Game Ranger Course Volunteer, South Africa
Take part in a journey of discovery that provides you with in-depth Game Ranger training & gives you the opportunity to discover the natural world of the Big 5 whilst travelling on your Gap Year or Career Break.
Imagine volunteering with Lions, Elephants, Leopards and the rest of Africa's "Big 5" safari animals AND also getting a qualification while you do it. Sound good? Well, this is exactly what happens on our newly launched Game Ranger Course programme!
Started in 2010, this programme is geared towards providing volunteers with a meaningful yet practical connection to wildlife and nature. It is designed to equip you with the theoretical lessons and practical training needed to become a qualified Game Ranger Guide and receive a level-1 certificate for the FGASA (Field Guides Association of South Africa).
More and more people are choosing to volunteer at this Game Ranger Course programme because it beautifully combines education with excitement, and encompasses much more than simply sightseeing and photographing wild animals. It offers participants a substantial level of responsibility that encourages them to See More and Do More each and every day of their programme.
Why you are needed:
Your time at the programme is divided between learning about, and taking part in wildlife conservation. Whilst the programme deals primarily with animals and wildlife it is also incredibly tuned-in to society. As you undergo practical fieldwork tests and informative training you will also be required to help educate both tourists and locals about the fundamental importance of nature conservation.
This programme appeals to many of our environmentally conscious travellers, equipping them with the skills to know how to care about the places they visit and why it is important to raise awareness on environmental issues.
By volunteering here you will not only be contributing to daily positive change at the game reserve, but you will also be able to connect with other like-minded volunteers who like you, have chosen to implement small steps that will eventually become big realities.
- Pre-departure information and advice
- In-country assistance and support
- 24-hour emergency contacts
- Sightseeing activities and weekly excursions
- In-country induction, training and First Aid
- Registration with FGASA
- Donation to the project
- Transportation: airport pick-up and drop-off
- Accommodation: volunteer or on-project residence
- Food: all meals included during work days and provided by staff
What's NOT included?
- Monthly stipend
- Personal expenses
- Meals on excursions
The Game Ranger Course programme is located in a stunning rural area near the small coastal town of Port Elizabeth. Being a Big 5 game reserve, the surrounding area is typical South African bush land and is home to a wide array of animal and plant life.
Public transportation to the nearby towns and coastal regions is easily available.
Project life and photos
Once you are picked up in Port Elizabeth, you will be taken on a city tour and then to the reserve, which is about a 45-minute drive from Port Elizabeth to the programme.
You will be met by the volunteer coordinator and taken for an orientation tour. After that you will be shown to your accommodation, given your uniform and introduced to the rest of the team.
The work of a Game Ranger is multi-faceted. In a nutshell, your prime responsibility will be to monitor and maintain the authenticity of natural environments as well as ensure the health and safety of the game animals.
You are expected to work for approximately 9 hours a day (from 7:30 am to 5 pm), 5 days a week.
Your task as a Game Ranger volunteer will include, but are not exclusive to:
- Assisting with game captures to ensure the day to day health and well-being of the animals
- Fencing and maintenance
- Assisting at the Elephant Sanctuary
- Caring for lion cubs
- Monitoring free roaming lions
- Removing alien vegetation
- Tagging and surveys
- Educational wilderness walks
- Population management
- Public relations and local community relations
As well as the above tasks, you will also be given practical and theoretical classes required to pass the FGASA LEVEL 1 assessment. These lessons will teach you how to identify the major elements of the natural world (both living and non-living) and equip you with the knowledge needed to interpret various environmental signs. You will be given a sound introduction to the natural environment, you’ll be educated on the Biomes of South Africa as well as specific elements pertaining to the game reserve in which you will be working – the syllabus includes learning about the area’s history, geology, taxonomy, basic ecology, weather and climate, plants and animals (i.e. birds, mammals, reptiles, fish etc).
One of the thrills of this programme is getting up close and personal with live game. As a volunteer you will be working closely with Head Rangers who are crucial in providing you with exhilarating nature experiences. Including both day and night game drives! This is pure excitement at your fingertips.
Weekend trips to nearby cities such as Port Elizabeth, Jeffrey's Bay, Knysna and Grahamstown are organised for you during your stay at the project. These excursions are included in the price of the programme, so accommodation and transport costs will be taken care of.
Volunteers free time:
South Africa is full of exciting activities to take part in on your days away from the Game Reserve. You can sign up to go on safaris, take part in hiking trips, canoeing, swimming or even riding elephants. Not to mention the beach trips to the Strand in Cape Town - a trip that many volunteers make sure they do!
