Contribution starting at $3,675
Exported from Streamline App (https://app.streamlineicons.com)
12 days (avg. $306 a day) Includes accommodations, food, and all related research costs
Wildlife & Ecosystems

Conserving Threatened Rhinos in South Africa

Location
Northwest Province, South Africa, Africa Map it
Lead Scientist
Activity Level
Moderate
Accommodations
Single Rooms possible
Couples Rooms possible
Wilderness Camp
Food
Chef-prepared meals
Special diets accommodated
A dehorned white rhino (C) Alex Kallend
A view of the volunteer accommodations from across the reserve (C) John Lecher
Earthwatch volunteers observe rhinos in the distance (C) Lynne MacTavish
Earthwatch volunteers help collect camera trap data (C) Melissa & Blake
A large white rhino (C) Alex Kallend
A view from the research vehicle down a dirt road (C) Ashley Junger
A volunteer analyzes an insect specimen (C) John Lechner
A dehorned white rhino (C) Alex Kallend
A view of the volunteer accommodations from across the reserve (C) John Lecher
Earthwatch volunteers observe rhinos in the distance (C) Lynne MacTavish
Earthwatch volunteers help collect camera trap data (C) Melissa & Blake
A large white rhino (C) Alex Kallend
A view from the research vehicle down a dirt road (C) Ashley Junger
A volunteer analyzes an insect specimen (C) John Lechner

Rhino populations are declining at an alarming rate. Help scientists to understand their behavior and habitat preferences and optimize approaches to help conserve and manage rhinos in South Africa.


Rhino populations are declining at an alarming rate. Help scientists to understand their behavior and habitat preferences and optimize approaches to help conserve and manage rhinos in South Africa. | EarthwatchOn the black markets in Southeast Asia, rhino horn is reported to be worth more than gold. As a result, widespread poaching has decimated rhino populations around the world, including in South Africa—home to three-quarters of the world’s rhino population. The situation is urgent: if poaching continues at its current rate, it is estimated that rhinos may become extinct within the next 20 years.

You’ll join scientists in a wildlife reserve in South Africa to create a robust anti-poaching plan to protect the reserve’s population of white rhinos. You’ll help collect data on rhino locations, behavior, and habitat use. This work will allow researchers to best understand where rhinos are most likely to be found within the reserve—information critical to effectively protecting these unique animals from poachers. Additionally, you’ll help reserve staff practice their responses to poachers in “simulated poacher incursions,” allowing them to test and compare methods of locating poachers within the reserve and find the fastest method to responding to poaching threats. These data will allow scientists to update the reserve’s current management approaches to reduce risks to rhino populations. Beginning in 2023, volunteers will also help to address questions such as: Are sound deterrents that emit high frequencies effective at keeping rhinos from entering areas of high poaching risk? How do rhinos respond to the warning calls of other bush animals? 

Observe rhino daily either from a game viewer or on foot while observing many other species of South African wildlife—study rhino behavior, record their GPS locations, and monitor their feeding habits. Through these activities, you will inform efforts to conserve and manage rhino populations in South Africa. 

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A Typical Itinerary

  • Day 1: Meet, travel to field site
  • Day 2: Orientation, training
  • Days 3–7: Vegetation surveys, rhino monitoring, simulated poacher incursions
  • Day 8:Recreational day excursion to a nearby National Park
  • Days 9–10: Vegetation surveys, rhino monitoring, simulated poacher incursions
  • Day 11: Research wrap-up, farewell gathering
  • Day 12: Departure

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HOW YOU WILL HELP

When you arrive, the researchers will conduct an orientation and brief you on the work you’ll be doing. Field work will begin on the second day, where you will be involved with:

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Earthwatch volunteers install a camera trap (C) Georgann Meadows
Rhino monitoring and behavior

Find and record locations of individual rhinos to assess their geographic distribution; observe and record their behavior.

Assess different methods of locating poachers within the reserve, including on-foot and drone-based surveys.
SIMULATED POACHER INCURSIONS

Assess different methods of locating poachers within the reserve, including on-foot and drone-based surveys.

Earthwatch volunteers take vegetation surveys (C) John Lechner
Vegetation surveys

When the animals move off foraging sites, record the vegetation in the area to assess habitat use.

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In the evenings, you’ll head back to the field station for dinner, an informal talk by the researchers, and time to relax.

Field conditions and research needs can lead to changes in the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

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FEEDBACK & QUESTIONS

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14 Reviews on this Expedition

If you have been on this expedition, others considering attending would love to hear about your experience.
Chantel Reynolds | October 22, 2022
This was my 7th Earthwatch expedition, and while every trip has been engaging and informative, this expedition had the most emotional impact. This isn't only a field site; this is home for these researchers. They live their work with a unique and visceral dedication. Volunteers return again and again to contribute to the mission of protecting the rhino. Don't misunderstand--the research is rigorously conducted and the importance and purpose clearly communicated. You are learning all the time! But the combination of a strong scientific base and then a deep devotion to the welfare of each individual rhino makes this project particularly special. I'm so glad to have experienced it and met such lovely people.
Deb Wills | September 5, 2022
My first experience with the rhinos was so inspiring, I immediately signed up for another expedition.  I could not wait to see these marvelous animals again. Assisting, even for a short period, in providing some safety to them is simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking. The dedicated team is wonderful and amazing.  The reserve is beautiful.  All the activities are meaningful. A transformative experience, for sure. 
David Woodland | September 3, 2022
My experience with the “Conserving Threatened Rhinos” in South Africa was inspirational beyond words.  Rhinos are amazing creatures and to work with them so closely in the wild is an unforgettable experience.  The staff on the project was truly outstanding and took excellent care of the Earthwatch team.  They explained everything in detail, were always available to answer questions, and gave excellent presentations, both in the classroom and in the field.  Importantly, our team felt that it made a really valuable contribution to the scientific aims of the project; the staff scientists were very grateful for our help.   Safety was a primary concern.  Incidentally, the food was exceptional!!! 

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