Zingela Conservation Project

From mending fence lines to tracking cheetah, tackle the challenges of daily conservation work in South Africa.

Zingela is based on the Zulu word 'to hunt', making it particularly fitting for this project, where you will join a dedicated team providing a safe environment for threatened and rare species.

The surrounding area is dominated by safari ranch land where these magnificent predators come into conflict with man. This project area is a haven amongst this and it is here where they live safely and in harmony with their environment.

Cheetah conservation work at Zingela
  • Track cheetah on foot, using radio telemetry and traditional techniques, momitor hunting, feeding behaviour and social interactions.
  • Observe leopard, recording feeding habits and nocturnal movements.
  • Study brown hyena diet
  • White rhino habituation and movement monitoring
  • Disease free buffalo habituation studies
  • Learn GPS and radio telemetry techniques  
  • Habitat maintenance including water pumps, fence line controls and alien plant management
  • Join an conservation education programme in the local community school

Conservation In The Field

Zingela Predator Conservation Project provides a safe environment for a number of threatened and rare species including cheetah, hyena, leopard and white rhino. The project also funds a small rehabilitation centre and extensive rare roan and sable breeding programme and supports a disease free buffalo population traversing the reserve. 

  • Cheetah
  • Lion conservation
  • Roan antelope
  • Buffalo
  • Reducing livestock predation
  • Use of telemetry equipment
  • Tracking on foot
  • Cheetah sighting
  • Rebecca the cheetah
  • Cheetah kill
  • Darting cheetah
  • Replacing collar
  • Feeding the roan antelope
  • Tracking white rhino
  • Electric fence
  • Leopard studies
  • Night drives and trap surveys
  • Fence patrol
  • Zebra
  • Discovering the African bush
  • School involvement
  • Nyala
  • Nightdrive
  • Rhino monitoring
  • Sunset
  • Zingela accommodation
  • Bush camp living

Cheetah

The Zingela project focuses on the conservation of predators and has an integrated approach with the local community to ensure the project is sustainable.

Cheetah

Lion conservation

Conserve one of the most threatened and important lion populations in southern Africa - the last free ranging population. Track and monitor around 30 individuals, creating ID charts and movement maps.

Lion conservation

Roan antelope

The reserve also runs a breeding programme for the endangered roan antelopes

Roan antelope

Buffalo

One of the conservation elements of Zingela is the habituation of disease free buffalo, ensuring a healthy population continue.

Buffalo

Reducing livestock predation

The Zingela project is passionate about ensuring a sustainable approach to reducing hunting of lion, by focussing on the source of the conflict - the predation of livestock by the free ranging lion population. Volunteer funds help sponsor several schemes to reduce predation of livestock and work with the community so that they can implement the techniques in future.

Reducing livestock predation

Use of telemetry equipment

Volunteers at Zingela use telemetry equipment to pick up the radio signal from collared cheetah

Use of telemetry equipment

Tracking on foot

Once the approximate location is established, you proceed on foot through the bush

Tracking on foot

Cheetah sighting

Approaching carefully, volunteers can get a sighting of the cheetah

Cheetah sighting

Rebecca the cheetah

If the cheetah is feeling secure, she will often permit volunteers to come very close and spend time with her

Rebecca the cheetah

Cheetah kill

Witnessing the cheetah make a kill is an extraordinary experience

Cheetah kill

Darting cheetah

Sometimes a cheetah is darted and sedated, as it requires treatment or relocation

Darting cheetah

Replacing collar

Radio collars are routinely replaced as they become damaged or the cheetah outgrows them

Replacing collar

Feeding the roan antelope

Volunteers also help with running the breeding program for endangered antelopes.

Feeding the roan antelope

Tracking white rhino

The success of predator conservation at the project has led to two white rhino being relocated to the reserve to improve their security from poaching. Volunteers track the rhino and monitor their movements within the reserve as an anti poaching presence.

Tracking white rhino

Electric fence

The entire 8,500 hectare reserve is surrounded by a predator proof fence, which creates the sanctuary for the cheetah

Electric fence

Leopard studies

Volunteers study the territories and prey species most commonly hunted by leopard traversing the reserve.

Leopard studies

Night drives and trap surveys

Night drives, and the set up of video camera traps, assist with monitoring predators on the reserve who are more active at night.

