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Research volunteer at the Elephant Field Station

As a research volunteer, you can help Bring The Elephant Home (BTEH) with research projects focusing on elephant wellbeing in South Africa. Tasks vary from elephant behaviour monitoring, elephant identification, as well as tasks related to communication, data analysis and running a conservation NGO. We look forward to your application. You can find all you need to know on this web page.

Will you join the research volunteer group?

Bring The Elephant Home is now recruiting max eight research volunteers to help develop the program, collect and analyse data, thereby making a valuable contribution to elephant conservation and community engagement. During your stay, you will have a unique opportunity to connect with local people and learn about elephant behaviour and conservation challenges.

Where: Kariega Game Reserve, South Africa

When: Oct 10-20, 2023 – 10 days

Research volunteer tasks

You will help to develop and test all activities, which may vary from:

  • Tracking wild elephants.
  • Recording elephant behaviour.
  • Developing an elephant identification kit and database.
  • Measure elephant dung and take dung samples.
  • Data analysis and discussions about interpretation and BTEH’s conservation projects.
  • Developing the program for future interns in collaboration with local partners. 
  • Other tasks to support elephant conservation: (social) media, video editing, website, graphic design, etc.

Other benefits

  • Regular game drives (at least four times a week) with expert guides.
  • A visit to Addo Elephant National Park.
  • Endless possibilities to emerge yourself in nature, form meaningful connections, and observe natural animal behaviour.
  • Besides many opportunities to observe elephants, you will be exposed to numerous other species such as lion, rhino, buffalo, giraffe and zebras.
  • Experience at an international conservation organisation.
  • Network opportunities: Developing and testing programs in collaboration with local partner organisations.

Research volunteers qualifications

The most important requirements are that you are passionate about elephants, and motivated to make a real change. As this is the development phase of the field station, we welcome people who:

  • Are independent, have great team spirit and dependability
  • Have an optimistic and flexible attitude
  • Have the ability to think in terms of creative and practical solutions.
  • Speak and write English proficiently
  • Are aged over 21 years old

We welcome a maximum of 8 research volunteers with different skills and experiences useful for all activities. A few examples of skills we value: science (e.g. social, animal behaviour or environmental), communication, GIS, (conservation) education, community engagement, graphic design, video editing, social media, app development, database management, and more.

Not ticking all the boxes?

If you are super motivated but not sure if you can meet all the requirements, you might be able to help us reach our goals in a different way. Please contact us with your ideas, and we can discuss options.

An introduction upon arrival for this position will be provided. You will work together with the other pioneers (maximum 9), partners, and local communities. You will work closely together with BTEH founder Antoinette van de Water and PhD student Brooke Friswold

Location and accommodation

We will be staying at the Kariega Conservation Center at the border of Kariega Game Reserve.

  • Shared accommodation with the other volunteers.
  • Boma area with a campfire, braai, and rockpool.
  • Comfortable living room, kitchen, office, and workshop space for all our conservation discussions, program preparation and other activities.

Program costs

10 days: 2.200 euros / ($ 2,325).

We can provide all applicants with personal fundraiser pages so you can raise financial support for your contribution to elephant conservation and limit your personal costs.

  • This includes shared accommodation at Kariega Conservation Center, all meals (vegetarian), coffee/tea/water, (limited) internet access, boma area with a campfire, braai, and a rockpool.
  • Participation in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help track, identify and assist in collaring elephants!  
  • All game drives in the beautiful Kariega Game Reserve and participating in elephant behaviour research. 
  • The participation fee excludes flights, land transfers, and personal expenses (e.g. local SIM card, activities on days off, snacks, etc).

All funds raised from participating in this unique experience will contribute to elephant research and conservation projects. 

Application and selection process

  • You can apply through this form.
  • In case of any questions, please contact us at support@bteh.org
  • After the application, we will contact you with more information about the next steps. We will make a selection of suitable applicants and inform you personally. 
  • Before we can confirm your stay, we would like to have a video call to get to know you better, talk about your preferred activities, and decide which tasks would suit you. 
  • As soon as possible after meeting you we will confirm whether you can join the program.

Please express your interest as soon as possible!

Mission of Bring The Elephant Home

Elephants are disappearing as they are struggling for their survival in many parts of the world. As a direct result of human action, there is a chance that we will lose a species that plays a key role in some of the world’s greatest ecosystems. To save this magnificent species from extinction, BTEH aims to create a world in which people and elephants live together in harmony. This goal is pursued by combining community participation, education, research, capacity building and practical action to realise positive change.

Questions or suggestions? 

We are very interested in any suggestions to make our program better. Please contact us at support@bteh.org.

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