Flights, transportation and visas
- Please arrange your flight to arrive at Port Elizabeth
- Your transfer to and from the airport is included
- Visas: A tourist visa is required for Commonwealth, US and European citizens. In these instances you will be able to get your tourist visa upon entry into South Africa. If you'll be staying for longer than 90 days, please consult the South African High Commission/Consulate/Embassy in your country before you arrive in South Africa.
Your airport Pickup...
Whilst a project member will pick you up from the airport, your arrival day may coincide with the arrival day of many other volunteers.
Please be sensitive to the fact that the game reserve is located 45 min - 1 hour drive away, so to prevent the project member from driving back and forth all day, volunteers may be temporarily dropped off at a nearby backpackers ("The All Be It Lodge") to wait for the remaining volunteers to arrive from the airport. Once you’ve all arrived you will be transferred to the game reserve together.
CIBT Visa advice...
For expert visa advice we advise our volunteer, work placement, and internship participants to get in touch with CIBT - a company that we work in partnership with. Our UK, Canadian, and US travellers can use CIBT for visa advice and to get their visa applications processed - with visas returned within a week.
Dates and duration
The Game Ranger Volunteer project in South Africa runs at specified times throughout the year. Your airport pickup will occur on a Monday, please aim to arrive before 15:00pm.
The 2014 dates are as follows:
- 20 January 2014
- 24 March 2014
- 26 May 2014
- 4 August 2014
- 6 October 2014
Some dates may be flexible, so please speak to your Twin Work & Volunteer Travel Advisor for details on the next start date.
The return transfer will depart the reserve at 09:00am on a Saturday or 18:00pm on a Sunday. Please be aware when booking returning flights. Your Travel Advisor can guide you on this.
Safety and insurance
- All of Twin Work & Volunteer's placements are in partnership with recognised and established local organisations, run by or employing local people. These organisations, depending on the nature of what they do, might be small-scale NGOs, family projects, schools or orphanages, or local initiatives with environmental or social goals.
- We often use local businesses to provide logistical and support services to volunteers such as transfers, pick-ups, accommodation and so on. In this way, we support the local economy through helping independent local businesses to thrive. We take our partnerships very seriously and work extremely closely with all our partners.
- We provide 24-hour emergency support from the UK and our partners provides support locally.
- We have an agreement with the crisis management service Tranquillico, should the very worst situations arise.
- If any wider safety concerns arise in the destination, such as civil disturbances or natural disasters, we seek advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and implement their recommendations where appropriate.
Comprehensive insurance is available for all programmes. You have no obligation to take up insurance with any of these companies, but insurance of a suitable sort is mandatory on all our programmes.
- Minimum age 18 yrs
- No specific animal care skills are required, as all training will be given on site. You will need to be reasonably fit and able to be out all day - there is a lot of hard physical work involved!
- The greatest attributes you can possess are flexibility, a willingness to get involved and a great sense of humour
- International volunteers are welcome as long as they are eligible for a tourist visa
Accommodation and Food
There are currently two different volunteer houses available for volunteers at the Game Reserve.
Volunteer House One:
As of November 2010, a second brand new volunteer accommodation was introduced to the volunteers at the Game Reserve. This volunteer housing was designed to give volunteers an authentic 'African' living experience – complete with luxury tented camping-style accommodation.
The tented camp facilities include:
- 96 dorm beds with lockable cupboards and ample packing space (48 males and 48 females).
- Two lounge areas
- Two TV areas fitted with DVD players as well as DSTV
- Two indoor fireplaces
- Two outdoor fireplaces
- A tea/coffee station
- External ablution facilities with 10 toilets and 10 showers
- Dedicated multi-purpose recreation area
- Outdoor boma area
- Separate large dining area
Volunteer House Two:
- Here, you will stay in a five star volunteer house (dorm style with a maximum capacity of 32 volunteers).
- This volunteer house includes a lounge and dining area, complete with a chef to prepare the meals.
- The premises also includes a convenience store, internet facilities, sports facilities (tennis courts and cricket field) as well as an entertainment room.
- Please note that the reserve is an alcohol free environment - hangovers are not recommended when dealing with wild animals!
Meals / Food available for volunteers
- Be prepared to eat a lot of food during your stay!
- You will be provided with 3 meals a day
- From a breakfast buffet to rice and tasty stews, burgers, pizzas and local cuisine with pap and meat
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