Conservation Intern at Umphafa Private Nature Reserve

Internship (1-4 Months)
KwaZulu Natal Rest of the World
Review Date
Biology Charity/Non Profit Environmental Science/Research Voluntary


The Role



The Role

Role Description

The placement was a hands on training experience encompassing a huge range of the aspects of living, managing and working in conservation on a game reserve. My placement there included an introduction to the vast array flora and fauna in South Africa, and close encounters with many of the plant and animal species that surrounded us on the reserve.

At UmPhafa I assisted in regular game and progeny monitoring and counting, conducted large mammal ethogram studies, set out camera traps and followed this up by monitoring their memory capacity, battery life, then viewing and recording data from the images captured. I was able to patrol on foot with game rangers and gain insight into their responsibilities in the fight against poaching and maintaining security, plus learnt skills in tracking and bush craft. I was also able to take part in night drives and dusk activities to see how the bush changes after dark.

In addition to the animal management and monitoring in the bush, I assisted with data entry, compiling a Rhino Identification guide, assisting with ongoing Zebra Identification, GPS erosion site location, plus hands on erosion site control. There was also the opportunity to help with routine maintenance including repairs to the look out towers, painting, and tending to the gardens and vegetable plots.

1. To what extent did you enjoy your work placement or internship?

Such a relaxed environment with the friendliest staff, I felt completely at home and had lots of laughs and incredible experiences.


2. To what extent did you feel valued by your colleagues?

My hosts and all the staff made me feel a part of the team and always keen to interact with me and teach me.


3. To what extent were you given support and guidance by management/your supervisor(s)?

I had fantastic mentoring during my placement.


4. How busy were you on a daily basis?

Busy enough to cram the most into every days with plenty of time to chill at the evening and weekends, or get involved in extra activities if I wanted to.


5. How much responsibility were you given during your placement?

I was given more responsibility and independence as time progressed but also carefully monitored so I didn;t feel I had been left to it on my own.


6. To what extent did/will the skills you developed, and training you received, assist you in your degree studies and beyond?

I have learnt skills and knowledge that would be hard to gain without being in the field with such excellent teachers.


The Organisation

7. What was the general atmosphere in your office?

Laid back but busy, a contradiction, the work was always there but I never felt pressured or stressed, how can you when the African bush is your office!


8. How well organised was the overall work placement or internship set up?

Absolutely floor-less, everything was explained to me, in advance and during the placement, and I had every opportunity to ask any questions at any point.


9. In terms of personal training and development, to what extent did the company or firm invest in you?

They gave me their undivided attention and I really felt the personal touch.


10. What were the perks on your work placement?

  • International Travel

11. How appealing are future employment prospects within the organisation?

I have everything crossed that I could get a position if one became available.



12. Was there a good social scene amongst any fellow placement students/colleagues?

I was the only intern at the time but the social interation between myself and the staff was fantastic.


13. What was the cost of living and socialising in the area you worked in?

Living costs were covered by the placement, I needed very little money whilst out there for spending.


14. What was the Nightlife like in the area you worked?

When you hear a Hyena calling outside your window at night or you go on a night drive and find Chameleons in the trees, nightlife doesn't get any better!


15. Were there many opportunities to get involved in activities outside of work?

It was fantastic to have the opportunity to visit other sanctuaries in the area.