The Balule Conservation Project is a fantastic opportunity to assist with conservation efforts and offers a unique and incredible experience of the African bush. Research - associated with Save the Elephant Foundation - forms a big part of the project and you should have lots of encounters with these magnificent giants. It is also worth noting that the camp is part of (1800km2 for Private reserves, 20000km2 for KNP and 10 000km2 for LNP). Animals move freely across these areas as the dividing fences have been removed.
This means that it is truly an amazing experience if you are lucky enough to see the wildlife as in actual fact sightings should be seen as evidence of the efficacy of a large, functioning ecosystem in contrast to a small, contained system where animals are forced to literally live on top of each other.
Project & Volunteer Activities The project is run by a small but dedicated team of researchers who are headed by the Game Warden for the reserve, Craig Spencer. They work very closely with Elephants Alive, South Africa.
The project is based in the Balule Game Reserve in Greater Kruger National Park, Limpopo Province, South Africa – approximately 16km away from Hoedspruit town. It is a BIG FIVE reserve and you will be doing a great service volunteering with us.
The project contributes to the overall management of the reserve, by collecting data on wildlife and vegetation. There is a focus on elephant herds and predators, although from time to time they undertake other studies such as the effect of overhead power lines on giraffes.
During your stay on the project, you will get involved in a variety of conservation activities. There are daily surveys to monitor the various animal populations within the reserve. You may be asked to assist with vegetation surveys (depending on the time of year), waterpoint surveys, alien vegetation removal and the occasional trip into town to resupply.
Most of your days are likely to be spent out and about giving you the opportunity to see animals of interest. You may also have the chance to attend calls from trackers and rangers, from the lodges, when the focal species of the project, such as mega-herbivores, predators and wildebeest are reported.
However, as part of the day to day activities of some staff on camp, they may be required to take part in urgent reserve activities, which may not be suitable for volunteers to take part in. Please remember that during your time on camp, the staff have a responsibility to ensure your health and safety and this may mean that you cannot always accompany them in the day to day duties and please do not take this personally.
Other research and activities include predator research, vegetation studies, non-native vegetation removal, anti-poaching (snare removal) and much more. Volunteer work varies depending on when you go and day-to-day activities are dictated by the team’s daily priorities. Having the Game Warden for the reserve in charge of the project can make for some interesting experiences!
As part of the additional activities by some staff on camp, there is a highly trained specialist breed, anti-poaching dog on camp. You will be given a briefing about the dog and the amazing work it does.
Please be aware that the dog is not a pet and you should not attempt to treat him as such.
The dog is highly trained to assist with the crime of poaching.