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Coastal Conservation Experience

Dive into the thrilling world of marine conservation.

Home to a thriving population of bottlenose dolphin and important whale breeding grounds, the waters around South Africa’s Garden Route are nothing short of an underwater jungle.

Guided by the experienced conservation researchers, this project gives you the chance to join an internationally recognised marine research project in the heart of this teeming seascape.

Whether you’re cruising the waves on a research boat or exploring the wild coastline on foot, you’ll get a unique chance to study whales, dolphins, sharks and other marine animals up close. You’ll also lend a hand educating locals and tourists about the importance of protecting our oceans.

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Category

Marine Conservation

Species

Dolphins, whales, birds

Impact

Marine research
Coastal habitat conservation
Conservation education

Country

  South Africa

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  • Highlights
  • Do
  • Learn
  • News
  • Costs

Highlights

Focus on marine animals

Most people associate Africa with elephants, rhino and lions. But protecting the continent’s fragile aquatic ecosystem is just as important for wildlife conservation.

Perfect for thrill-seekers

The area’s waters and sandy beaches aren’t just appealing to marine wildlife. South Africa’s Garden Route is a mecca for adventurous traveller with activities such as bungee jumping and black water tubing on offer, as well as a lively social scene.

Meet the locals

Part of your time as a coastal conservation volunteer will be spent teaching local school children about the dangers our oceans face. This is a fun and educational experience, no matter which side of the classroom you’re sitting.

DO

This project gathers information on all marine wildlife in the West Indian Ocean and build a model for sustainable conservation. As a volunteer, your role will be very hands-on, working alongside professional researchers to continue this study. Depending on the animals being monitored at the time, you’ll get the chance to be involved with the following activities:

Wildlife research and monitoring

Decades of research into bottlenose and humpback dolphin has really put this project on the map. As a volunteer, you’ll help to carry on this legacy and take the research in new directions.  

  • Learn how to do cetacean dorsal fin identification as part of dolphin and whale monitoring
  • Collect and analyse the egg cases of shark, skate and ray (known as elasmobranchs) 
  • Test the quality of river water to assess the health of local water systems
  • Catch and ring birds to monitor migratory routes
  • Monitor migrating humpback whales, southern right whales, and resident Bryde whales
  • Build up your research and data collection skills
    Spend time on research boats and land-based projects and reserves

Practical conservation work

The project has a strong emphasis on practical conservation work, and you’re likely to join many different activities.

  • Assist with the rescue and rehabilitation of penguins and sea birds
  • Plant indigenous trees and removal of alien species to rehabilitate land and minimise our carbon footprint
  • Hike on the Robberg peninsula, studying rock pools and clearing rubbish as you go
  • Maintain small aquariums at the centre, including collection of fish food and cleaning of aquariums
  • Support local initiatives, from helping to maintain enclosures at wildlife sanctuaries to cleaning dog enclosures at a local animal welfare society

Community outreach

The project has a long-standing working relationship with local pre-schools. If your trip is during term time, you’ll join them for weekly fun education sessions.

  • Inspire the local kids about conservation and the mysteries of the sea
  • Support experienced educators to help the kids learn through play

LEARN

As well as gaining all kinds of practical work experience (which you can read about under the ‘do’ tab), you’ll learn about the behaviour, biology and conservation of dolphins, whales, sharks and South Africa’s other marine species.

You will also learn about:

  • Cetacean physiology and anatomy
  • Biodiversity and evolution
  • Moon phases and the tides
COSTS

Our costs include:

Accommodation

Internal Flights

Airport Meet & Greet

Transfers

24/7 Support

Personal Guidance

Meals

Cost Calculator

TOTAL COST: £0000

Looking for something bespoke?

You can volunteer at more than one project during your time in Africa. Please contact us for a bespoke quote including travel arrangements between locations.

Payment

Costs are subject to change but will be confirmed in writing at the time of booking.

From helping us work out which volunteering experience would suit best, to making sure we knew exactly when and where to be in country, we found the level of service from ACE to be exceptional. So much so that we want to continue helping them with their great work supporting meaningful conservation projects in Africa, with the right type of volunteer.

It was without doubt the best trip of my life so far. Not only was it the perfect opportunity to help me stand out in my Veterinary Medicine University application but it has given me unforgettable memories and I met many inspiring people.

Emma Vet Experience Profile Picture

I would highly recommend the Shimongwe Wildlife Veterinary Experience to anyone with a veterinary background, whether that be a vet/vet student or veterinary nurse/nurse student, who has an interest in wildlife and conservation and wants to test themselves and take their veterinary skills and knowledge to the next level.

I had a very enjoyable three weeks in Botswana on an African Conservation Experience volunteer holiday. We were based in a campsite about 2 hours bumpy ride from Maun on the southeast edge of the Okavango Delta area. The facilities were much better than I was expecting - I had my own tent and there was a metal bed frame so I wasn't sleeping on the ground, there was a plumbed-in toilet, sink and bucket shower.

As someone who is well-travelled and particularly well-versed in adventure/adrenaline-fuelled activities I found the whole experience truly rewarding, especially as it gave me a chance to give something useful back. My daughter, Sarah, had spent an equally rewarding 3 weeks at Phinda 9 years ago and it was on her recommendation that I ‘followed in her footsteps’ - I’m extremely glad that I did!

This project showed me how to use telemetry equipment to monitor the collared animals, setting up camera traps, dehorning and notching rhinos, recording GPS coordinates electronically and taking photos for I.D kits. This project is perfect if you wish to go into a research and monitoring career.

Would I say that the experience changed my life? Absolutely. You learn life skills and gain confidence you never thought you could in these experiences, and that is something I, personally, cannot thank the ACE team and the team I worked with in Phinda enough for.

I feel very privileged that I had the opportunity to be part of such a great project and contribute to wildlife conservation in Namibia.

It’s actually nature – everywhere. In Botswana, everything is so wild and pure, and you never know when the animals will appear from the thick bush.

What Makes Us Different?

Southern Africa's original conservation travel company

We are qualified zoologists and conservationists

Personal guidance before you book

Join real wildlife conservation projects

Enjoy total peace of mind, with 24/7 in-country support

Empower vital conservation initiatives

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