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Tsau! White Lion Conservation Volunteer Project, South Africa

Reference   (Please mention Stopdodo/Environment Jobs in your application)
Sectors Terrestrial / Aquatic Ecology & Conservation
Location South Africa - Africa
Salary Additional Information Voluntary
Type Temporary / Contract / Seasonal
Status Full Time
Level Voluntary & Interns
Deadline 24/02/2016
Company Name WorkingAbroad Projects
Contact Name Vicky McNeil
Telephone 01273 479 047
Email victoria.mcneil@workingabroad.com
Website Further Details / Applications
WorkingAbroad Projects logo
Also Listing:

Volunteers and interns form part of the conservation monitoring and tracking team, and have a rare opportunity to gain authentic field experience whilst making a valuable contribution to the long-term conservation of the white lions.  You can participate in a range of projects including Lion Monitoring, Anti-Poaching Activities, Scientific Research and Environmental Education

You can join for 1 week up to 12 weeks all year round and we have places all throughout 2013 and 2014 available.

Individuals, groups, students doing research all welcome.

The Project

Volunteers can participate in a range of projects whilst on the programme, including:

  • Lion Monitoring
  • Anti-Poaching Activities
  • Habitat Management
  • Scientific Research
  • Community Development

The focus of the scientific aspect is on daily monitoring (dawn and dusk) of the two prides reintroduced to free-roaming conditions in their endemic habitat. The project offers an exclusive opportunity for suitable volunteers to form part of the conservation monitoring and tracking team. As such, volunteers need to be very dynamic and adaptable to the changing day-to-day needs of the project. Candidates have a real opportunity to gain authentic field experience, whilst making a valuable contribution to the long-term conservation of the white lions.  Opportunities for research students/internships are also available - please email us for more details.

Project Details

Lion Monitoring
Lion-tracking using telemetry
GIS mapping
Recording lion behaviour
Veterinary care of lions (*)

Anti-Poaching Activities
Fence maintenance and fence patrol with the security team
Dawn, dusk and midnight security patrols
Study of anti-poaching techniques (*)

Habitat Management
Bush thinning
Erosion control
Gabion construction
Alien plant control
Lion Predation Activities
Supplementary feeding (during boma bonding)
Boma clearing
Game capture and release (*)

Scientific Research
Predator / prey study
Data capturing of research information

Community Development
Community activities including: nature walks and hikes through the mountains, community involvement, playing football
Working with local schools including: language and culture swap, White Lion Poetry Exploration Project, Drumming and Traditional Dancing
Eco-Educational programme (*)
Organic food-growth programme (*)
Eco-Construction of dwellings (*)
(*) when available.

Please note: As a serious reintroduction project, hands-on contact is avoided in the best interests of the animals, except when tranquilised for veterinary treatment or the fitting of radio-collars. Please be cautioned that cub-petting and animal habituation to humans is associated with captive breeding (making reintroduction unlikely to succeed), and often, unfortunately, with “canned” (unethical) hunting activities.

Extra Activities for Volunteers:
Some extra activities during free time could include: Game-drive in neighbouring reserves, On-foot wilderness walk at neighbouring reserves, Day-trip to Kruger National Park, Day-trip of panoramic route including visitor sites such as God's window, Pilgrims' Rest, Hazeyview etc., Visit to the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Protection Centre, Visit to the Khamai Reptile Park, Visit to spectacular waterfalls in the area, Visit to the Cotton Club, African silk factory, Hot air balloon rides and River-horse out-rides. Please note that these are at your own cost.


This programme is run by a South African based non-profit organisation with a dual conservation and community objective. On the conservation side, they have been implementing the White Lion Protection Plan™, which includes the world-first reintroduction of White Lions back to their natural habitat in the Greater Timbavati region, and their long-term survival there. On the community side, they have initiated eco-educational programmes, cultural revival programmes and social upliftment initiatives in an effort to ensure that this rare White Lion heritage is protected in perpetuity.(*Tsau! Is a San / Bushman incantation for Lion.)

As an organisation, they respect the cultures of indigenous peoples, and their spiritual beliefs. It is recommended (although not imperative) that volunteers read the book, Mystery of the White Lions, before joining the programme. This book was written by the Founder of the programme, Linda Tucker, and is based on 10 years of primary research with indigenous elders and scientists. It considers the mythological/ legendary aspects of the White Lions, as well as the scientific. Volunteers are given the choice of engaging more deeply in the cultural/spiritual aspects of the White Lion heritage; furthering scientific pursuits; or simply enjoying the wide spread of activities.

The White Lion Trust's research objectives are based on those of the IUCN. In 2002, when the White Lion Trust was first established, there were no known White Lion individuals remaining in the wild in the Greater Timbavati and this had been the status for the past decade. With a critical need to supplement the White Lion gene in the wild, the White Lion Trust launched its world-first White Lion Reintroduction Programme.Today (2009) the Reintroduction Progamme can be considered successful as the founding pride hunts self-sufficiently and is reproducing without human intervention.

