African Elephant Project

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Our African Elephant Project is an informative and fun educational program. It consists of learning through wildlife volunteering along the Garden Route of South Africa. The program is founded on outcome-based learning objectives with innovative approaches to help understand elephant behaviour and apply operational animal management care, husbandry and welfare strategies, procedures and protocols.

OverviewPhotosIncludedProject ItineraryFAQ'sActivitiesProject Dates

The program is structured and organised consisting of day to day interactive and experiential learning. We manage the program in such a manner that all volunteers take away invaluable knowledge and experience which can be measured, quantified and qualified through the acquisition of new and innovative knowledge and acquired skills.

Project Highlights

  • Learn about elephant conservation in South Africa
  • Get involved with regional elephant conservation projects and research initiatives
  • Learn about the perpetual threats to ecosystems and the environment
  • Create long lasting memories and friendships with people from all over the world

Project details

Arrival day: Sunday
Project starts: Monday
Location: along the Garden Route of South Africa, the core area between Mossel Bay and Addo
Duration: 4 weeks. However a 2-week option is available comprising the first 2 weeks of the 4-week program

Volunteer requirements

  • CV/Resumé
  • Basic level of competency in English
  • Copy of return flight itinerary
  • Availability of position
  • Medium level of fitness

Average working day

Volunteers will work from Monday to Friday during which they will cover different aspects of the project. Daily schedule starts at 08h00 am and finishes at 16h30 pm unless otherwise specified.


Weeks 1, 2 and 4 are based exclusively at the Elephant Sanctuary in the Crags. Week 3 is an outward bound extension module where we are based at Addo Elephant National Park for 5-days.

Volunteers will be accommodated where the program is presented 20km from Plettenberg Bay. All accommodation is comfortable, up-to-date with necessary amenities and on a sharing basis – 2 in a room.


Volunteers will be provided with three balanced meals per day.

Breakfast: help yourself to breakfast; cereals, fruit, yoghurts, toast and spreads

Lunch: this will be in the form of a packed lunch on excursion days or help yourself to lunch – with breads, fruits, cold meats, salad of the day and spreads.

Dinner: A hot meal will be served every night such as traditional BBQ (Braai), stews (Potjies), casseroles, fresh vegetables and meats being the order of the day. All dinners will include a meat, starch and vegetables.

Tea and coffee are available throughout the day. All other drinks are for volunteers’ own expense though the tap water is safe to drink.

A generous amount of wholesome food will always be given. If snacks are desired there are grocery stores nearby. There will be refrigeration available for personal foods and soft drinks. Volunteers are required to participate in the preparation of meals and to clean up after themselves after meals.

Meal times will be as following:
Breakfast: 07h30 – 08h00 am
Lunch: 12h00 – 13h00 pm
Dinner: 18h30 – 19h30 pm

Week 1 – Elephant Husbandry, Care, Welfare and Management (Animal & Facility)

Volunteers will be led through the various facets of elephant husbandry, care, animal welfare and animal management principles and protocols by a hands-on facilitator/instructor who will guide the experience and the learning outcomes in a fun and entertaining manner. Volunteers will get down and dirty with every facet of an Elephant’s life in a quasi captive environment. They will become involved in the various physical facility management functions on a daily basis inclusive of repairs and maintenance and general operational requirements through your day.

Volunteers will be required at close of day to report back on your experience and provide feedback to your participating peers as to what you have experienced for the day. Each day you will be tasked with individual and group research assignments.

Week 2 – Elephant Behavioural Research, Monitoring and Inter- and Intra- Specific Observation & Interpretation

Much of what you experienced and learnt during the first module will be carried over to this module with continued application practically of what was learnt. Eco-Volunteer learners are guided through the use of various tools, techniques and mechanisms to record, monitor and note interesting behavioural observations and features pertaining to each of the Elephants on a daily basis in a fun and informative way.

We use three key principles in behavioural monitoring – Observation, Interpretation and Deduction.

Each day participants will be required to provide feedback to the group as each volunteer compiles their own account of our resident elephants life through photographic accounts, written accounts and recorded research data which not only is a living memory of your experience at the Elephant Sanctuary but also a data contribution to the daily management.

