African Elephants

Volunteer with African Elephants

Volunteer with Elephants in Africa and discover a continent with all its fascinating species and landscapes and contribute to their protection at the same time. Like the Asian elephants, their African relatives are illegally poached because of their tusks and the populations in South Africa, Kenya, and many other African countries are shrinking at an alarming rate. Volunteer at an elephant sanctuary or orphanage to care for rescued elephants. Would you like to volunteer with the grey giant elephants in the African wildness? Join a research project to track and monitor elephant herds in the plains of Kenya, Zimbabwe or Tanzania. Volunteer abroad for wildlife conservation and help to save the elephant in Africa!

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Volunteer Projects and Internships with African Elephants

Elephants have always been admired by humans for their sheer size and most of us would love to see one of the gentle giants in their natural habitat one day. Believe it or not, with us you have the possibility to get very close to African elephants, the largest land mammals on earth. Being a volunteer in Africa offers you the experience of your lifetime. There are three species of the African elephant, namely the African bush elephant. the African desert elephant and the smaller African forest elephant. The biggest can reach up to 7.5 meters long and 3 meters high at the shoulder. In comparison to their Asian cousins, the African elephants have two opposing extensions at the end of their trunks. Living all over Africa the elephants are most often seen in herds, consisting of females and their calves. The male elephants are usually alone or in smaller herds with other bulls. Sadly, the African elephant is in constant danger due to habitat loss, fragmentation, and illegal wildlife trade and therefore relies on the helping hands of volunteers.

African Elephant Conservation Status in 2021

Latest updates clarify that when talking about the Conservation of the African Elephant you have to differ between the African Forest Elephant and the African Savanna Elephant. Whereas the African Savanna Elephant has now been listed as endangered, the IUCN Red List notes that the population of the African Forest Elephant is even declining at a higher pace, resulting in their status being updated as Critically Endangered. Unfortunately these amazing creatures are under constant threat and their conservation has suffered significant losses throughout the last century. Due to different threats, it is estimated that the population of the African elephant was reduced to up to 80%. Today, there are about 415.000 African elephants left in the wild. There are multiple factors responsible for the decline of the African elephants:

  • poaching and illegal ivory trading
  • habitat loss
  • general human-wildlife conflict

Why Are African Elephants Endangered?

There are several threats to the survival of African elephants. Let’s take a look at the main factors:

Wildlife Trade

Sadly, the biggest threat to the African elephants still to this day is illegal wildlife trade. Even though a global ban on international ivory sale was enacted in 1989, thousands of elephants are still killed every year for their ivory that is then sold on illegal markets. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), 2011 was the year with the most confiscated illegal ivory since global records began in 1989. The remote elephant habitat and the lack of resources to stop illegal poaching complicate the governments’ fights against this problem. Therefore, the help of international organizations and volunteers is much needed in order to protect African elephants.

Habitat Loss

Another big threat for the African elephant is habitat loss and fragmentation. Resulting from expanding human populations and the need for land for agricultural reasons, the elephant’s habitat was reduced from three million square miles in 1979 to little over one million square miles in 2007. Additional reasons for the habitat loss are:

  • commercial logging
  • the emergence of plantations for biofuels and other industries such as mining
  • civil conflicts and the displacement of people


There is a growing conflict between African elephants and humans. As the elephant’s habitat and migration corridors border on farming land, damages to crops and villages are the results. This often leads to conflicts, a conflict that the elephants lose because people shoot the animals in order to protect their land and villages.

You can see that the African elephant is in great need of protection through organizations and their volunteers. There is a lot that needs to be done in order to protect these animals and their shrinking habitat. Combining your travel experiences with volunteering will make you part of the improvement of the African elephant’s lives and gives you the chance of achieving something amazing. If this sounds like something that you want to be part of, keep on reading. In the following, you will get more detailed information on everything you need to know to become an elephant conservation volunteer.

Best Places to Volunteer with African Elephants

Before you start packing your back for your travel to Africa, there is one essential decision that needs to be made. And that is, of course, the choice of the location. As the world’s second-largest continent, there are many different countries in Africa where you can spend your time volunteering:

Choosing the perfect place for you surely is not easy and relies on a few factors. At first, you need to think about what you expect from the country you are staying in. Do you want to stay close to the sea? What climate do you prefer and do you want to volunteer in a more remote or touristic area?

South Africa, Malawi, and Zimbabwe

The summer in South Africa is rather hot and dry, whereas Malawi has a rather long rainy season and is a country with an average temperature of about 20 degree Celsius. Volunteering with Elephants in South Africa also offers you the possibility to be close to big cities like

Botswana and Namibia

Right next to South Africa, you can find the beautiful and less traveled country of Botswana. Becoming a volunteer in this part of Africa means that you will get to know both cultural tradition and urbanity. Namibia, on the other hand, has one of the oldest deserts in the world. Furthermore, the country has rich coastal and marine resources that are mainly unexplored.

Tanzania and Kenya

Do you like mountains? Then your place to be is Tanzania where the Kilimanjaro is located. Lastly, you also have the possibility to stay in Kenya that is not only the biggest but also the most advanced economy in east- and central Africa and a popular travel destination.

How Can I Help Save the African Elephant?

There is a variety of different projects that rely on your helping hands in order to protect the African elephants. Depending on what you are looking for during your time volunteering.

There is a variety of different places where you can volunteer at, such as elephant sanctuaries or in a national park and wildlife reserves, where you will also get into contact with other animals such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras and many more.

What Will I Do During My African Elephant Volunteer Program?

During your volunteer time abroad your help will be needed in various fields, of course depending on the project you are going to choose. Some of these tasks require you to work closely with the endangered animals but there can also be days where your help is for example needed in the office or in the field of community work or sustainable tourism. In order for you to get an idea of what your daily do’s can be, please take a look at the following list:

  • cleaning elephant’s enclosures
  • feeding the elephants
  • fence patrol
  • bush clearing and plant control
  • assisting with tours for visitors

Other projects focus more on research and the collection of important data on the animals living in the wild. This work is also of great need as it contributes to future projects and the general monitoring of the elephant’s development. Here your work can include the following:

  • observation and research of the animals (can also include lions, leopards, hyenas, and cheetahs)
  • tracking of the elephant herds
  • monitoring the social dynamics of the elephants
  • monitoring the spatial movements
  • collection and analysis of data
  • creation of reports

5 Benefits of Volunteering with African Elephants

A New Experience

As you have seen in the overview, there is a lot that needs to be done in the field of elephant conservation in Africa. Being part of a volunteering project will probably be one of the most adventurous and exciting experiences of your life.

Broaden Your Horizons

You will not only be part of something meaningful but you will also grow on a personal level. Getting out of your comfort zone will give you the confidence to take on other adventures in the future.

Meet New People

Furthermore, you will be part of a whole group of people from all over the world that came to Africa for the same reason: to help in the field of African elephant conservation and to improve the circumstances of the elephants.

Boost Your Resume

Volunteer experience looks very good on your resume because it’s a great way to differentiate yourself from others. Future employers love people who take initiative and responsibility!


Volunteering and traveling have proven to increase people’s happiness and be beneficial for people’s health. Contributing to a greater cause is a big happiness inducer because it gives people a sense of purpose and connection. Travel, on the other hand, activated a different part of the brain which is very beneficial!