African Savannah Conservation in Kenya
- Placement location: Soysambu Conservancy, Great Rift Valley
- Role: Wildlife research
- Requirements: None
- Main Research Focus: Micro-ecology of the Rothschild’s giraffe
- Local Environment: African Savannah
- Accommodation: Volunteer dormitories based at camp
- Length of placement: From 1 week
- Start dates: Flexible
Preserving and protecting Kenya’s incredible biodiversity and wildlife is the main goal of Projects Abroad’s African Savannah Conservation Project. As a volunteer, you will live and work on a 48,000 acre reserve in the Great Rift Valley, contributing to vital conservation efforts and research. The reserve is a breeding ground for a diverse range of wild animals and home to more than 450 bird species and over 50 species of mammal. More than 100 critically endangered Rothschild’s Giraffe (some 10% of the world population which remains in the wild today) live in the reserve.
The project is based at the Soysambu Conservancy, which is located three hours north of Nairobi. Here, we work to preserve local biodiversity through research and monitoring. Along with hundreds of bird species, you can expect to see buffalo, lions, zebra, waterbuck, impala, Thomson’s gazelle, eland, hyenas, leopards, and hippos.
Our main research focus is on the Rothschild’s Giraffe and we conduct research on these animals as part of a larger project with other reserves. This research is shared with other conservation authorities with similar aims to ensure the survival of Africa’s wildlife for future generations. Ultimately, these joint research efforts could determine the fate of this sub species. All research takes place at Soysambu under the guidance of our skilled and experienced local staff.
This project is suitable for anyone with a passion for nature, wildlife, and the great outdoors. You don’t need any previous experience to participate and can take part as part of a gap year, summer break, career break, or a volunteer vacation.
Your Role on the Conservation & Environment Project in Kenya
You can take part in a wide variety of activities, including:
- Endangered species research: Rothschild’s Giraffe and its micro-ecology
- Mammal, bird, and plant population studies using observation and tracking techniques
- Removal of invasive plans
- Maintaining natural water holes for animals
- Road maintenance
- Mammal inventories using motion detection camera traps
- Animal and plant identification
- Anti-poaching patrols
- Community work (introducing tree nurseries, for example)
Work at the conservancy consists of a combination of observational research tasks and practical hands on work. You usually work five days a week, typically from 8am to noon and then again from 2pm until 5pm. Depending on the activities, you 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 major focus of this project is to aid in the conservation of Kenya’s native biodiversity. With Soysambu being home to more than Rothschild’s giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi), we have decided to make this project a priority as there are only 670 individuals of this sub species left in the wild. By volunteering on this project, you will have an active role in the protection of a sub species that is 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 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 Soysambu create havens for wildlife and allow wilderness areas to flourish.
With such a wide range of research and practical projects at Soysambu, you 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, you gain an increased awareness of the African landscape, its animals, and their ecology.
As with all Projects Abroad international volunteer projects, we strive to involve the local communities in our programs. At Soysambu 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 on the Conservation & Environment Project
All volunteers live together at the conservancy in a ranch house (Congreve House), which has modified dormitory-style accommodation. Dormitories are separated according to gender and the house has an outside area for activities and a spacious living area for relaxing or socializing. You can choose to have your meals indoors or outdoors and relax after a long day’s work while admiring the spectacular views. Electricity is available in the evenings when the solar power is used.
Due to the wild nature of this reserve, you must never leave camp without a qualified member of staff. There are wild animals all around and your safety is paramount. 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.
The African Savannah Conservation Project in Kenya 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.