Environmental Conservation in Kenya – African Savannah Conservation
- Placement location: Kigio Wildlife Reserve, Rift Valley
- Role: Wildlife research
- Main Research Focus: Mircro-ecology of the Rothschild’s giraffe
- Local Environment: African Savannah
- Accommodation: Volunteer dormitories based at camp
- Length of placement: From one week
- Start dates: Flexible
As a volunteer on Project Abroad’s Conservation & Environment project in the Rift Valley in Kenya you will have the unique chance to live and work in the heart of a 3500 acre reserve surrounded by the wild animals that for which Kenya is renowned.
Kigio Wildlife Reserve is situated just two hours north of Nairobi between the towns of Naivasha and Nakuru. Formerly a cattle ranch, this reserve is now a sanctuary and breeding ground for an incredibly diverse range of wild animals. Particular emphasis and importance is focused on the protection of the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe. This beautiful reserve covers a wide range of habitats, from riverside woodlands to open grasslands, with shrub and acacia trees stretching as far as the eye can see.
Volunteers are involved in numerous projects on the reserve but our overall aim is to contribute to the conservation and preservation of Kenya’s biodiversity through scientific research. This research is shared with other conservation authorities with similar aims to ensure the survival of Africa’s wildlife for future generations. All research takes place on Kigio Reserve with the guidance of our skilled and experienced local staff.
Volunteering on the Conservation & Environment project in Kenya offers you the chance to get up close to some of the most fascinating animals found in Africa. While it is a perfect for anyone with a passion for nature and the great outdoors, you do not need previous experience to take part. You can be a student on a gap year or summer break, or just someone of any age interested in an opportunity to give back while experiencing a completely different way of life!
Your Role on the Conservation & Environment Project in Kenya
Volunteers on this project can take part in a wide variety of activities, such as:
- Mammal inventories
- Endangered species research
- Invasive plant removal
- Fence removal
- Construction of water holes
- Observation hide construction
- Road maintenance
- Soil erosion control
- Animal tracking
- Anti-poaching patrols
- Vegetation mapping
- Bird census
- Building and maintaining tree nurseries
- Habitat restoration
Work consists of a combination of observational research tasks and practical hands on work. Volunteers usually work five days a week. A typical working day will run from 8am until 12pm and again from 2pm until 5pm. However, depending on the activities volunteers may be required to start earlier or finish later or even work over the weekend.
The work is divided up among all of our volunteers using a weekly schedule. Trained local staff are on hand to supervise activities and provide support. You will also be able to take part in workshops designed to teach you about different aspects of the project and the environment you will come to call home.
The Goals of the Conservation & Environment Project in Kenya
The primary focus of this project is to aid in the conservation of Kenya’s native biodiversity. With Kigio being home to 35 Rothschild’s giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi), Projects Abroad has decided to make this project a priority as there are only 670 individuals of this sub species left in the wild. This unique project gives volunteers the opportunity to work with a sub species more endangered than the rhino.
To contribute to our overall aim, work is also focused on the reserve’s other wildlife such as cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer), plains zebra (Equus quagga), impala (Aepyceros melampus), hyena (Crocuta crocta), hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibious), and leopard (Panthera pardus), to name a few. These magnificent mammals along with 200 species of bird and 100 species of indigenous plants keep our staff and volunteers very busy in achieving our goals.
Kenya is renowned for being the ultimate safari destination and animals can be seen roaming wild along the roadsides. However, as the human population multiplies there is the continuous and increasing threat of poaching, pollution, and damage caused by residential and commercial development. Reserves such as Kigio create havens for wildlife and allow wilderness areas to flourish.
The reserve’s rich bio-diversity has been recognized internationally by Tusk Trust, Born Free Trust, and Lew Wildlife Conservancy. Although it is Projects Abroad who actively work on the ground in conserving this beautiful area, The Giraffe Research and Conservation Trust and Projects Abroad have become partners in our Rothschild’s giraffe program to maximize our conservation efforts.
With such a wide range of research and practical projects at Kigio, volunteers will learn a new range of skills. In addition to the practical skills learned through the day-to-day responsibilities of volunteering on a wildlife reserve, volunteers gain an increased awareness of the African bush, its animals, and their ecology.
As with all Projects Abroad international volunteer projects, we strive to involve the local communities in our programs. At Kigio we work side by side with local communities in our tree nurseries and awareness programs. Additionally, our conservation work in Kenya also involves raising awareness of conservation issues in local schools through various educational programs and workshops.
You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our Kenya Conservation Management Plan.
Accommodation and Food on the Conservation & Environment Project in Kenya
All volunteers live together at our base camp. There is one large communal building with two separate single-sex dormitories. There is an outside porch overlooking the reserve where volunteers can relax relax after a long day’s work while admiring the spectacular views and listening to the sounds of the African bush at night. The house has basic kitchen facilities and communal bathrooms.
In your spare time at the base camp you can play soccer, play cards, or relax under the shade of the nearby trees with a good book. Some volunteers simply like to watch the magnificent African sunset, or find a quiet spot overlooking the nearby watering hole.
Due to the wild nature of this reserve, volunteers are never to leave camp without a qualified member of staff. The group makes weekly trips to town so you get a chance to call home, help re-stock on supplies, and get a hold of anything else you need.
This project is available for less than a month if you don't have time to join us for a month or more. This project has been selected by our local colleagues as being suitable for shorter durations for both the host community and the volunteer. Although you will gain valuable cultural insight and work intensely within the local community please be aware that you may not be able to make the same impact as someone participating for a longer period.
If you are a high school student and first-time traveller you may want to consider our High School Special programs in Kenya.