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South Africa

African Wildlife Photography And Conservation - South Africa

Photograph the phenomenal wildlife of Africa, and to help raise awareness in the local community about the importance of conservation.

This project is ideally situated in a private game reserve of 14,000 hectares of pristine bush and is home to the Big 5, the extremely rare African Wild Dog and Cheetah.

Volunteer abroad in South Africa at our Wildlife Photography and Conservation Education project which offers a varied range of photography and conservation components. Volunteers will start with an in-depth orientation, followed by an intensive 3 day photography course with a professional wildlife photographer to improve on your photography skills. A further 3 weeks will be spent photographing the phenomenal wildlife in the renowned local National Parks, which boast all of Africa's Big 5 (Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo and Leopard).

Six Great Reasons To Become a Smaller Earth Wildlife Photography and Conservation Volunteer

  • Live and work in Africa’s premier bush-and-beach destination
  • Help raise awareness in the local community about the importance of conservation.
  • Get a unique insight into the Zulu culture and learn the language
  • Improve your photography skills in a 3 day and taught by an experienced wildlife photographer
  • Spend 3 weeks photographing phenomenal wildlife
  • Experience first hand Africa's  Big 5 (Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo and Leopard)

What Difference Does This Project Make?

Across 2008 and 2009 Volunteers working on this project contributed over 21,784 hours to conservation through photography in the St Lucia area of South Africa.

The images taken during this project have been used to create a photographic database of the species and ecosystems in the area to help with conservation education. Volunteer photos are also used to help our partners to build a picture database of the wildlife in the surrounding area. These images are used for educational purposes as we firmly believe that in order to preserve indigenous plant and wildlife it is essential to get local communities involved.

Through the Conservation in Action Programme, volunteers have also removed hundreds of alien plants and litter, clearing the way for the stream which now provides the habitat to returning dragonflies and amphibians. 20 indigenous trees have been introduced back to the pan (natural pond) area in the local village. Through cleaning the pan and introducing perches in the water, the number and species of birds visiting has increased (including a rare kingfisher!). Information boards have been erected in both Zulu and English to inform local residents of our efforts and importance for keeping it clear.

At the crocodile centre and in conjunction with KZN Wildlife Authorities, the volunteers are involved in the building of an essential water filtration system and maintenance of the enclosures of rescued and problem crocodiles. We have also recorded valuable data and tagged 215 baby crocodiles as part of the process to release them and have helped count wild crocodile nests in the area to track how populations are coping with low water levels. In the past, volunteers have also been involved in the release of crocodiles back into the wild.

Our partners have also teamed up with a local high school to run an after school Conservation Club - the 30 children have been learning about wildlife, the environment, agreed their local conservation issues and help with the regeneration of the pan in their village. Volunteers have also taken club students out on field trips to see local conservation efforts to help them appreciate the precious environment in which they live and to help preserve these areas for future generations.


Thanda Private Game reserve, home to the big five with 14,000 hectares is situated one and half hours away from the small town of St Lucia on the North East Coast of South Africa.

Required Experience

For this project, enthusiasm for photography and African wildlife is essential. Photographic knowledge and experience is helpful, but not necessary. This project has been established for all levels of ability from complete beginners to professionals. Please note that you will be taught how to edit your photos on Photoshop and spend a good deal of time during the 4 weeks editing your images – for this reason a basic level of computer literacy is required in order to participate.

Minimum Equipment Required to Participate: Volunteers will need to bring their own photographic equipment - they should bring an SLR digital camera with at least an 18-55 mm lens, battery charger and 2GB memory card. Through past feedback we now have listed a tripod and digital storage devices (in the form of at least a 4GB flash drive or external drive) as essential items to bring with you.

From 4 weeks

Gap Year Vitals

  • Location: South Africa
  • Duration: From 4 weeks
  • Price: From £1,795



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