Pumba Volunteer Conservation Programme

South Africa is made up of 7 different vegetation biomes, and the Pumba Private Game Reserve (PPGR) features 5 of them. It’s a truly unique environment, with over 21 species of Antelope, as well all the ‘Big 5’ animals, Giraffe, Spotted Hyena, Hippo and Cheetah. If you had to use one word to encapsulate the reserve it would be ‘diversity’. The cherry on top of this amazing range of animals is an incredibly rare population of free-ranging While Lion; one of only two known in all of South Africa.

As a student and volunteer on the conservation programme, you will work under the guidance of experienced instructors and professionals in specific fields of biodiversity. You will be exposed to the whole reserve on practical outings, both on foot and by vehicles. There are also informative lectures held throughout the programme, and every volunteer on the course will deepen their understanding of nature through a combination of structured workbooks and team-oriented projects.

Full Course Details


Project Type: Conservation, Big Five Game Reserve.

Location: Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Pick Up Point: Port Elizabeth Airport.

Duration: 2 weeks – 6 weeks.

Price: from £1,099 for 2 Weeks.

Start Dates: Projects start on a Monday and operate year round.

Accommodation: Purpose built volunteer house situated on the Game Reserve.

Meals: Three meals per day included.

Age Range: 17 Plus.


The reserve is involved in a number of important initiatives, and as a volunteer you will assist the resident professionals with their work. Pumba has stringent ethics regarding conservation and socio-economic improvement, and has put together a number of different projects with them in mind. These include:

– The Greenleaf Environment Initiative
– Umzi-Wethu
– Seven Fountains Agri-village
– White Lion Breeding Programme
– Leopard Monitoring and Rehab Programme
– Re-assessment of the Landscape
– Rare and Endangered Species Introductory Programme

While volunteering on the reserve, you will be introduced to each of these initiatives and given the chance to get actively involved in their day-to-day running and development.

At its heart, the PPGR Conservation Project is designed to give volunteers and gap year students the change to work on the conservation projects throughout the reserve. All volunteers on the programme will have a direct influence on the quality of the reserve. There is a huge range of diversity in the work you can do; volunteers could spend one day clearing alien vegetation, then the next rehabilitating and monitoring animals, or helping put anti-poaching measures in place around the reserve.

Conservation Management
A large part of the volunteer programme is conservation management. The needs are always taken into account when planning conservation, so you can be reassured that any work you are doing is work that the reserve really needs. This also ensures that every day is different, with plenty of variation to keep things interesting. Please keep in mind that many of these activities are physical in nature, so be prepared!

Daily activities could include:
– Game counts.
– Sex and age ratio recordings of specific species in the reserve. i.e. Eland, Giragge, Red Hartebeest
– Alien Vegetation Control.
– Soil Erosion Control
– Restoring Degraded Thicket
– Reserve Clean-up Operations
– Road Maintenance and Clearing.
– Fence Inspections/Maintenance and Anti-poaching

Other conservation management activities may come up at any time, and if they do then the reserve will likely draw on your assistance to get the job done.

Research Projects
While volunteering on the reserve, you will likely be involved with at least one ongoing research project. These often extend beyond your time on the reserve, but your work collecting data is very meaningful, as the reserve’s permanent staff will use the information you collect to further their work.

Some examples of the research projects currently being conducted at Pumba are:

– Spatial Distribution and Habitat use of Elephant and Rhinoceros on the reserve.
– Habitat use and prey selection of Lions on the reserve.
– Monitoring a newly released group of Leopard.
– The ‘Birds in Reserves’ project.
– Butterfly conservation assessment.
– Reptile conservation assessment.
– Hyena tracking and monitoring.
– Compiling of a preliminary list and photographic record of flowering plants on the reserve.
– Establishing display cabinets of interesting artefacts found on the reserve: i.e. bones, insects & butterflies.

Animal Rehabilitation Centre
The reserve is also home to a rehabilitation centre. Here volunteers will have the opportunity to assist with feeding and care of animals in rehabilitation, as well as the maintenance of important livestock enclosures. Once the wildlife is released back into the wild, volunteers may have the opportunity to monitor their activity to see how they are doing.

Practical Education and Theory
As part of the project, volunteers are given field booklets that they are welcome to take home. These are compiled to enhance your time at PPGR, but make for useful study guides afterwards as well. The booklets cover three main subjects: The principles of conservation, habitat, and game management. By providing a strong theoretical insight into the conservation project, we aim to further enhance your practical experiences, which are provided by way of game drives, bush walks, and field skills & survival workshops. Fieldbooks also feature checklists for mammal, plant, and bird life; so volunteers can keep a track of their wildlife sightings while on reserve.

Where You'll Stay


Whilst conducting your Conservation Volunteer Project you will be accommodated at the Training Academy within the reserve, which comprises of a fully furnished farmstead with five double bedrooms, and seven double on suite chalets with a communal lodge area with a kitchen, Dining room, lounge, and bar area.

There is a lecture room, a lounge with a TV and DSTV (sky equivalent), a Library and Facility where internet can be accessed, a dining room and a fully equipped kitchen with fridge, micro-wave, cutlery and crockery and cooking utensils. The facility has a boma, which is a place for unwinding and discussing the day’s activities while enjoying a braai (BBQ) under the African stars.

All Housekeeping and meals from Monday to Fridays will be done by in house staff who, on request, will also do your laundry as well. Students will be asked to assist the in-house staff, with meal preparation and housekeeping where required. Over weekends students will be off, and be required to cater and clean their rooms themselves.


Pumba Game Reserve is located in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and interesting regions on planet Earth. The Eastern Cape’s biodiversity is unmatched in Southern Africa.

For the sunseekers, the Wild Coast and the Sunshine Coast has some of the world’s best beaches. For exquisite beaches try Bushman’s River Mouth or Kenton-on-Sea. The Sunshine Coast is also very well known for its surfing waves.

Jeffreys Bay is an area with some of the country’s wildest coastline, which is backed by some of Africa’s most spectacular sub-tropical rainforest. Famous for its “supertubes”, probably South Africa’s longest and most consistently good wave, this affluent area is charged with a friendly and relaxed surfing vibe.. Near Cape St. Francis is Seal Point and it is one of the best places to take surfing photos.

The area is an ideal base to explore the wonders of South Africa because of an array of attractions and you can choose to do this during or after your experience.

Gallery Rates


2 Weeks – £1,099
4 Weeks – £1,999
6 Weeks – £2,599


£200 deposit to secure placement at time of booking, final balance due 8 weeks prior to departure.


– Pre departure support and documentation.
– Programme fee and contribution.
– Return Transfers Port Elizabeth Airport to Pumba Game Reserve.
– Accommodation for duration of stay.
– Housekeeping costs.
– All meals (Semi Participation).
– Reserve activities.
– All transportation on project.
– 24 hour in country support.


– Flights.
– Travel Insurance.
– Any vaccinations as recommended by your GP.
– Internet access.
– Soft drinks and snacks.
– Any visas required.
– Any additional activities outside of project itinerary.


If you have any questions, or if you’d like to find out more about this incredible adventure and create some unforgettable memories, just fill in the form below and one of our team will be in touch as soon as possible.

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