Leo Africa, Wildlife monitoring & Sustainable living
Leo Africa, Marakele National Park
Limpopo Eco Operations (LEO Africa), was established in 2005 with the aim to monitor re-introduced lions in a private reserve close to the Kruger National Park. Within the years, the project evolved to be a wildlife monitoring, conservation and sustainable living programme, with a highly committed, experience and dedicated rangers who will work on the field and at base with you on a daily basis. Since April 2016, LEO Africa operates in the spectacular Marataba Section of the Marakele National Park in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. It is the only volunteer project to offer this unique experience of working directly within a National Park. The park offers breathtaking views of the Waterberg Mountains, a great wildlife and flora diversity.
LEO Africa specifically monitors key species, such as lion, leopard, elephant, black and white rhino, buffalo, cheetah, spotted and brown hyena. Working in a National Park is an amazing opportunity to get to assist the team monitoring and collecting data on wildlife in their natural habitat and learn about these animals including their behaviours and social interactions.
All the data collected is inserted in a monthly report for the park management and ID kits are created for each monitored species, so that informed decision can be taken to improve the quality of life for wildlife and the environment.
Whilst being at LEO Africa, you will learn and directly contribute towards wildlife monitoring, conservation and sustainable living, in the hope that you will take home with you not only photos but also a new lifestyle to improve life quality on our planet for our present and future.
LEO Africa offers a free service to the National Park section where we operate and solely relies on the financial contribution coming from the volunteers to be able to conduct our work. Without volunteers, there won’t be a dedicated monitoring and conservation team within the park!
Our experienced field guides and rangers have years of field experience. The work we do links ecology with the practical aspects of running of a nature reserve, providing a rewarding and educational wildlife volunteer experience.
LEO Africa also focuses on green energy, recycling and education on the meaning of conservation and sustainability for present and future generations.
Volunteers are the centre of our work, helping us in the field as well as supporting the project financially, making our vital work possible. You will learn new skills and make amazing memories whilst living a truly African experience!
Our rustic-style house is large, bright and fully immersed in nature with a large garden. Volunteers stay in dorm rooms with shared bathrooms. Each bedroom has 4 beds and a bathroom. A double room with private bathroom is available on request for a small surcharge subject to availability. Please remember to bring your own towel and sleeping bag as we provide bed sheets, blankets and pillows but no duvet.
2 weeks $1025
3 weeks $1500
4 weeks $1975
Transfers to/from Johannesburg (OR TAMBO) airport are not included in the price and cost R1,500 one way per person on a Tuesday and R2,500 one way per person when traveling on a day other than a Tuesday.
Accommodation & Food. All activities within the reserve.All training. One T-shirt.
Applicants must be over 18 years old.
Start Dates & Duration
The programme starts every Tuesday. We have a minimum duration of 2 weeks, max 12 weeks.
Work Schedules & Volunteer Duties
Each day consists of two monitoring game drives. Morning drives leave at 5:30am in the summer and 6am in the winter, returning to base for lunch around 12pm.
Volunteers have time to rest during the hottest part of the day which is also time to insert the data or photos collected on drive that will be processed by the rangers.
Afternoon drives leave at 3:30pm in the summer and 3pm in the winter, returning to base for dinner around 8pm.
The two daily monitoring drives can be replaced with a "full day out" (7am – 5pm).
On Sundays there are no game drives but other activities maybe take place depending on the needs of the Park. Once a week we spend an afternoon in the nearest town for shopping and enjoy the evening at a local restaurant
All training is done on site and no previous experience in wildlife is needed.
Every day our LEO guides will take you out on two monitoring drives on board a 4x4 game viewer. We observe, write data and take identification photos of the key species, in particular regarding their behaviours, location, movements, food preferences, health, reproduction and interactions with each other in their natural habitat without disturbance.
While out in the field, our work also involves taking care of the Park’s eco-system through reserve management activities such as bush clearing, road restoration, alien plant removal, erosion control, tree wrapping, fence/rubbish removal, game capture and animal darting. Without a healthy eco-system, there won’t be wildlife!
Well camouflaged in the bush and placed in strategic points, camera traps are vital for our monitoring and anti-poaching efforts. Each month thousands of photos and videos are processed by LEO volunteers and staff, and are used to produce ID kits together with the data collected on drive.
Bush walks are a great way to experience the bush in more depth. Walking allows us to spot animal and suspicious tracks, discover new areas and dens, check existing or install new camera traps and enjoy nature..
Conducting sleep outs assist the anti-poaching teams in their role against poachers, we act as a deterrent, as extra eyes and ears in strategic parts of the Park. It is also a great chance to see nocturnal animals, admire the beautiful African sky and listen to the sounds of the bush.
Only at LEO Africa!!! At LEO, volunteers have the unique opportunity to fly over the national Park Section with the director of the project, patrolling vast areas from the air. It also offers stunning views and is a great way to spot animals
Diurnal and nocturnal thermal imaging drones are used as a monitoring and anti-poaching tool when needed.
Volunteers help with controlled bush fires when needed. This method is used in reserve management to remove moribund grasses, excess of parasites and encourage the growth of new grass more palatable for animals
Volunteers may have the opportunity to take part in the exciting experience of game capture. This may be done for various reasons including darting an individual for medical reasons or for sale, which contributes as an income to the Park as well as a way of controlling the excess of animal populations.