The application procedure for volunteers changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information consult the page “how to apply“.
The Kalahari Research Centre offers positions for research volunteers in three different research projects (for detailed information use links below):
What we offer volunteers
We offer volunteers the opportunity to gain valuable field or laboratory experience working with highly motivated people at our research centre in the Kalahari Desert. We provide our volunteers with extensive training in a range of transferable skills such as radio tracking, behavioural sampling techniques, animal handling and data management. There are also plenty of opportunities for volunteers to take on different tasks that range from managing the project’s food stocks to fixing equipment, assisting in experiments and habituating wild meerkat or squirrel groups. Such tasks are not mandatory but will be made available based on skills and interest.
Private accommodation, food (breakfast, lunch and diner), and (limited) internet access are provided free of charge to all volunteers. We also provide a small monthly allowance (€30) to cover incidental expenses and we will cover the costs of (land) travel within South Africa to and from the research station.
What we ask from our volunteers
Most of our volunteers have a degree in the biological sciences (e.g. behaviour, ecology or related fields). Field- or lab experience is preferred, but not a necessity, since we offer all of volunteers extensive training to carry out their day-to-day work. The nature of the meerkat and ground squirrel work in combination with the conditions require volunteers to be in good physical condition: days can be long and hot, and following the meerkats sometimes means hiking several miles with a backpack and climbing fences. We therefore ask anyone with a known history of knee- and/or back problems to let us know this when they apply.
Volunteers should be available for a period of at least six months, though we encourage them to commit to 12 months. They will be expected to work a five-and-a-half-day week and may take a holiday of two weeks during their time with us. All volunteers must have their own health insurance that covers the basic risks that the (field) work entails. New volunteers can travel to Upington by coach or car and we will arrange to pick them up from there. In some cases, it may also be possible to arrange transport from Johannesburg or Pretoria. To protect everyone working at the KRC during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are maintaining strict isolation and individuals leaving the KRC are required to quarantine themselves for two weeks on return.
Volunteers of any nationality are welcome to apply, but applicants should have a good command of English.
More detailed information about the projects at the KRC can be found here.
Most activities at the Kalahari Research Centre happen in and around a large farmhouse, which houses the kitchen and living area, as well as computers and most field equipment. Located around the farmhouse are several volunteer accommodation blocks and rondavels used by volunteers and/or other staff. There are usually 30 – 40 staff (managers, volunteers, research students) working at the KRC throughout the year. All volunteers have their own private room, but bathrooms and showers are shared. Dinner is provided by our cooks five days a week and usually includes both a meat and a vegetarian option. Volunteers take turns cooking during the weekends. While basic food for breakfast, lunch and dinner is provided, volunteers can order additional items to be picked during one of the regular town trips and pay for them themselves. The working language is English, but we host volunteers from a diverse range of countries and usually there will be 5+ nationalities present on site at any one time.
How to Apply
Click here to find information on how to apply.
For informal pre-application enquiries concerning questions not covered in our FAQ information, please contact us via email.
Meerkat Project: meerkat.volunteers (at) gmail.com
Mole-Rat Project: molerat.volunteer (at) gmail.com
Cape Ground Squirrel Project: cgsproject (at) hotmail.com