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Give back to others, experience spectacular sights and cultures and have fun on a life changing experience.

WHAT OUR VOLUNTEERS HAVE SAID:

"Learned so much about vegetation ,birds, and mammals"Student, University of Louisiana, USA

WHAT OUR VOLUNTEERS HAVE SAID:

"A brilliantly organised way to conduct ecological research whilst being able to explore a totally new culture."Student, East Anglia University, UK

FAST FACTS

Swaziland
2-12 Weeks
Starting at $1,940
10%
Savannah Research Centre
3 meals per day
First Monday of the Month

Flights are not included in the cost.

OVERVIEW

Our conservation programmes provide valuable “hands-on” research experience and training facilitated by our experienced and enthusiastic staff. We offer well-equipped research centres, access to unique ecosystems and fully inclusive packages including logistics, food and accommodation.

As a volunteer you will experience hands-on field research relevant to the conservation of savannah ecosystems in Africa. Join us and study birds, reptiles, ungulates, rodents, small predators, bats, vegetation and a variety of other plant and animal life in one of southern Africa’s most unique conservation areas within a global biodiversity hotspot. Investigate the interface among protected areas, rural communities and commercial agriculture in Swaziland’s Lubombo Conservancy while based in the private Mbuluzi Game Reserve and also working in neighbouring Hlane Royal National Park and Mlawula Nature Reserve.

Although savannahs are well represented in African conservation areas, they are subjected to increasing degradation as a result of human influences through land use and climate change. Though well known for large charismatic game such as elephants, rhinos and lions, there are a variety of smaller species that are threatened and are arguably more important to the functioning of savannahs. Birds of prey, for example, are at the top of the food chain and have territories that extend well beyond park boundaries. Consequently they are exposed to the cumulative effects of land degradation and human threats and are under increasing threat of extinction. Many savannah species, particularly the smaller ones, are poorly known and understood in southern Africa yet they play a key role in the ecosystem. Although this project is based in areas containing big game, our research activities are focused on a large variety of fauna and flora including birds, ungulates, small predators, rodents, reptiles, bats and vegetation. You can be involved in biodiversity monitoring, radio telemetry movement studies, small mammal trapping, mist netting to gain valuable field experience.

HIGHLIGHTS

The highlights of this incredible experience includes:

  • Learn from our expert staff about the wildlife and ecosystem functioning of the African Savannah
  • Hands-on research experience, gathering and analysing data that will be used to protect this fragile ecosystem
  • Game drives in the reserves to spot diverse wildlife including giraffe, hippo, crocodiles, various antelope, bats and hornbills to name just a few!
  • Cultural excursions to understand more about Swazi culture and the interaction between wildlife and people

ACCOMMODATION

During your stay you will be accommodated in our Savannah Research Centre, in Mbuluzi Nature Reserve. Three meals a day will also be provided, some on a self-serve basis and others cooked for you. For more information please see the Swaziland Savannah Research Centre Accommodation factsheet.

WHERE YOUR PROJECT FEE GOES

By signing up with us you are donating your time and skills to work directly with communities in need through a structured project. There are many benefits of volunteering through an organization like ours. Sometimes it is hard to find projects to support in a foreign country that are safe, worthwhile, and reputable. When you sign-up for one of our projects for 2 or 12 weeks, you become part of a bigger, sustainable plan that our team of qualified staff have carefully crafted. You will also receive travel and visa support, orientation, a safe place to stay, logistical support, in addition to clear expectations of the work you will do. This is why we charge a fee for volunteering or interning abroad.

Your project fee goes towards a company you can trust, an experience that is worthwhile and an opportunity that will make a positive and sustainable impact on the community you have chosen to serve.

YOUR ROLE

By participating in the Swaziland Savannah Conservation Project, in addition to visiting some of the region’s most exciting wildlife areas, you will help conduct and fund wildlife research and monitoring with other volunteers under the guidance of the All Out Africa co-ordinators. You will engage in walking and driving through game reserves conducting research and monitoring activities that locate and monitor various species of wildlife living and breeding in north-eastern Swaziland, and record habitat and environmental variables associated with the collection of such information.  You may gain hands-on experience in handling wildlife, using tracking equipment and setting traps.  Being based at our Savannah Research Centre in Mbuluzi Game Reserve, you are sure to enjoy game drives and guided walks in a scenic setting while contributing to important conservation projects.

The wildlife field work involves joining All Out Africa’s ecologists in the collection of field data, while being based in a Private Game Reserve and gaining hands-on training and experience in African field research. The research may involve weighing, measuring, tagging and banding young birds (especially raptors), bats and reptiles (lizards and tortoises) to monitor their condition and enable the study of their population dynamics and dispersal. It also may involve fitting radio-transmitters to track the animals to determine their home range, distribution and movements.