Night drives and trap surveys

Fence patrol

As the fence is crucial for the success of the project, it needs to be checked for faults frequently

Fence patrol

Zebra

The reserve is home to many wildlife species, and fence patrols are a wonderful opportunity for game viewing

Zebra

Discovering the African bush

Working in the field gives many opportunities for discovering the wildlife in the African bush.

Discovering the African bush

School involvement

During term time, the volunteers have the opportunity to work with local school children every week, teaching them about conservation and wildlife.

School involvement

Nyala

Nyala

Nightdrive

As many wildlife species are nocturnal, volunteers also go on night drives regularly, in order to monitor all wildlife found in the reserve

Nightdrive

Rhino monitoring

The white rhino at Zingela are gradually settling into their new environment and require consistent monitoring to track their movements.

Rhino monitoring

Sunset

Sunsets are spectacular in the vast bush landscape

Sunset

Zingela accommodation

The camp has no electricity, but the tents are comfortable and atmospheric

Zingela accommodation

Bush camp living

The communal area of the bush camp provides an atmospheric area to enjoy relaxing in the evenings and chatting over dinner.

Bush camp living

Work With The Wildlife

Set on a vast reserve in the wild and rugged bushland of the Limpopo Province of South Africa, you will track cheetah, leopard and brown hyena populations, and assist in habituation of rhino and buffalo. Witness their natural behaviour first hand, and contribute to the ongoing conservation effort to secure their future.

Volunteering is a fantastic opportunity to observe animals at close encounters and assist in the management of a wildlife reserve, home to a variety of predators and rare and endangered species.

Uniquely, at Zingela cheetah are tracked on foot.

Cheetah habituation programme: using telemetry equipment to establish the approximate location of the cheetah, you then proceed on foot through the bush. This is far less intrusive and more intimate.

Baseline studies of the elusive leopard to determine the numbers moving within the reserve.

Working mainly at night, when the African bush comes alive, you will work to establish the home ranges and prey species of the resident leopards by:

Disease free buffalo habituation.

The brown hyena is a lesser known predator, but a beautiful and vital component of the environment. Observations are essential to give clear research on the predator -prey relationships impacting on species numbers in the reserve.

You will be involved in studying the hyena population to help bring a greater understanding of prey species and feeding habits. The work will involve:

  • Identifying spores and tracks, and using sightings to monitor individuals in the population
  • Observing hunting and feeding behaviour, and establish th ration between scavenging and hunting.

Rhino conservation and tracking.

Due to the successful conservation of predators within the reserve, the game reserve has been established as a safe area to relocate rhino due to current poaching issues in southern Africa. You will be involved in monitoring resident white rhino as they settle into their new environment. The rhino have been fitted with ankle radio collars therefore you will learn radio tracking techniques.

Sable and Roan Antelope Breeding Project

The reserve you are primarily based on is home to one of South Africa's largest private roan antelope breeding programmes. As a volunteer you will be involved in supplemental feeding for the antelopes and management of the breeding groups. 

Learn techniques required to map GPS positions and locate species.

  • The global positioning system uses a global navigation system to reliably locate specific species within a specified timeframe. Some species are fitted with radio collars to allow the team to track their location within certain ranges, a valuable tool within wildlife research.
  • You will also learn traditional tracking techniques, using animal spores and tracks, and the more advanced radio telemetry at Zingela. 

Help with reserve management and maintenance.

  • As the study involves predators, it is essential that the electric fence surrounding the reserve is maintained and checked regularly to reduce movements out of the reserve. You may also be involved in the erection of temporary livestock holding areas as part of the community integration programmes.
  • You may assist with maintenance of the bomas (enclosures) housing the breeding populations of the rare roan and sable antelope breeding programme.

Conservation Education Programme in local school

  • Once a week volunteers can join a teaching programme in the local school, based on an environmental syllabus, focussed around wildlife conservation and what the project is working towards achieving. The project are passionate about integrating their conservation approach with the local community and assisting with the learning of the children who will care for the land in the area in future generations. 
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Your placement cost includes return flights and carbon offsets (if selected), return transfers from Johannesburg Airport to your project, all accommodation, meals (at most projects), transfers between projects if you are volunteering at more than one project, the 24 hour support of our South African ground manager, ACE T-Shirts, and, of course, the contributions to the projects, without which they could not operate. Read more about the costs, where your money goes and financing your volunteering placement here