifetime

Big 5 Wildlife Course

The Local wildlife manager and conservationist’s passion for conservation and education led to the birth of this project. 

Volunteers will be instructed and guided in many of the disciplines necessary to managing an African game reserve. Specific focus is placed on managing the wildlife, conservation, and reserve maintenance, the cheetah breeding research, elephant care and all research projects. Volunteers will also engage in night time and dawn/dusk activities, research, monitoring and patrolling. 

This course has been designed to offer participants the incomparable volunteer experience in practical knowledge and diverse hands-on encounters with the world famous “Big-Five” animals of Africa, as well as a multitude of other wild animals. 

Details about the project

What's included

Upon arrival you will be collected from the airport and driven to your accommodation for your 2 day Cape Town Orientation. You will then be transferred to your project location for the start of your project.


24 hour support and supervision 


Room share with other volunteers

Food & Beverages

Three meals a day, coffee & tea included

Details about the project

Big 5 Wildlife Course details

  • Arrival Day: Friday 
  • Time: Your flight can land anytime on Friday 
  • Airport: Cape Town International Airport (CPT) 
  • Orientation: Friday – Saturday 
  • Project Starts: Sunday – You will be taken to the bus stop to take the bus to Mossel Bay. 
  • Departure Day: Sunday 
  • Departure time: There are 2 bus options. 
  • Option 1: Depart Mossel Bay @ 03h20, arrive in Cape Town @ 09h45 
  • Option 2: Depart Mossel Bay @ 12h50, arrive in Cape Town @ 19h00 (preferred) 
  • Min Duration: 2 weeks (incl 2 day Orientation) 
  • Min Age: 18 
  • Max Age: N/A – Good physical and mental health 

NOTE: You can also be collected at any hotel or place of accommodation on your arrival day, should it be within close radius of the city center or airport

Volunteers will receive training throughout the course on the following; 

Theoretical training: 

  • Animal immobilisation – drugs, methods and equipment
  • Tracking – the basics of animal tracking 
  • Bird, insect and plant identification – Volunteers will learn to identify the different types of birds, insects, fauna and flora 
  • Wildlife management: learn all the facets of managing a big 5 game reserve. 
  • Anti-poaching 

Practical training: 

  • Approaching game on foot – Learn how to safely approach animals on foot, while being conscious of their comfort zones 
  • Tracking – The practical basics of training 
  • Survival camp – learn how to survive in the wild
  • Understanding the enclosure structure and the upkeep and improvement thereof

07h00 – Start the day with breakfast then followed by doing a rhino patrol to find the rhinos. Thereafter track the free roaming cheetah with a telemetry device to monitor their position, and determine if a kill was made. Every morning will include a basic tracking lesson where possible.

09h30 – Tea break in the reserve, after which you will start/continue with a project. Projects include; erosion control, road maintenance, alien plant removal, predator feeding and enclosure upkeep where needed, elephant boma cleaning, cutting browse for elephants, constructing vegetation exclusion plots, vegetation fixed point photography, reptile park upkeep and feeding when needed, and planting out trees and seeding tree species that occurred before agriculture.

13h00 – Lunch

14h00 – Afternoons are used for research and monitoring. This includes dung sampling, game counts, species behavioural studies and research, water testing and treatment, plant, bird and insect identification, snake handling, supplement feeding of certain species, small mammal surveys, etc. 

17h00 – The day ends with a cold drink at a lookout point. 

**One night per week there is a night drive to identify nocturnal animals and plot their position and behaviour.

18h00 – Home cooked dinner or Braai

Please note that from time to time there can be unavoidable changes to projects. These can be caused by weather, conservation priorities, materials supply, or because ongoing projects have progressed more quickly or slowly than originally planned. We ask you to accept the changes – we are sure that you will enjoy the replacement projects just as much.. This routine is kept as best as possible; however, working with animals requires a flexible schedule. The above outline is subject to change.

  • Completed application form 
  • Basic level of competency in English 
  • Good physical and mental health 
  • Love for animals, nature & the outdoors 

Volunteers stay in a big house with a large front porch and wooden floors and ceilings. There is a cosy kitchen where breakfast is served in a help-yourself style. Lunch is usually served outside in the communal braai area or packed to have in the reserve. Dinner is either in the warm kitchen or outside at the fire. There are 3 large rooms in the house that have 4 beds each. These rooms share full 2 bathrooms and an extra outside shower. There is also a cottage about 15m away from the main house that volunteers could also be placed at. This cottage has a small kitchen, one bedroom with 4 beds and a full bathroom with a shower. From the garden, you can see sable antelope, giraffe, wildebeest and other antelope species and the sound of zebra is carried by the wind.


Activity level


Education level


Involvement level


Independence level

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