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Typical Project Week


Project start day. Town trip to pick up our Participants and restock supplies.


Early start setting out on a set route drive as part of our game counting program to determine populations of general game. In the afternoon we depart for a monitoring drive to locate one of our key species of interest; lion, elephant, leopards or hyena.


Waterhole monitoring in the morning to determine species utilisation of the area. We set off for a drive in the afternoon to the breeding boma to monitor the buffalo, Livingstone eland and nyala.


Habitat work; we could be busy with exotic plant removal, erosion control or bush clearing. In the afternoon or evening, we head out on hyena monitoring and night patrol.


Early morning start and we will be out locating the elephants as part of the ongoing research into the elephant contraception program. The afternoon we will set out to monitor bird species on our way to a sleep out under the stars with the Endangered Species project.


Habitat work in the morning, followed by an afternoon monitoring drive focusing on our lion population. On return in the evening, we may head out to the local pub or have a typical South African braai (BBQ).


Either an outing will be planned or it will be a free day for ​interns to relax or head out on their own tour.

In between activities, interns will 
receive a series of presentations of our 
work, or how to approach dangerous 
game on foot, or possibly history 
lecture. This time will also be used to 
transfer all data collected onto the 
computers and compile the weekly 
research report, as well as helping out 
with vehicle checks and cleaning.

Wildlife Monitoring

Elephant Monitoring

We introduced elephants in 1994 and 1996 and was the first reserve to have intact family groups relocated to it.  The reserve was also the first to take part in the Elephant Contraception Program, headed by Audrey Delsink from the Humane Society International, in order to regulate its total elephant population.  We understand the importance of alternative population controls other than culling and translocation.  The program started in 2000 and is the longest running of its kind; it is the benchmark on which all other similar projects are based.  This is a pioneering study and it is important that we continue to monitor the elephant herds as we understand the most extensive and longest continuing database of elephants on contraception in the world.

Our monitoring of the elephants involves recording their movements to determine daily and seasonal ranging patterns.  We also observe and record long term behavioural aspects, focusing primarily on herd/bull associations and sexual ​behaviorism.  Elephants are a key-stone species and require constant information collection for effective management decision making.

Lion Monitoring

The monitoring of our lion population is done to assess their movements, behaviour and predator-prey interactions. Lions, like elephants, are key-stone species and, within restricted wild environments, require constant monitoring to assist with management interventions when required. Interventions are done to vary genetic diversity within the population and to control population size. Makalali has participated with various population control methods and research. Contraception of lions has been used and studied within this reserve. Lions are prolific breeders and between 1995 and 2007, 89 lions were born on the reserve. Numbers however need to be kept between 20 and 30.

Hyena Monitoring

The reserve is host to both species of Hyena; brown and spotted. The Spotted hyena are superior in numbers and are a very important species for the effective functioning of this eco-system. They provide the cleaning up of carcasses, as well as being effective hunters.  We monitor den sites and activity and ID specific individuals to track interaction and behaviour.  We also monitor the ratio of scavenging to hunting and how this impacts on the prey species.The brown hyena are very rare and sightings of them are met with great excitement.

Leopard Monitoring

We closely monitor the locations of leopards to determine territory extent as well as creating and updating ID kits to monitor individuals and determine total population size.  As with all predators, we also monitor prey selection and reproductive behaviour to effectively assist the reserve management.In 2014, we teamed up with the Panther Leopard Research Project, who are monitoring and determining the leopard population in the area.  This project is planned to continue for the next 10 years.  Working in conjunction with the Endangered Species Project you will assist with the setting and monitoring of camera traps during the key months of February and March.

Buffalo Monitoring

The  Reserve has not had free roaming buffalo on the land for over 100 years. In 2009 the reserve re-introduced 8 disease free buffalo into a 400 hectare breeding camp, 10 years later in 2019 the population has grown to 52 buffalo. They were released into the open system in June 2019. We will be monitoring the buffalo very closely as they integrate into the larger reserve and will be interacting for the first time with predators. It is an exciting and nerve racking development. We now have free-roaming big 5.

Camera Trap Projects & Habitat Work

We deploy camera traps throughout the reserve to monitor leopards and the other more secretive animals that inhabit our reserve. We work with and University of Minnesota for these two camera trap projects.

Habitat Rehabilitation: Our interns will have the opportunity to assist in ongoing habitat rehabilitation initiatives in the reserve, including erosion control, the construction of rock gabions, brush-packing and re-seeding

Accommodation and Menu

Interns will stay at a guest house with several rooms that accommodate 2-4 volunteers each with communal bathrooms. Each cottage is equipped with a full kitchen, patio and BBQ area for socializing.

Included in this program is breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. If you have any dietary requirements please make us aware prior to your arrival.


451 rhinos were poached in South Africa in 2021.


1215 were poached in 2014

20 000

Only 20 000 lions are left in the wild, down from 450 000 over the past 50 years.

120 000

Chobe National Park has over 120 000 elephants, the largest elephant population in the world.

Learning outcomes you will gain during this internship

  • Describe the general principles which govern ecosystem interactions and provide specific examples from Southern Africa.
  • Identify common organism and their taxonomy.
  • Explain animal behavior and how it relates to physiological requirements, consumption, predation, and reproduction.
  • Use a variety of field techniques to gather data which can be used to address ecological and management questions.
  • Use proper techniques to approach and handle wildlife when appropriate.
  • Communicate with local communities and scientists to understand the stakeholder viewpoints which are important to the management decisions.
  • Understand how the landscape impacts wildlife and how that landscape can be altered or improved.
  • Incorporate climate change science into wildlife management.
  • Describe the goals and strategies that wildlife managers employ in Southern Africa.
  • Model human impact on wildlife management decisions.
  • Describe the impact of intraspecific and interspecific interactions on population dynamics.

Wish List:

[Should you wish to bring some items from home]
  • Shoes which are no longer in use (both adult and children’s’ sizes, for visits to the local communities)
  • Clothing which is no longer in use. (both adult and children’s’ sizes, for visits to the local communities)
  • Educational Toys for the local community children.