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Endangered Species Project

The Siyafunda Endangered Species Project will allow you to participate with on the ground, hands on monitoring of some of Africa’s endangered species:  Rhino,  African Wild-dogs, Cheetah and Southern Ground Hornbill. 

It is ideal if you want to truly experience the “wild” side of Africa.  Our camp is based in a Limpopo game reserve which is home to the 'Big 5'.  This means you will get to encounter, and live with, elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo while working with us.

During your stay, your days will be spent mostly on foot walking through the reserve, learning how to track the animals.  You will be approaching endangered species on foot and recording their behaviour, location and condition.  You will, quite literally, be walking in their footsteps!

The information collected is then used by the reserve management and anti-poaching teams, as well as national conservation efforts to help save these species.  You will also take part in vehicle based monitoring to see the amazing Big 5, as well as habitat work to help with the monitoring process. 

This is a unique experience for people who want to get more out of visiting a game reserve in South Africa.  Everyone who joins us on this exciting program will get to experience the African bush in its extremes, from elephants strolling through camp to the tropical heat or the surprisingly cold winter nights. 

If you have a love of nature and want to participate in helping to save Africa's endangered species, this is the project for you.  Come enjoy the simple life and let the bush seep into your soul!

Endangered Species

African Wild Dogs: At present the pack has moved off the reserve and is denning on a neigbouring farm. They are seen irregularly 

At the beginning of 2016 a pack of 4 wild dogs entered the reserve. We suspect they came from Kruger National Park. They have now had 9 puppies taking the pack up to 13 individuals. This is very exciting for the reserve. We are hopefully they will stay with in the Makalali Reserve where they will remain safe. More details to follow.

Rhino Monitoring 

With the ever present threat from poaching, close monitoring of these animals is crucial for the future of the species.  The rhinos are monitored to ascertain their movement around the reserve and interaction with each other.  This is done mostly on foot due to their secretive nature.  This also forms part of the anti-poaching measures in place, working closely with the reserve management and anti-poaching teams on the reserve to ensure 100% sighting and safeguarding of our rhino.   Our Siyafunda projects also work closely with The Rhino Protection Trust to raise awareness and funds to support our efforts to save these magnificent but vulnerable animals.

Cheetah Monitoring

As cheetah are one of Africa's most endangered large predators, the entire population is monitored on the reserve.  By tracking the cheetah on foot, we can observe their utilisation of the area, prey selection and reproductive behaviour.  By combining this with data collected on other predators we can track the effects on distribution patterns of the cheetah by the presence of lions, hyena and leopards.  With dedicated, long term monitoring we can be sure to effectively understand their lives and better protect them for future generations.

Ground Hornbills

With less than 1500 of these birds left in the wild, we are lucky to have a family of Southern ground hornbills on the reserve.  The majority of our monitoring takes place during their breeding season from late October to February.  The ground hornbills are very slow breeders , fledging only one chick every 9 years.  The female will lay two eggs, but days apart from each other, meaning only one chick usually survives.  We observe their nests regularly in order to determine the dates that eggs are laid.  This enables us to harvest the second chick around hatching time to be sent to a hand rearing facility to ensure its survival.  We also work with the Ground Hornbill Research and Conservation Project to gather any information about this rare species.


We closely monitor the locations of leopards to determine territory extent as well as creating and updating ID kits to monitor individuals and determine total population size.  As with all predators, we also monitor prey selection and reproductive behaviour to effectively assist the reserve management.

In 2014, Siyafunda teamed up with the Panthera Leopard Research Project, who are monitoring and determining the leopard population in the area.  This project is planned to continue for the next 10 years.  Working in conjunction with Makalali Research, you will assist with the setting and monitoring of camera traps during the key months of February and March.

Game Drives & Walks

Game drives are a great way of covering distance within the reserve in order to see the larger African wildlife, observing their behaviour, movements and habits along the way.  After dark, they also enable the possibility of sighting the nocturnal animals such as African civet, black-backed jackal, large spotted genet, porcupine and aardvark to name but a few.

Monitoring walks also allow you to walk, quite literally, in the footsteps of the animals you are tracking.  You will learn how to identify the tracks of the animals you are monitoring, as well as any others they may have been following, or following them!  By determining age and direction of the tracks you will be able to help determine territory and, with any luck, current location.



Habitat Conservation

Alien Vegetation Control: Under the guidance of Working for Water (WFW), volunteers will assist with identifying and monitoring stands of alien and invasive vegetation within the river and across the reserve. Volunteers will participate in the mechanical removal and chemical control of these species as well as the follow-up monitoring of problem areas. This is an important project as alien invasive plants have the ability to encroach on areas and prevent other indigenous plants from growing, as well as using up large amounts of moisture from the soil. This has a detrimental effect on your ecosystem and therefore requires constant monitoring and removal.

Habitat Rehabilitation: Volunteers will have the opportunity to assist in ongoing habitat rehabilitation initiatives in the reserve, including erosion control, the construction of rock gabions, brush-packing and re-seeding.

Reserve Management: We are lucky enough to be situated on a large reserve but this also means that it needs to be constantly managed. Volunteers will have the opportunity to take part in assisting with reserve duties such as road maintenance to prevent erosion problems, encroachment of vegetation over the roads and fence clearing when needed.