Right now, there’s a concerted global wildlife conservation effort, in which volunteers from all over the world contribute their time, money, and skills to help ensure that not only the African wildlife survives, but also to help the African locals develop sustainable sources of income. And the great thing is, anyone can join. If you’re wondering how to spend your gap year, then you should know that deciding to participate in such conservation programmes in Africa may be your best choice ever.

Swimming with Great White Sharks

Well, the phrase ‘swim with great white sharks’ may sound like a recipe for disaster (or maybe a new ‘Jaws’ rip-off), but in the context of wildlife conservation, saving these magnificent sea creatures requires the kind of educated understanding that can be gained only through personal interaction with the sharks. As you may know, despite being considered as the world’s remaining greatest predator, great white sharks are actually endangered, thanks to widespread misconception about their nature and culturally-prescribed medicinal beliefs regarding the consumption of their precious body parts-so much that about a hundred million of them are needlessly slaughtered each year. There are a number of projects that involve research and conservation of these ocean creatures, and the work is done in cooperation with professional sport divers, marine researchers, and even local fishermen.

All the Stalking Fauna at the Pumba Private Game Reserve

Another incredibly awesome wildlife conservation project is one that is based in what is called the Pumba Private Game Reserve. Here, volunteers-depending on their chosen project length-will spend two or more weeks in the reserve, conducting research, tracking fauna, or simply just going out on thrilling outings. The greatest thing about the Pumba reserve is its location-it has within its expansive stretches seven of South Africa’s Biomes. That is why the reserve has been the perfect habitat for more than twenty species of antelope, as well as giraffe, hyenas, hippos and cheetahs. The Pumba is also home to one of the only two populations of white lion in the continent. Needless to say, any volunteer who works in the reserve gets the rare opportunity to be right where much of the action is.

Experience the Shamwari

Touted as a ‘wildlife conservation experience you’ll never forget,’ the volunteer work in the world-renowned Shamwari Game Reserve is complete and extensive-there’s something here for everybody, whether for the short- or long-term. You can also be assured that you’re getting nothing but well-planned and well-designed projects that will present as a good physical and intellectual challenge, as well as ones that have a significant positive impact on the local communities-the Conservation Department designing the projects has won awards for that. Not only will you directly take part in the conservation efforts of the reserve, but you’ll also have a hand in understanding the ecology of the region and working to preserve or even improve that. And as a sweet icing on the cake, you’ll also have the opportunity to change children’s lives, as you take part in the educational efforts of the project organiser.