Volunteer

We are looking for people who care

The Park welcomes volunteers from all over the world. Although many of our volunteers are involved in conservation management or animal research, there are no prior qualifications to volunteer other than a love of animals and a desire to help.

Working with elephants is a humbling and awe-inspiring experience. As a volunteer you will contribute to ‘everything elephant’:

  • Help us look after our elephants – Preparing their food, helping to feed them, etc.
  • General maintenance – mucking out of elephant pens, general cleaning, painting, etc.
  • Marketing, advertising, fund-raising
  • Environmental education initiatives and activities
  • Helping to prepare and develop AERU merchandise for fund-raising projects – including getting to make your very own dung paper, using dung from our very own elephants!

In conjunction with these activities, the primary role of volunteers at the Park is to assist Dr. Debbie Young (Director of the African Elephant Research Unit – AERU) collect research data from the elephants at KEP and other facilities. These include the following:

  • Monitoring of behaviour - Following and observing elephants in the field, recording behaviours such as grazing, drinking, playing, dusting and walking.
  • Recording social interactions between elephants - how they relate to, and communicate with, each other using their trunks and bodies
  • Night-time observations of elephant behaviour - what is a good night's sleep for an elephant?
  • Observing and recording interactions between elephants and tourists
  • Botanical surveys of the park - relating plant diversity to grazing patterns and elephant distribution
  • Studies of feeding behaviour and plants eaten by the elephants
  • Making enrichments for the elephants
  • Collection of dung, urine and other samples for physiological analysis
  • Data input and analysis
  • Compilation of educational presentations

In this way, our volunteers are directly involved in elephant research and aid in providing information that relates directly to the welfare and management of captive elephants not only at KEP, but throughout South Africa. The data collected by volunteers not only contribute to management of the Park, but also to ongoing and future research projects being conducted by both local and international universities.

The participation of dedicated and hard-working volunteers is integral to AERU’s success and their contribution is both valued and appreciated. We ask all our volunteers to be enthusiastic, dedicated, willing, able and keen to get involved with anything and have a genuine love of wildlife. Many of these projects involve long hours of data collecting in the field and the project is not for the faint-hearted. However, the rewards are many – especially when the elephants begin to recognise you and trust you – you become part of the herd!

We look forward to welcoming you to the team! For more information, please contact us on volunteer@knysnaelephantpark.co.za

VISIT THE AERU WEBSITE