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Wildlife Conservation and Research Long Term Internship in South Africa

On this program, spend your time between two prominent conservation hubs in Limpopo, South Africa, where you will acquire a diverse range of skills on a six month internship in the bushveld.

Program Code: ZABF0848M

Program Information

Travel to South Africa to contribute towards wildlife conservation initiatives, while learning about the best practice of field guiding. Conduct scientific research, assist in habitat restoration and record the movements of savannah animals such as hyenas, lions, leopards, elephants and rhinos in the Limpopo province.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Limpopo is one of South Africa's most breathtaking expanses, containing an array of natural landscapes and prominent wildlife. Located in the Hoedspruit region, our sister bases in this part of South Africa are a stone's throw away from each other, and this program provides you with the opportunity to get a taste of both programs, providing a truly comprehensive learning experience to participants interested in the various facets of environmental study.

On this six month internship, you will spend your first segment (three months) of the program on the Mahlahla campus at Bushwise Field Guides, learning about various scientific field research techniques, gaining practical skills related to becoming a well-rounded field biologist, and immersing yourself in the unique cultural landscape. Tasks that you might be involved in include learning more about safety in the field, how to set up a camp, along with its management and logistics, as well as animal behaviour related to safety and data collection.

MAHLAHLA HIGHLIGHTS

  • Learn the art of bushveldt survival, such as anticipating the weather, tracking animals and learning to find a water source.

  • Track predators like lions, cheetahs, and leopards, as well as megaherbivores like elephants and rhinos.

  • Learn to identify an array of flora, such as trees, grasses and the practical uses of indigenous plants

  • Improve your employability by gaining practical skills in the conservation industry, and studying the various field research techniques.

  • Spend three months in the quiet hush of the wild open spaces and waking each morning to a chorus of savannah birds


 

Then you will make the short journey to GVI’s Karongwe campus, kicking off an entirely new segment, where you will have the opportunity to apply some of the skills you have acquired from the first module in a more practical way, while also learning about interesting conservation topics such as habit restoration, spending time tracking wild animals, studying their behaviour as well as possibly contributing to relevant community outreach programmes in the region. Tasks that you might be involved in include engaging with bio-surveying techniques, participating in various environmental education initiatives ans taking part in one-on-one mentorship sessions from GVI’s internship coordinator.

KARONGWE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Master radio telemetry techniques and learning how to track and record animal movements. 

  • Learn practical skills on the ground, such as conducting research drives to collect data and working in a private reserve.

  • Explore one of the most beautiful regions in Africa in your free time, while bonding with your fellow volunteers from all over the world.

  • Sleep under the star-filled Southern night sky and wake to a golden African dawn; a bucket list item for many volunteers.

  • In your free time, visit the famous Kruger National Park, only an hour away from where we are based or visit the nearby Drakensberg Mountains where awe-inspiring vistas are afforded over the Blyde River Canyon.

Program Details

Further Program Details

GVI’s sister company, Bushwise, is a Field Guide College in the heart of South Africa’s bushveld. Bushwise is an accredited FGASA training provider with the highest success rate in passing the FGASA exams, and also securing field guiding jobs post-internship.


Bushwise’s Story


Co-founder Sophie Newman joined GVI in its infancy, where she set up and ran the GVI Karongwe Wildlife Expedition. Back then, GVI consisted only of Sophie in the field and the founder of GVI, Richard Walton, who manned the office in the UK. As GVI grew Sophie went on to set up and run wildlife and community conservation programs across Africa. These included predator projects in Venetia, South Africa, community and marine conservation programs in Kenya, and SANParks internship programs, to name a few.


During her 8 years as a Regional Director for GVI, she found it a constant battle to find staff with the qualifications, skills, and ethical professionalism GVI required. There was clearly a great need to assist young passionate conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts in getting these skills and qualifications to start their career. So, Richard and Sophie embarked on setting up Bushwise Field Guides. The vision was to develop a high quality, all-inclusive training course, which offered a platform for students to gain all the relevant qualifications, practical experience and importantly, develop the professional ethics and soft skills.


