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Wildlife Conservation Research in South Africa with PoD

Polly saw the Big 5 in South Africa with PoD

Polly volunteered at the Big 5 Wildlife Conservation in South Africa and experienced amazing encounters with Africa's famous Big 5 - lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard. She lived on a private game reserve and received a 1 week bush craft training course.

"I went on the project as I'm studying Wildlife Conservation and really wanted to gain some practical experience. This was my first time volunteering on a project like this, and my first time in Africa and it has changed my perspective on everything, especially the way I live. All the stress I had been feeling disappeared and it reinforced my desire to complete my course and start working out in the wild and making a difference as soon as possible.

I had the most amazing time, met the most amazing people, saw some amazing things and made some unforgettable friends and memories. The staff organised some fantastic days out, and evenings were spent around the campfire talking to the other volunteers. Days were spent out in the reserve, where we saw cheetah, lions, elephants, rhino etc or doing physical work, such as building a fire pit or creating a firebreak. Overall, the experience was fantastic and I will never forget it!

Typical day: Wake up, any time between 5 and 7 depending on the plan for the day. Have Up close and personal with a buffalo on a conservation project with PoD in South Africabreakfast, load up the game vehicle, and set off. During my stay, we focused mainly on rhino I.D so we spent many days driving around the reserve locating rhino. During the morning we'd have a coffee break in the reserve where we could savour the breath-taking surroundings before setting off again. We'd head back to camp around 3-5 where we'd clean up and start dinner. Evenings around the campfire were an occasion for all the volunteers to relax and laugh.

Most rewarding part of the project:
Taking part in rhino capture and doing the monthly field survey. The rhino capture was amazing as most people don't get to take part in it, but the survey was rewarding as I got to learn how to use various equipment and really felt that I was contributing to research.

Most challenging part of the project: Slashing/cutting down the trees to create a fire break. It was very satisfying when I cut down my first tree but working in the heat was very hard and cutting trees down with machetes requires a lot of work.

Polly's gap year provided life lasting memories and experiencesWhat advice would you give to others considering this project? Do it! It really is a unique rewarding experience and you learn so much and it changes everything. No matter what you end up doing, you'll never forget the time you spend there.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Because it changes your perspective about life and you learn so much about wildlife but also about the person you want to be.

Why did you choose PoD and would you recommend them to others? Yes! Because I got a quick response, it was cheaper than the other organisations I looked at, and it just seemed very professional and supportive...which it was."

If you would like to find out about volunteering at the Big 5 Wildlife Conservation in South Africa with PoD please visit our project page

If you would like to apply for a place volunteering with PoD please visit


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