About The Volunteer Program

Working with elephants is a humbling and awe-inspiring experience. As a volunteer you will contribute to all aspects of elephant research, education, husbandry and conservation. We ask all our volunteers to be enthusiastic, dedicated, willing, able and keen to get involved with anything and have a genuine love of wildlife.

The participation of dedicated and hard-working volunteers is integral to AERU’s success and their contribution is invaluable – we could not do the research we do without them! AERU welcomes volunteers from all over the world. There are no prior qualifications to volunteer other than a love of animals and a desire to help.

Walking With Giants Programme

We currently offer 2 different volunteer programmes. Our main programme, Walking with Giants, requires volunteers to stay at least 3 weeks, as there is a large amount of training and familiarisation that goes into teaching volunteers the techniques needed to observe and study the elephants for research and welfare purposes. Through this programme, our volunteers are directly involved in elephant research and aid in providing information that relates directly to the welfare and management of captive elephants in South Africa. There is no maximum length of stay with the Walking with Giants programme.

Everything Elephant Programme

Our newest and shorter 1 week programme, Everything Elephant, was created to provide an experience for volunteers, who would love to dedicate their time and energy to our elephant family, but simply do not have the time to take 3 weeks away from their jobs and responsibilities. Although this programme focuses less on research and welfare; and more on everything you ever need to know about looking after elephants, it still offers shorter-term volunteers the same insight into elephants as iconic African animals; and as a sentient species in vital need of protection and conservation.

Please Note: It is important to know that the Knysna Elephant Park is open to the public for feeding interactions and elephant walks (sunrise and sunset). Volunteers are representing the research unit in front of the public so must be respectful of tourists and Knysna Elephant Park staff.

One of the most important contributions that volunteers help us with is monitoring these interactions through research, and consequently improving elephant welfare and how to maintain a positive and responsible balance with the ongoing tourism activities.