Lodging, Food, Travel, Health, Timbavati Region

Food and accommodation:
You will stay in ranch style house that accommodates 8 volunteers. There are shared utilities, including two bathrooms with two showers/baths. There is a communal kitchen complete with stove, oven, refrigerator, and freezer. All utensils, dishes, sheets, and towels are provided. The volunteer house has electricity, but the showers are cold showers. You will have access to the internet once a week at the Tsau main office. Two volunteer coordinators reside in the house so you will always be taken care of. They are there to make your experience unforgettable and to answer any questions you may have. Meals are communal style. Each participant will cook dinner one night.

Each participant will contribute R200.00 (£15) a week for communal grocery shopping. There will be a weekly town trip to purchase groceries and supplies. Transport related to any additional (non-WLT) activities is not included; independent shuttle/car hire companies are available from the nearest town (Hoedspruit) at your own expense. 

Volunteer requirements:

  • Age between 19 and 90 years old.
  • Interest / field of study: conservation, environmental science, wildlife management, ecology or wildlife biology, wildlife journalism, wildlife photography, veterinary science, animal behavior studies, animal communication, cultural / community development, alternative disciplines in science or ‘sacred science’; or fields related to the aforementioned.
  • Personal qualities of flexibility and adaptability.
  • Self-sufficiency: as a member of the conservation team, volunteers prepare their own meals and are responsible for their own ‘house-keeping’.
  • Self-motivated: a carefully structured full programme is provided each week, but volunteers need to be adaptable to some programme changes depending on variables in the running of the project. Free time is also factored in, and volunteers need to be independent and mature enough to make constructive use of such recreational time.
Please note: this project is not intended / ideal for ‘gap year’ students. Student volunteers need to be hard-working, emotionally mature, have an openness to personal growth; and a willingness to benefit from the unique opportunities and challenges of this valuable project which is breaking ground both scientifically and culturally. Of course, the real value and appreciation of the experience remains the responsibility of the individual.

All field data collected will contribute to research being done by the Lion Ecologist for a PhD study on White Lion Reintroduction, Ecology and Adaptation to their Natural Environment. For appropriately qualified individuals, research topics may be available. Topics include: data analysis; lion behavioural ecology; feeding ecology; spatial dynamics; reintroduction methodology; and predator-prey dynamics, thereby making a valuable contribution to the WLT’s ongoing efforts to have the White Lions protected through scientific research. For more details, please email Vicky McNeil.

Getting there
You can fly to Johannesburg from most parts of the world. Volunteers either fly JHB to Hoedspruit (SA Express; expensive at up to GBP220 return for 1hr flight) or more commonly get the City to City Bus (Translux; GBP15 each way for the 6 hour trip). You are then collected from Hoedspruit / Eastgate Airport or the bus stop in Hoedspruit.

It is recommended that you obtain some vaccinations and medication before coming to South Africa. You should see your GP or visit a travel clinic at a suitable time before arrival. Tell them where you are going and they can tell you what vaccinations are required and what medical precautions you need to take. The Timbavati Region is a malarial area, and prophylaxis is recommended (especially in the summer months of Oct to April). We provide mosquito nets in the rooms, but please bring sufficient supplies of medication or personal items you may require, as not all products/drugs may be able in South Africa.

The nearest hospital is in Hoedspruit, approximately 35km from the Tsau! Conservancy. There is also a medical centre with doctor, dentist, optometrist, physiotherapist and chiropractor in Hoedspruit.

Passport and visa
A valid passport with at least 2 blank pages in it, is necessary to enter South Africa. Since visa requirements vary from country to country, please check with your local embassy as to whether a visa is required to enter South Africa.

Dangerous animals
Every precaution is taken to ensure the safety of all volunteers on our programme, but volunteers must be aware that there are dangerous animals such as poisonous snakes, scorpions, spiders, as well as lion, leopard and spotted hyaena.

Facilities, Amenities
In Hoedspruit, the following are available: medical centre, pharmacy, three large grocery stores, bush clothing stores, banking facilties & ATM’s (Visa / Electron/ Maestro), restaurants, internet café, camera store, and general wholesaler (bedding, linen, crockery, cutlery).

The Timbavati Region - Geography and Climate

The Timbavati Region is located in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, bordering the world famous Kruger National Park. It is at the centre of the Kruger 2 Canyons Biosphere Reserve, the third largest biosphere (conservation region) in the world. The nearest town is Hoedspruit.
The Timbavati Region is situated in a summer rainfall area of South Africa. The climate is typified by a summer wet season, which is roughly confined to the period from October to March, with the majority of precipitation occurring from December to February. The remainder of the year tends to be dry, with rare occurrences of precipitation.

Temperatures tend to be high during the day, but they drop at night by 10 to 15ºC. A mean daily maximum temperature for the wet season (October to March) is 32.6 ºC and the mean daily minimum temperature is 20.5 ºC. The mean daily maximum temperature for the dry season (April to September) is 28.4 ºC and the mean daily minimum temperature is then 10.8 ºC.

Additional details

For more information regarding this opportunity, please visit the main project page here, or contact Vicky McNeil here. The application form can be found here, though it is advised that applicants express interest before applying, in order to discuss personal situations.

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