Volunteer Abroad with Elephants in Africa
Your commitment for elephants in Africa: Travel to Africa as a Natucate volunteer and contribute to meaningful conservation projects aiming to protect and research elephants
Volunteer with elephants in Africa with Natucate
Natucate's elephant conservation projects offer the chance to take an incredible travel adventure while helping to preserve these gentle giants. You will also gain in-depth knowledge of these remarkable animals and the natural environment that supports them. Additionally, you will learn about practical and sustainable wildlife conservation management.
Become a volunteer in Zambia and help conduct conservation work near Lusaka and in awe-inspiring Kafue National Park
With Natucate, you can travel to some of Africa’s most beautiful wilderness areas while engaging in meaningful elephant conservation. We offer volunteer opportunities with elephants in Africa in two of Southern Africa’s most pristine environments. You can choose to work with Namibia’s desert elephants, which tragically, are teetering on the brink of extinction.
Alternatively, you can travel to Zambia to work with wild elephants in pristine savanna lands rich in diverse flora and fauna. Both of these options allow volunteers the chance to experience Africa’s awe-inspiring natural beauty, untouched wilderness areas, and incredible wildlife.
Highlights of volunteering with elephants in Africa
What you need to know about volunteering with elephants in Africa
Elephants are among the most massive, magnificent, intelligent, and empathetic species on earth. They only occur naturally in Africa and Asia and are on the brink of extinction on both continents. Only an estimated wild 415,000 elephants still exist in Africa, down from 10 million in 1930. The remaining animals occur mainly in Southern Africa but also remote regions of West and East Africa.
Encountering elephants in the wild is a magical, awe-inspiring, and profoundly moving experience. People who are privileged enough to do so will witness their gentleness, intelligence, and strong connections.
Research has shown elephants to be highly social and sensitive animals. They take great lengths to protect and nurture their young, working as a unit to ensure their safety and wellbeing. They exhibit considerable empathy for one another, often offering sympathy and support to herd members experiencing illness or distress. Additionally, they often grieve over the deaths of their offspring or herd members and have been known to show significant compassion to other species, including humans.
Why should I volunteer to help elephants in Africa?
Sadly, despite having no natural predators, elephants face severe and escalating threats to their survival from human beings. These include poaching, loss of habitat, and problems caused by human-wildlife conflict. There are three elephant species in the world, two of which occur in Africa and the third in Asia.
The most formidable of these is the African elephant (Loxodonta africana), the largest living mammal on earth. The second species is the slightly smaller African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis), found exclusively in woodland areas. Finally, the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is found in grassy and forested regions in South and Southeast Asia.
All three species are listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, meaning they are officially classified as critically endangered. Elephants take many years to reach sexual maturity, and many are dying before they have the chance to reproduce. As a result, elephant numbers are plummeting globally, and conservation efforts have never been more critical for their survival than ever before.
How can I volunteer to help elephants in Africa?
You can support elephant protection in Africa by joining one of our Southern African elephant volunteering projects. During your time spent in the wilderness, you will experience exceptional scenery, star-studded night skies, and unique flora and fauna. Additionally, you will be able to observe African elephants up close in their natural habitat while contributing to their conservation. Volunteering with elephants in Africa is a life-changing sabbatical or gap year experience. Through these unforgettable travel adventures, you can help preserve some of the most majestic animals on the planet.
How can I volunteer meaningfully with elephants in Africa?
There are certain essential factors to considering how to do meaningful elephant volunteer work. The most important is whether or not you will genuinely be helping these wild animals and the natural habitats that sustain them. Many organisations offer opportunities to work with elephants in Africa; however, not all of these are ethically operated.
Natucate works with committed conservation organisations that focus on preserving elephants and their natural habitats for the long term. We support the “do no harm” approach to ensure we do not disrupt nature’s equilibrium or the animals we strive to protect.
For this reason, we do not support elephant projects that encourage petting, riding, or any other form of unnecessary hands-on human-wildlife interaction. On our Volunteer with Elephants in Africa adventures, direct contact with wildlife is only permitted in extreme circumstances, such as if an animal needs to be released from a trap or receive urgent medical attention or other essential care.
Where can I work with elephants in Africa?
Natucate’s African elephant conservation projects operate in Namibia and Zambia. Our elephant conservation projects offer the chance to take an incredible travel adventure while helping to preserve these gentle giants. You will also gain in-depth knowledge of these remarkable animals and the natural environment that supports them. Additionally, you will learn about practical and sustainable wildlife conservation management.
Volunteering with elephants in Namibia
In Namibia, you will work with one of the most endangered African elephant populations on the planet, the Damaraland Desert Elephants. According to a 2016 national census, only between 100 and 600 of these uniquely desert-adapted elephants remain. They survive in the harsh but exquisite environment of the Namib Desert’s Skeleton Coast, where rippled sands, rust-coloured dunes, and sparkling salt flats eventually lead to the stormy Atlantic coast.
These phenomenal animals have adapted artfully to these punishing conditions and appear to know where to dig for water instinctively, even in unfamiliar regions. In the true spirit of compassion, desert elephants in the neighbouring Kunene region have even been known to guide non-desert-adapted elephants to these life-giving sources when they occasionally wander over the mountains from Etosha National Park.
On this unforgettable conservation adventure, you will witness the Damaraland Desert Elephants at close range amidst the pink-gold dunes and vast open spaces of this remote Namibian wilderness. You will assist in minimising this conflict by helping to build protective walls around local homes and in creating new water sources for elephants in areas isolated from villages.
Desert elephants have an uncanny ability to locate water sources in even the most seemingly arid areas of the Namib Desert. However, they are also attracted to easily available water sources, such as boreholes, irrigation sources, or leaking drain pipes. Consequently, they are drawn to local villages, resulting in human-wildlife encounters that can have disastrous consequences on both sides.
Comprehensive elephant research is another important element of your work as a volunteer: In order to be able to observe animal populations and their behaviour, you take part in extended game drives, tracking the elephants across Damaraland and recording relevant data – this way you can experience the gentle giants as well as the incomparable nature from up close.
Volunteering with elephants in Zambia
Alternatively, Natucate offers an elephant project in Zambia at an elephant orphanage near Lusaka and in Kafue National Park. For the first few days, you will spend your time at the sanctuary, which is committed to 24-7 care of orphaned elephants. Afterwards, you will assist the release process of orphans ready to return to Zambia’s breathtaking Kafue National Park.
In this incomparably beautiful corner of Africa, you will enjoy glowing red sunsets, dazzling night skies, and spectacular scenery. You will see the region’s majestic elephants and a diversity of other animals in their natural, untamed habitat. Like their desert-adapted counterparts, Zambian elephants face increasing threats to their survival from poachers and human-wildlife conflict.
Ethical elephant conservation with Natucate
Volunteering with African elephants is an unforgettable way to experience these beautiful, intelligent and empathetic animals in the wild while helping to protect them.
Natucate exclusively supports the most ethical elephant volunteering initiatives in Africa, with an eye to “doing no harm”. Consequently, we do not offer sabbatical or gap year options that permit direct contact with animals, such as riding or petting elephants. Our reason: We aim to retain the delicate balance of human-wildlife interaction and interfere with nature as little as possible.
Through the incredible programmes we support, you can spend time in the untamed wilderness while helping to protect these critically endangered gentle giants and other African animals. At the same time, you can go on a digital detox, disconnect from stress, and reconnect with nature and yourself.