We envisage that each and every volunteer leaves Mapesu having created a small legacy. We are hopeful that all our volunteers believe in our ethos of conservation, providing a protected area and to save endangered species. Our volunteers contribute to the reserve in a meaningful way by assisting the reserve in essential research and reserve tasks and we have created this project because we need the help to achieve our goals. This creates a rewarding experience for both the reserve, volunteers and our staff.

All activities are ethically minded for the protection of the community, and the fauna and flora of the area.


Come work on the frontline of wildlife conservation by helping prevent the extinction of endangered species and their habitat

Game Reserves in South Africa | Mapesu Private Game Reserve

Estimating Leopard Densities

Leopards are listed as vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) list of threatened species and their populations are decreasing throughout Africa. Actual numbers of leopards are difficult to obtain through traditional aerial census, so conservationists are using camera traps for this. You will help to set up cameras and create an ID kit of individual leopards from the photos. This will help the Reserve know the density of leopards on the property, incorporating the information for a global catalogue as well as help in establishing more accurate knowledge of the predator-prey balance on the reserve.
Game Reserves in South Africa | Mapesu Private Game Reserve

Cheetah monitoring

Cheetah are also listed as vulnerable in IUCN’s list of threatened species and this is mainly due to loss of habitat. Two cheetahs were released recently onto the reserve as part of the process of re-wilding the area and due to their endangered status, it is important for the reserve to know how they are adapting to their new environment. You will help to monitor the cheetahs on a regular basis.
Game Reserves in South Africa | Mapesu Private Game Reserve

Bird surveys

Birds can be used as an indicator for biodiversity. To put it simply, where there is high diversity of birds then the ecosystem is providing various habitats for the birds and therefore other animals. You will conduct bird surveys to see whether Mapesu has a varied range of habitats to sustain a good population of birds and other animals.
Game Reserves in South Africa | Mapesu Private Game Reserve

Ecological surveys

As part of the process of restoring the reserve to its full ecological potential, research needs to be conducted on the plant life on the reserve and the ways to increase biodiversity. The reserve also needs to ensure that the food source for herbivores is sufficient. You will conduct habitat surveys to help gain a sustainable carrying capacity for each species on Mapesu Private Game Reserve.
Game Reserves in South Africa | Mapesu Private Game Reserve

Game Transects

Set routes are driven regularly on the reserve and all animal species are observed and recorded. This information is useful to know the health and population of animals are stable. You will help with this; game transects are a really good way of exploring the reserve and spending time observing animals.
Game Reserves in South Africa | Mapesu Private Game Reserve

Extra ad hoc tasks

There may be opportunities to get involved in animal capture and releases onto the reserve. You will need to occasionally get your hands dirty and help with reserve tasks such as filling in holes on the fence line to ensure animals do not escape, cutting branches and taking down reserve structures.
Game Reserves in South Africa | Mapesu Private Game Reserve

Research for Biology/Zoology/Ecology students

We are establishing long-term continuous data which will be available for use. We can also adapt our current research around your needs for your undergraduate or post graduate thesis. If you have a specific project in mind, contact us and our resident scientist can discuss it with you.

Game Reserves in South Africa | Mapesu Private Game Reserve

Research project ideas for undergraduate and postgraduate students

Ecology and reserve management related topics:

  • Bush clearing, how best to establish greater coverage of herbaceous cover?
  • How does bush clearing affect the ecology of a reserve? Using invertebrates (pit fall traps) or birds (bird point counts) as an indicator for biodiversity, compare recently cleared, non-cleared and restored areas.
  • The effect of bush clearing on herbivores over time; how soon do they start utilizing an area that is re-establishing grass cover?

Zoology related topics:

  • Cheetah monitoring: establishing a home range for cheetah, how do they utilize the reserve and how are their movement affected by prey availability?
  • Male buffalo post release, how do they utilize new areas, how do they create a new social structure with the females?
  • Newly released elephants, how do they adapt to new area and why?
  • Using scat analysis as a tool to find the diet of carnivores on the reserve.

Geology/Geography related topics:

  • How to control erosion in a private game reserve in South Africa.
Game Reserves in South Africa | Mapesu Private Game Reserve

Experience the raw, untamed South African bush when you take part in hands-on survival training course.

Learn what it takes to be like the original San people in the area! Throughout the centuries the San people kept alive by having a close relationship with their natural environment and mastered the skill needed to survive in the harshest of conditions. You will be taught skills to exist in the wild without any modern conveniences.

You only need a backpack with essentials!

  • Learn how to track animals
  • Learn how to navigate your way to your camp site
  • Locate the rock art of the San people and be inspired
  • Eat the traditional foods of the area, including mopane worms
  • Find water
  • Find firewood
  • Light a fire with a flint (no matches or firelighters allowed)
  • Create shelter for the night by making your own rope from the plant fibres
  • Camp out under the stars
  • Learn how the San hunted (no hunting will take place) and gathering skills
  • Cook your food on the fire
  • Take turns to be on guard during the night to protect all from dangerous animals that may approach the camp

You will be supervised by qualified and experienced staff at all times for your safety, but all survival activities are up to you!

Once complete, you will be rewarded with a certificate of achievement proving you have the skills, experience and mental strength to make it on your own in the wild.

Two courses available.

  • Basic Survival Course: one night, two days training
  • Ultimate Survival Course: two nights, three full days training

Want to find out more? Contact Amy!

Amy has a degree in Zoology, a Master’s Degree in Endangered Species Recovery and Conservation and is a qualified field guide. She has been working in conservation research since 2010 and has specialized in creating volunteer programs in South Africa. Amy is a firm believer in creating wilderness and protected areas in South Africa. With the help of volunteers, Amy has experience of researching ecology and wildlife with the aim of advising reserve managers to fulfill the reserves potential in maintaining maximum biodiversity.

Tel: +27 604292888

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See what some of our past volunteers think of the programme! It can be a life changing experience.
Check out the reviews!