Volunteer Testimonials

“Working for AERU at Knysna Elephant Park has exceeded all my expectations. I was already aware of the amount of dedicated research the team do here, and quickly began to understand my individual role within it. Everything else that came along after that was an extraordinary bonus. Getting up so close and personal with all the elephants amazed me, I was content simply watching them from afar, but to see them every day and begin to recognise not just their physical features, but emotional triumphs and personality traits was something I was not expecting. They are truly magical to watch, and I feel so humbled to have been welcomed into their secret lives.”

~ Kirsten Blackburn, 2016

I had not expected that these big creatures could have such distinctive personalities. The matriarch, the leader who is big, steady, and teacher to the younger ones.
The experience here is very unique, and the first captive Elephant project I have done, and it’s awesome. The love and care for these Elephants from all staff is amazing. The bond the Guides have with the Elephants is apparent to see, and something I will never forget.
The people here and the place feels like a second home for me now, I am just happy that I had the chance to make so many new friends from all over the world, human and animals.
The staff and supervisors were warm and friendly and made us feel comfortable and appreciated from the very beginning. As time went on I realised how knowledgeable and fun they were as well.
Volunteering with AERU has been a life changing experience that has taught me a lot about myself and given me the opportunity to do things I’d never have done before...
One of the best moments here were the Christmas Party for the elephants! We had made for all elephants a cake and on the next day all of us had the pleasure to feed the cakes to the elephants.
I hold a warning for future volunteers: Be prepared to get dirty, it’s not always an easy job but it’s incredibly rewarding and if you let the experience be all that it can be, it will change your life.
But it was not only the ellies I liked here. I got along very well with the other Volunteers, we made trips and went out in the evenings, played cards, cooked together and had a lot of fun. Also everybody from AERU was very nice, always helpful and I enjoyed things like the Braai and Pancake night together with some ...
When I was in primary school I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I replied “I want to be an elephant, so I can be Ellie the elephant”. This experience has allowed me to get as close to my childhood dream as humanly possible.
Not only the Elephants were great, but also the other people I met during my time here. So thanks to the other Volunteers from all over the world, which who I went Ziplining in Tsitsikama, Surfing at the Beach, Clubbing in Spotlight (which is definitely better than Flashback!), on a horseback Safari, to Monkeyland, to Jukani, to Knysna… I ...
I volunteered at Knysna Elephant Park in 2013 for 6 weeks and my husband for 2 weeks. And even before we left, we knew that we really wanted to come back. Because spending quality time with these beautiful giants, being so close to them, observing them and helping the AERU team with their research is just perfect, I really cannot ...
Words are hardly enough to describe what has been the best experience of my life so far. Discovering South Africa and finally meeting my favourite animal was mind-blowing. It makes you feel small and humble towards those amazing creatures. I will always remember the two herds. Shungu is adorable, impatient, so cheeky and seems to love playing the fool especially ...
Whilst working as part of the AERU team I have taken part in lots of activities, such as; cleaning up the Orchard and the Camp, making Enrichments for the ellie’s, getting creative with Dung Paper and Stuffed Ellie’s and doing the ‘Keisha Project’. However my favourite parts by far were field activities. Herd Activity, Nearest Neighbour and Activity on a ...
The aeru team have been outstanding from start to finish and they really do make you feel part of the family. Without people like them being able to volunteer would be impossible. The guides that work alongside these elephants everyday are incredible, they put so much work and effort into the job they do and they love these elephants as ...
My time as an AERU volunteer has been insightful to say the least, who would have thought I could have fallen in love with so many things in such a short space of time! I have never been a morning person and yet here I get up with little difficulty. Catching a tractor into a field to monitor and walk ...
There is so much compassion and understanding between the heard and their guides, and yet so much we just don’t know when it comes to their inner thoughts and mysterious methods of communication. I loved to watch the guides with the elephants, to see how they interacted and the immense level of respect and love they have for one another...