09 666 0192 info@iwh.co.nz
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The Big 5 Welgevonden Volunteer Project

If you love the Big 5 and you'd like to help with conservation and research - & you love rhinos - then this has to be your perfect project.

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Welgevonden private reserve is 37,500 Hectares of vast, peaceful and incredibly beautiful scenery. This is a stunning destination filled with rich cultural legacy and immense natural beauty. Pack your camera and big lens!

You'll experience the Big 5 (White & Black Rhino, African Elephant, Cape Buffalo, African Leopard, and the African Lion) as well as many rare species such as the brown hyena, aardvark and aardwolf. 

You'll get the chance to be on your very own game drive daily just by simply travelling from one part of the reserve to another. No tourists!

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You'll likely bump into elephants, rhinos, giraffe, buffalo, impala and zebra as well as the lesser known mammals, birds and reptiles. You'll always have a qualified ranger with you for safety but the cool thing about that is how much knowledge they can share with you about each animal you see. 

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The size of this place is incomprehensible

Welgevonden is a huge reserve and spread out over 36,500 hectares but is only a 2.5 hour drive north of Johannesburg. That's 365 square kilometres. Or - 3,650 Rugby fields. !! There is 565 kms of roads, 55 Lodges, 60 types of mammals, 43 types of reptiles, and of course the Big 5!

When I was there we came across these two young bull elephants play fighting over a branch. Our ranger stopped the vehicle so we could get shots - and you could hear a in drip as they backed towards us! After a while they got bored and went on their way. Vicki Kenny Owner International Working Holidays

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Basic translation implies “well found reserve” which is the ultimate description of this majestic piece of land that transforms at every opportunity. It offers breathtaking views of the African wilderness and offers memories that will last long after you have left. 

Explore between cheetah-loved grasslands and savannahs to leafy wooded mountains cut by deep rocky ravines. There are perennial rivers that constantly flow throughout this reserve ensuring constant healthy vegetation and habitats for over 50 different types of mammals – without even mentioning the 250 species of abundant and prolific birdlife. 


The Bushman rock art is a humbling experience as well. This reserve is privately managed and provides the spirit of true untouched wilderness. The reserve has never allowed legal hunting and limits the number of guests on the reserve at one time ensuring minimal human contact and the ultimate wilderness experience. The perfect balance of biodiversity, conservation, research and natural living is evident at here.


What will I get to do on the Big 5 Conservation & Research Project?

This project is very research focused and volunteers will be expected to assist in any projects that are happening when they arrive on property. All volunteers will be expected to report directly to the resident Biologist / Conservationist with their reports and observations. This is a very active project so volunteers have no need to get bored as they will be involved in the daily activities of the reserve and any exciting occurrences that may arise i.e. veld fire control, game capture, vet work etc. This project is introducing 3000 game animals like Impala and Zebra to the reserve over the next 3 years and you'll be able to assist with this if it coincides with your stay. 


Tasks and Duties:

  • Be under instruction of the Biologist and Nature Conservationist on property
  • Assist with the research projects that are ongoing at the reserve e.g. leopard research
  • Watch trip cameras for nocturnal animal activity
  • Collect physical samples and data analysis for the weekly reports
  • Help with the maintenance of enclosures / bomas and upkeep of facilities
  • Participate in the daily running’s of the reserve [animal capture, animal release, veld fire control, anti-poaching]
  • Animal tracking and monitoring. Report any unusual findings to reserve management for observation
  • Be the eyes and ears of the reserve and get actively involved in every aspect to guarantee you receive the African Bush Experience of a lifetime
  • Get involved with any veterinarian activities on property

You'll get to participate in all visiting vet procedures, game captures and animal reallocations as well. 


This reserve has a huge team of security who are tasked with protecting the wildlife within the reserve against poachers and they take their job very seriously. Just by driving around the reserve as a volunteer you will also contribute to the anti-poaching efforts - seeing regular activity will deter poachers. Neighbouring reserves have relocated their Rhinos here for safety. that means lots of rhino calfs!

Accommodation and Meals

Volunteers are accommodated in luxury permanent tented sites (2 per tent so great for friends) that are enclosed by electric fencing – keeping the animals out or in we wonder? There is a main building where the volunteers have access to a kitchen, social recreation area, research labs, bathroom facilities with hot water, electricity and Internet accessibility. 

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The bird hide is wonderful to relax in, the braai area and fire pit are perfect for evening sundowners while in the distance watching and hearing nocturnal life come alive as the animals make their great trek home, or awakening, for the night’s festivities. The swimming “gat” often attracts the flying kind but don’t let this stop you from wallowing like the hippo downstream.

The tents look out over the rhinos and elephants and birdlife that roam the plains right where you wake up. 

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Meals are provided but everyone is expected to help with meal preparation and washing up. There is a laundry available for doing your own laundry at any stage, and bathrooms rather than long drops. 

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  • Personal First Aid Kit and any medication for illness
  • Plug adaptor
  • Hat, towel, sun cream and water bottle
  • Insect repellent
  • Sleeping bag for colder months
  • Clean Criminal Record
  • Good Medical health & Fitness
  • Drugs or alcohol abuse will not be tolerated
  • Enthusiasm and flexibility in attitude so that you are able to muck in and be a team player
  • Often you'll be out on the reserve all day with a packed lunch or breakfast or both so you need to have a good level of fitness. 

Fill out the form below to book your free phone consultation so we can help you figure out if this project is right for your passions and budget.



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