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The Big 5 Welgevonden Volunteer Project

Would you love to see the White & Black Rhino, The African Elephant, The Cape Buffalo, The African Leopard, and The African Lion in the Wild? If you want the 'Big 5' and you're passionate about conservation research then this is the Volunteer project you've been looking for! 

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At a glance:

Volunteer & help with animal research at a huge private reserve

Accommodation: 2 person luxury tents

Meals: All meals provided

Dates: starts 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month

Minimum stay: 14 days plus orientation of 3 days


About the 'Big 5' Welgevonden Project

Welgevonden private nature reserve is 37,500 Hectares of vast, peaceful and incredibly beautiful scenery, and. is only a 2.5 hour drive north of Johannesburg. That's 365 square kilometres, or 3,650 Rugby fields! There are 565 kms of roads, 55 Lodges, 60 types of mammals, 43 types of reptiles, and of course the Big 5! This is a stunning destination filled with rich cultural legacy and immense natural beauty. Bring your camera and big lens!

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 make a very valuable contribution to the anti-poaching efforts, as seeing regular activity will deter poachers. 

What animals will I look after? 

This Volunteer 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 and you 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!

Some of the tasks you may get involved in include:

  • Assisting with research projects that are ongoing at the reserve e.g. leopard research
  • Watching trip cameras for nocturnal animal activity
  • Collecting physical samples and data analysis for the weekly reports
  • Helping with the maintenance of enclosures / bomas and upkeep of facilities
  • Participating in the daily running of the reserve [animal capture, animal release, veld fire control, anti-poaching
  • Animal tracking and monitoring
  • 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



  • Volunteers are accommodated in luxury permanent tented sites that are enclosed by electric fencing. 
  • 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. 
  • There is also laundry available for doing your own laundry at any stage
  • The bird hide is wonderful to relax in, the braai area and fire pit are perfect for evening sundowners whilste in the distance watching and hearing nocturnal life come alive!



  • All meals are provided but you are expected to help with meal prep and washing up​


Check out the prices and project lengths


Fill out the form below to arrange a free consultation with our OE Advisor to find out more and talk about what project might best suit your passion and budget

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More photos

Here are a selection of photos showing volunteers in action at Welgevonden Big 5 Volunteer Project.

Rhino capture Claire Welgevonden Big 5 Volunteer.jpg

A Rhino capture. This rhino was on a neighbouring property and is being transported after a blindfold and earplugs to calm the animal for the move (with sedation). It was transported and released to the Welgevonden reserve where it will be safer. Any injuries (from fighting other rhinos) were treated by a Vet at the same time. Volunteers got to take part. (Claire from Auckland is in the middle).

Lion Capture Welgevonden Big 5 Volunteer.jpg

Lion capture. Two lions had escaped from the predator part of the reserve into an area that is predator free so they needed to be darted by a vet, then blindfolded, monitored and relocated. Volunteers get to witness it all and then get up close to a wild lion. 

The buffalo are hungry.jpg

During the winter months the animals are fed supplemental feed when needed. The buffalo are called away then the feed poured into feed bins then called back and running they come!

giraffes Welgevonden.jpg

Simply driving from one part of the reserve to another is a never ending game drive - but tourist free!

Claire with Cheetah Welgevonden.jpg

Two female cheetahs were darted for relocation from the north of the reserve closer to food sources, and they are known to stop breathing when sedated so Kiwi Claire monitors the cheetah till they reach the vet around the bend. Next they blindfolded the cheetah as well. 

Claire body condition scoring herbivores.jpg

Tracking and monitoring the animals health is vital at Welgevonden. Body Condition scoring, plus counts for new babies as well. All part of a weeks work at this project. 

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