Some key studies we are currently involved in are:

Biodiversity monitoring – Seasonal

Savannah systems are under constant threat from human activities resulting in biodiversity losses, shrub encroachment and pollution. Understanding and monitoring trends in plant and animal habitat use and population dynamics are critical in combating savannah loss and degradation. We use birds counts, acoustic bat monitoring, small mammal trapping, vegetation surveys and camera traps to investigate environmental change.

Leopard tortoises – Continuous

Tortoises are being radio-tracked to better understand how they move though the landscape. We are looking at how changes in vegetation communities and different boundary types affect home range size and movement patterns.

Helmeted guineafowl – Continuous

One of only two species of guineafowl, little is known about how agriculture affects their habitat use and breeding success. Using GPS and radio-tracking technology in addition to nest monitoring, we are gathering valuable data on this important species.

Though no specific fitness requirements need to be met, these projects often involve a lot of walking through the bush both on and off paths.

Day in the life of a volunteer:

7:00 Wake up to see the sunshine and get yourself started for the day with hearty breakfast!
8:00 Travel to your placement and get ready to begin your day
8:30 Participate in your chosen project, such as recording behavioural data for species, preparing and gathering information through small mammal trapping, and conducting bird or vegetation surveys
13:00 Time to either return to your accommodation for lunch, or eat the packed lunch you made that morning!
14:00 Begin your afternoon’s work with a full stomach and enthusiasm – this may involve returning to your morning activities, conducting other research or mountain bike game cycles through the reserve
16:30 Return back to your accommodation, time to shower off the dust and share your day’s adventures with other volunteers!
18:30 Enjoy a delicious evening meal and relax whilst gazing at the stars……
ITINERARY

Day 1

Fly into OR Tambo Airport, Johannesburg (more details in “Arrivals” section in the Swaziland Destination Brief) where you will be met by All Out Africa staff members who will transfer you by road from Johannesburg to the Kingdom of Swaziland. It is approximately a five hour journey from the airport to you to your accommodation in the Ezulwini Valley (Valley of Heaven).

Day 2

The third day begins with an early start as you are transferred to our Savannah Research Centre in the east of Swaziland in Mbuluzi Game Reserve. Here you will meet your knowledgeable research coordinators and will receive a thorough orientation to life at the camp and the research activities. Any necessary training on the use of equipment will be provided at that time, and throughout your experience as required.

Day 3-5 volunteer activities

You will spend these days assisting with research and conservation activities.

Since reptiles and most birds are active during the day and bats are active at night, project work will either be completed in the morning or evening. There is usually free time in the middle of the day. Daytime field work begins between 07:00-08:00 and evening field work ends between 21:00-23:00. Usually not more than 6 hours per day are likely to be spent on field work related activities.

Day 6-7 and other weekends for the duration of your stay

These two days are a free weekend, a great time to explore the magic of Swaziland! Volunteers have the opportunity to join any of a number of fantastic excursions including zip lining across the stunning mountains and gorges of Malolotja National Park, white water rafting on the Great Usutu River, a quad bike tour or a rural home stay at a living Swazi village to mention just a few of the incredible activities that Swaziland has to offer.

For 2 week option:

Day 15 Return home

Sadly all great adventures must come to an end and on your final day you will leave the backpacker lodge in Swaziland and transfer by road to Johannesburg to catch your flight.

Airport transfer is included and facilitated by All Out Africa.

For 2 week plus option

Day 15 onwards

Continue with your volunteer project as described in days 3-5, giving you more time to contribute to your project and experience beautiful Swaziland.

INCLUDED IN FEE
  • Comprehensive 24 hour, 7 day a week support from All Out Africa
  • Volunteer projects specifically designed to enable you to make an active contribution to Savannah Conservation during your stay
  • Support of volunteer project coordinators who are experts in their fields which ensures the volunteer experience is valuable
  • Comprehensive orientation to the country, its culture and your role as a volunteer upon arrival
  • All food and accommodation throughout your stay
  • Donation to our non-for-profit foundation which supports our humanitarian and community and conservation activities

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

You can also add one of the following to your adventure of a lifetime prior to or upon arrival:

  • Zip lining weekend through the mountains, waterfalls and gorges of Malolotja Nature Reserve
  • Kruger National Park 3-5 night camping safaris to experience a true African safari and see the big 5!
  • Game drives in the nearby Hlane National Park, see lions, rhino and elephant up close Palm-fringed beach or cultural city trips to colourful and vibrant Mozambique

NOT INCLUDED IN THE FEE

  •  Local transport fares to your projects
  •  Medical/Travel insurance
  •  All flights & visas
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