Bushwise ran its first course back in 2006 at Mahlahla campus, and looking back to the early days, Bushwise’s ethos and vision has remained the same, but the program has evolved tremendously. Over the years we have focused all our attention on the long-term courses, which provides the best platform to gain the quantity and quality of knowledge and skills needed. We work closely with the lodges to develop and tweak the program as the industry changes. This ensures our students get the necessary experience to benefit not just their employment but also adhere to the lodges’ standards. We have added numerous qualifications, fine-tuned the training, refined our soft skills development, and built an exceptional Bushwise team.


We will continue to work proactively with the lodges in this ever-changing industry, to ensure our Bushwise course is the most relevant and of the highest standard. We also guarantee that our graduates are of the highest standard possible. Not only do we have a lasting relationship with our alumni, but Bushwise plans to develop additional courses and programs to build on their skills, and further their careers.


Part 1: Scientific Field Research & Techniques Segment (Month 1, 2 & 3)
For the first three months on the program, you will be involved in a scientific field research and techniques segment, taking place at Mahlahla campus, the home of Bushwise Field Guides. This module is particularly relevant to interns wishing to gain practical exposure and experience in the field, as well as to develop the necessary ‘on the ground’ skills in order to become a more well-rounded wildlife field researcher in the conservation industry.

This module offers training in fauna and flora identification, animal behaviour and practical biodiversity survey techniques focusing on birds, small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and arthopods. This module also aims to provide the necessary skills for living and working in a remote field location including managing a camp, safety considerations and awareness, orientation, animal tracking, 4×4 driving and so much more

Part 2: Wildlife Conservation Segment (Month 4, 5 & 6)
For the second half of the internship, you will be participating in the wildlife conservation segment at GVI’s Karongwe base, just a couple of kilometers from the Bushwise campus. This module provides you with the opportunity to contribute directly to the maintenance of wildlife ecosystems in this part of the African region. Focus animals on this module include lion, cheetah, leopard, hyenas, elephant, rhino and smaller mammals, birds, reptiles and insects.

The goals of this module include expanding knowledge and awareness around endangered wildlife and hosting various environmental education initiatives to do so. It also aims to provide long-term and consistent data for Karongwe Reserve Management, to assist with Reserve Management decisions based on scientific data, as well as to increase scientific output in the region.

Select a Start Date

  • 2020
  • 2021

Select a Duration

Select a start date first.

Select Add-Ons

+ $30
 

What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Training

A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.


For All GVI Participants

Welcome Presentation

Introduction to GVI as a whole and the work in your specific location. Learn about the short, mid, and long-term objectives of the sustainable development projects at your base, which United Nations Development Goals they impact most directly, and which local partners we work with.


Health and Safety Training

Learn about the Emergency Action Plans in place at your base, the full Risk Assessment, and best practices for personal safety.


Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Training

Learn about the importance of child and vulnerable adult protection best practices and how to apply them while on project.


Your Program Specific Training

GVI’s ILM Endorsed Leadership Training

This includes several presentations on leadership-related topics as well as practical applications of the topics, weekly one-on-one meetings with an assigned mentor, and a final leadership project.


Camera Trapping

Learn how to set up and monitor camera traps in the wild to capture elusive animals as well as important and rare behaviours.


Track and Sign

Study the paw prints and other signs of animal presence to learn how to identify and track animals in the wild.


Arrivals

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.


As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.


 
 

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


 


We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.


 

Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conducted, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.


Support

Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Safety

Upon arrival at the airport, participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.


Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov

HOW GVI UPHOLDS HEALTH AND SAFETY

It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.


1 Nov

GVI’S COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AND SECURITY

As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.


6 Nov

HOW GVI REMAINS PREPARED FOR NATURAL DISASTERS

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.


5 Nov

HOW GVI MANAGES PARTICIPANTS EXPECTATIONS

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.


What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • ILM Leadership training and certificate
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)