Week 3 – Wild Elephant Behaviour & Ecological Adaptability Wilderness SAFARI

Volunteers will be taken to Addo Elephant National Park near Port Elizabeth for a 5-Day elephant observation, interpretive and facilitated SAFARI experience where wild elephant behaviour is observed, monitored and accounted for on a daily basis. During this phase we will look at the effects elephants have on the greater ecology of an area with many interesting facts being communicated as we journey through the park on a daily basis. During our stay we will also observe all the other representative animals in Addo and how they related to one another with their unique niche habitats and survival success opportunities in African Safari Style presented in a fun and informative manner. We depart for Addo National Park on the Monday morning and return late Friday afternoon of the same week back to the Elephant Sanctuary.

Week 4 – Elephant Behaviour Adaptations and Observations and Conservation Research Projects

Volunteers are once again back at the Elephant Sanctuary with daily chores relating to the elephants being addressed as well as additional group tasks being undertaken where all observations found within wild and captive elephant populations, observed on our elephant journey so far are brought together in a group project based outcome. Individual experiences and interesting facts pertaining to elephant life, ecology, behaviour and adaptability are collated by the group in presentation format. The document is copied, bound and presented to each participant when the program concludes.

In addition to this volunteers will be exposed to a variety of regional and localised conservation projects & conservation research initiatives. This region, due to its diversity of habitat and endemic species accounts is a favoured research zone.

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Optional regional adventures & activities for our own account on weekends

Please note that these activities DO NOT form part of the program you are registered for. These optional activities are for your OWN ACCOUNT and in your off-time. Bookings are to be done through your facilitator and transport can be arranged and priced specific to where the activity is offered. In most instances facilitators will assist with arrangements, transport and accompany you.
Please note that a full list of adventures and prices will be available on arrival

  • Bungy Jumping off Bloukrantz Bridge. From R700pp
  • Canyoneering; From R500pp
  • And a Combination Canyoneering & Abseiling Adventure in the Crags. From R1100pp
  • Cage Swimming with Great White Sharks in Mossel Bay. From R800pp
  • Animal Sanctuary Visit in Crags – Monkeyland, Birds of Eden and Jukani Predator Park. From R450pp
  • Full Day in the Life of an African Elephant Program R1800pp
  • Or a Full Day in the Life of a Game Ranger R1750pp
  • Guided Walks on Robberg Peninsula From R300pp
  • Guided Walks in Natures Valley From R300pp
  • Guided Walks at Krantzkop From R350pp
  • Guided Walks at Goukamma MPA Reserve From R350pp
  • Guided Canoeing Adventures on Keurbooms Lagoon/Gorge From R350pp
  • Guided Canoeing Adventure on the Goukamma River From R350pp
  • Guided Canoeing Adventures in Natures Valley From R350ppGuided Interpretive Bush Walk Experiences From R300pp
  • Guided Interpretive Birding Walk Experiences on the Garden
  • Route From R300pp
  • Various Experiential Bush Eco-Adventures and an Overnight Bush Survival Adventures just outside Plettenberg Bay R1750pp
  • Skydiving in Plettenberg Bay and Tandem Paragliding in Wilderness or Sedgefield.
  • SCUBA Diving in Plettenberg Bay or Knysna or Jeffreys Bay. From R500pp per dive
  • Learn to Kite Surf or Sail in Knysna. From R2000pp
  • Swim with Seals in Plettenberg Bay. From R500pp
  • Pelagic Shark Day Adventure in Plettenberg Bay or Mossel Bay. From R2750pp
  • Whale & Dolphin Watching Adventure in Plettenberg Bay (Seasonal)
  • Sea Kayaking in Plettenberg Bay and Knysna. From R500pp
  • Oudsthoorn Full Day Adventure – Cango Wildlife Ranch, Ostrich Farm and Cango Caves Wild Adventure From R1950pp
  • Horse Riding in the Forests in the Crags or at Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve. From R500pp
  • A Whole Host or Regional MTB Cycling Adventures are available
  • Learn to Surf in Plettenberg Bay

Project start dates 2016

6th June
4th July
1st August
5th September
3rd October
7th November

Project start dates 2017

9th January
6th March
1st May
3rd July
7th August
4th September
2nd October

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