Help elephants say "goodbye" to life in the circus
Get into the hearts of these gentle giants - the animal that they say will "never forget" - and become part of a remarkable journey to rehabilitate, conserve and really get to know one of the most magnificent creatures on earth.
Threatened for years by hunters desperate to get their hands on the beautiful ivory tusks, or displaced by new communities being built in the heart of their homeland, the number of elephants in the wild has plummeted across Africa. Oyster is working closely with a team of committed conservationists whose aim is to reintroduce elephants to an area that used to boast hundreds of wild elephants- and now there are none.
The park is home to nine resident elephants, who roam freely and safely in the 110 hectare site. Many have been rescued from difficult situations- life as a circus elephant or rescued from a culling project at Kruger, but under the care and attention of the team, they are starting to reproduce and gain strength in their environment.
Immediately an important member of the team, you spend your days out in the fields with the elephants, helping with important research and monitoring. The research goes towards improving the living conditions of the elephants here, which hopefully in the long term will spread around the country. This is the only place in which welfare through research is carried out, which leads towards successful rehabilitation amongst the elephants.
What will I be doing?
Spend your days working with elephants first hand to examine the relationship between them and humans, and form a very real bond with these magnificent creatures in a controlled free range environment. The elephants walk in the fields as they do in the wild but are under the constant eye of experienced guides as they are living amongst humans. They are never asked to perform tricks or behave in a manner that is not natural to them.
As a volunteer at the park, you get involved in feeding and caring for the animals, as well as helping with educational and research work. Typical tasks include:
- Doing research projects, following and observing the elephants and recording their behaviour, taking samples of dung and plants etc.
- Preparing food and milk bottles (for baby elephants)
- Feeding the elephants
- Assisting the handlers with daily tours and attending to visitors when there are high numbers of visitors
- Assisting with vet care
- Inputting the research collected into a large database
- Help producing the food for the ellies in the park's garden
- Producing educational or advertising material (e.g. leaflets or presentations)
- Helping with maintenance work around the park
The great thing about this project is that it gets you close to the elephants in a way that you would never be able to experience on safari. You will get to know them and, incredibly, find that they also get to know and trust you as well. It is perfect for anyone who has a passion for these magnificent animals and wants to help safeguard their future.
Other highlights include spending real quality time with the ellies, on sunrise walks through the fields and helping with their night time enrichment- and watching as they fall asleep after a day out and out doing what elephants do.
'It is as if they sense what you are thinking'. - Tim July 2010
You fly in to George (GRJ), a quick connection away from Cape Town (CPT), located along the stunning Garden Route. From George you will be met from your flight and taken up to the elephants.
Oyster can book flights for you or you may prefer to book them yourself.
Alternatively you can travel by car or bus. The distance is about 230 miles by road and will take about 5 hours along the stunningly attractive Garden Route when driving.
Accommodation and food
Your accommodation is right at the heart of the park, sharing with other volunteers and staff. Each room has two to three beds, so depending on the number of volunteers, you may have their own room or be sharing with one of two others. There are ensuite and shower facilities for each room.
The lounge area is very comfortable with and the kitchen is fully equipped. Each room has lockers for the safekeeping of your belongings. Laundry facilities readily available and internet access is available at all times
The nearest supermarket is 8 km away and we organise weekly shopping trips to town so that everyone can re-stock on supplies.
Cost and what support is provided?
£797 for two weeks with additional weeks £184. Discount for projects above 8 weeks.
For departures after 1st April 2014 2 weeks will cost £801 with additional weeks at £197.
What is Provided?
- Phone or face-to-face interview and detailed briefing
- Pre-departure information covering medical, safety and placement advice
- Advice on visa requirements
- Help and advice from our UK office before departure and whilst away
- Pre-arranged voluntary work at the park with accommodation.
- A warm meet and greet at George airport and transfer to accommodation
- Accommodation with ensuite facilities and kitchen/lounge and.internet access
- Oyster will prepare you thoroughly before you leave and support you while you are out there.
- ATOL financial protection (if Oyster books your flight)
- Transport to town on a weekly basis to buy food. (approx £15.00 per week)
- Free access to InterHealth's Travel Health Advice Service
- Free myTsafe secure document storage account - worth £25!
What do I need?
- A passport valid for 6 months beyond the end of your placement
- Insurance - we recommend you a policy
- Flights to George (GRJ). We can help organise these for you.
- Pocket money - eating out, telephone cards etc - recommend £300 max for one month.
- Warm outdoor clothing for the evenings
- Funds for any independent travel
One more thing...
The African elephant is now just one step away from being an 'endangered species'. This is vital work.
Combine two South Africa projects and save £50 Find out more...