South Africa - Mutogomeli Rhino and Elephant Protection Initiative

Protect Wildlife for Future Generations

Be a hands-on part of this African-led solution to protecting endangered elephant and rhino populations on a vast, rugged reserve.

Do something completely unique

The experience volunteers get on this SWAP program is totally unique and something they would never be able to do as a normal tourist on African reserves.

See Africa's "Big 5" animal species!

The vast reserve has an amazing variety of African wildlife - and you can help keep it that way!

Volunteer Placements since 2002

Our trusted partner in South Africa has focused on volunteer projects since 2002, and we're proud to offer the opportunity for a more exciting and fulfilling travel adventure to Canadians.

South Africa - Mutogomeli Rhino and Elephant Protection Initiative

  • In 2014, the South African government reported that a record 1020 rhinos were killed by poachers. As South Africans move to face the problem, national parks and reserves are increasing the amount and quality of monitoring of local rhino and elephant populations in order to protect these critically endangered and vulnerable species. This is where you come in.

    The Mutogomeli Rhino and Elephant Initiative is run on a vast, rugged reserve north of Johannesburg (Limpopo). "Mutogomeli" means "Guardian" in the Venda language, and volunteers are needed to represent this idea in helping to monitor and guard rhinos and elephants from poachers. New conservation tactics and research projects are also underway on the reserve for all of the wildlife, which features the "Big 5" African species (black / white rhinoceros, African elephant, African lions, Cape buffalo, and African leopards). This is a very hands-on volunteer placement, so volunteers should be adventurous and enthusiastic! You will join a passionate team that will provide real help where it is needed and protect rhinos, elephants, and the other species living there.

    Volunteer tasks include:

    • Tracking / monitoring of rhinos and elephants
    • Reserve management and bush clearing
    • Maintenance such as fence monitoring and road repair
    • Poaching prevention techniques
    • Buffalo monitoring and habituation

    Volunteers (in addition to the staff) will patrol the reserve and obtain visual sightings of the rhinos as well as record their movements to produce accurate range maps. Teams will also maintain a presence in and around the area where the rhinos are travelling. In addition to that, volunteers will also be monitoring local elephant populations in order to better understand their impact on the reserve.

    Volunteers will also help with buffalo habituation - allowing better management of the disease-free herd.

    For reserve management, volunteers will participate in a number of duties as necessary. This may include tasks such as bush clearing, checking water holes, capturing game, patrolling fences and boundary maintenance. These duties are essential for protecting all living creatures on the reserve.

  • Bonus: Kruger National Park Safari

    You'll also go on an amazing Kruger National Park safari! On Day 1 you'll travel with the other project volunteers on an air-conditioned bus to your accommodation for an evening dinner. Bright and early on day 2, you'll see breathtaking landscapes, including Blyde River Canyon, Bourke's Luck Potholes, Berlin Falls, and God's Window before continuing on day 3 to Kruger National Park to see the Big 5 of African wildlife! For those brave souls there is also the chance to go on the Graskop Big Swing (or you can just take in the view while on solid ground). Day 4 will take you back to Johannesburg or the continuation of your volunteer placement, so all transportation is taken care of for you.

    Note on program lengths: While this program is designed for a 2 week placement, there are longer programs available if you wish to volunteer more time! Extended placements for 4, 6, and 8 weeks can be arranged - just contact us for more details.

  • Volunteer Gallery

  • Local Support in South Africa

    Get support from the local staff during your placement! They have been hosting foreign participants for years and will make your volunteer placement as comfortable as they can.

    • Airport pick-up services to the orientation centre in Johannesburg
    • A comprehensive 3-day orientation to prepare you for your placement
    • Local transportation to your project placement, as well as on the Kruger National Park safari
    • ALL MEALS are included as part of the project placement
    • Our partner will provide ongoing guidance and support services throughout the full duration of your stay

  • Accommodation

    The Elephant and Rhino camp is situated on the reserve with thatched chalets, a main dining area and lounge as well as a swimming pool. Each chalet has electricity, a bathroom with flushing toilet, shower (hot water), and basin. All meals are provided.

    The reserve itself is a vast, rugged area in the northern part of the Limpopo province. There is a mountain range and a number of different eco-systems and habitat that makes for a haven for South African wildlife.

  • SWAP's Support and Resources

    • Support from SWAP staff to arrange and confirm your volunteer placement
    • SWAP's personalized assistance in reviewing and editing the necessary applications forms
    • On-location staff and managers to help ensure the program runs smoothly
  • Booking the Mutogomeli Rhino and Elephant Protection Initiative program

    Being part of the SWAP South Africa Mutogomeli Rhino and Elephant Initiative is easy! Download the Application Package, read through the information carefully and complete the forms.

    When you have your application ready, register online HERE.

    You will be funding and providing the person-power behind a passionate team determined to make a lasting difference in protecting and conserving rhino and elephant populations in South Africa.

Help protect South Africa's most vulnerable species on a special 2-week project placement

Program Info

  • Eligibility

    Canadians ages 18+

  • Registration Timeline

    Minimum 8 weeks prior to your preferred start date. The program dates can fill up fast, so register as early as possible - dates subject to availability (See program forms for the specific 2016 program dates)

  • Program Length

    Two weeks + 3-day orientation (and a 4-day Kruger National Park safari)

  • Length of Visa

    3 month tourist visa (you can stay in South Africa before/after your program ends)

  • Start Dates

    Orientations start on the first and third Tuesdays of every month, available year-round! Here are the dates for 2017:

    • January 3, 17
    • February 7, 21
    • March 7, 21
    • April 4, 18
    • May 2, 16
    • June 6, 20
    • July 4, 18
    • Aug 1, 15
    • Sep 5, 19
    • Oct 3, 17
    • Nov 7, 21
    • Dec 5, 19
  • Meals


  • For Only

    SWAP's Mutogomeli Rhino and Elephant Protection Initiative program is only $2600 CAD! That includes a 3-month volunteer visa, 2-week volunteer placement Mutogomeli Rhino and Elephant Protection Initiative, a comprehensive 3-day orientation in Johannesburg, an exciting 4-day safari in Kruger National Park, plus full accommodation and meals for the length of your placement

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