Research in the Community

A crucial element of our approach is working alongside local communities directly and indirectly affected by our lion conservation efforts.  To that end, we are involved in a wide range of activities that aim to benefit communities and lions.  As an organisation, ALERT undertakes research on these projects to ensure they have the desired positive impact for communities, for conservation, and for their future growth.  Research interns work closely alongside our community and research staff to implement and assess these projects, and develop new initiatives.  Depending on your expertise, skills, and ‘can do’ attitude, you could contribute to all aspects of this work.

This position will give you the opportunity to apply and enhance your knowledge in a new environment.  You will also obtain new skills along the way, as you help us to address the challenges faced by local communities in a conservation context.

What can I expect?

Long days!!  The working day typically lasts around 12 hours, with breaks for breakfast and lunch.  Of course, the perks are obvious!  You're in a beautiful bush environment, your life is about conservation and furthering the program - and there's no better cure for a hard day than to catch up with the lions and know you're actually working for them and their future.

Research in the Community brings with it some challenges.  Resources are scarce and there can be language and cultural barriers to hurdle.  We work in schools, healthcare clinics, orphanages, drop-in centres, and in local villages.  Be prepared to be dusty and hot (depending on the time of year).  Here in Africa we have a saying:  “Make a plan”.  When the resources you think you need are simply not available out here, you’ll be helping us to ‘make a plan’ to make a project work for the community.  Thinking on your feet is important here.   In return, you’ll receive a real sense of pride and achievement knowing you’ve made a positive contribution to someone’s life and conservation as a whole.

Projects will vary from site to site.  You might be developing an assessment of English literacy in schoolchildren, helping us to implement and monitor a successful conservation education programme to children and/or adults who live in human-wildlife conflict hotspots, teaching science or English and maths in a local school with minimal resources, helping us to change community attitudes and behaviours towards deforestation, engaged in a strategy to mitigate human-wildlife conflict, offering healthcare education and assistance, or perhaps you have a research proposal you’d like to suggest to us?  We are open to many research possibilities, so please contact us to discuss any ideas you have which utilise your skills and expertise, and which are in line with ALERT’s overall program and aims. 

Whatever you chose to focus on, life as a researcher is anything but glamorous!  However, the sense of satisfaction from helping to make a difference to someone’s life is very high.

What will I be doing?

Throughout their stay, Research Interns will be supported by the projects’ community and research staff in their day-to-day activities. 

The specifics of what you will do depend on what research you wish to contribute to.  Below are some examples:

  • Designing and implementing a conservation education syllabus for school-children and adults that is empirically shown to foster pro-conservation attitudes and behaviours
  • Delivering English reading age assessments to school-children and trialling culturally-appropriate literacy learning aids to see if reading age and comprehension improves
  • Designing and implementing a survey of local attitudes towards deforestation
  • Planning practical interventions to stimulate sustainable use of natural resources and reduce poaching (e.g. illegal charcoal production, snaring, etc)
  • Testing deterrent systems intended to mitigate conflict between local people and wild lions/elephants
  • Designing and delivering programmes that improve numeracy skills
  • Assessment of the conditions under which human contact with wildlife may foster positive attitudes and behaviours towards wildlife conservation, and increase knowledge
  • Developing and expanding the outreach capacity and impact of our existing community programmes

NOTE: If you are looking to use data collected during your stay at our project for a university course or thesis, please refer to our Facilitated Research Program instead.

You can download our Research in the Community internship brochure here.

What are we looking for?

When choosing a Research in the Community intern, we are ideally looking for a post-graduate, although we are able to accept sufficiently motivated current students in selected project locations.  You must clearly have an interest in local communities, animals/wildlife and their conservation.  Prior research experience is preferable.

On a personal level, you need to be extremely focussed and dedicated as the research work is often done in challenging environments.  Compassion coupled with a clear understanding of scientific principles is also needed. 

Click on these links for more information on the locations currently available:

Livingstone, Zambia
Gweru (Antelope Park), Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

An experience too good to miss, but don’t take our word for it.  Here’s what some of our previous interns have to say about taking part in the Program...


Program fees for arrivals between 1st January and 31st December 2018 are GB£ 1,795 / US$ 3,310 per four weeks with a minimum stay of eight weeks. 

Your fee includes collection from the nearest airport to the project site, shared accommodation, three meals per day and memories to last a lifetime!.  Invoice amount is charged on a per day basis.

The cost of flights, visas and permits, travel insurance, optional trips and activities are not included in this price.

If you wish to intern with ALERT, you will need to obtain a Police Check.  As an intern, you may be working closely with children or vulnerable adults to some extent during your stay; therefore, it is our responsibility to ensure that these people are adequately safeguarded.  For applicants from the UK, we will arrange the check for you at a cost of £20, which will be added to your invoice and payable along with your deposit.  For applicants from all other countries, please contact your local police department for advice on how to go about arranging your check.  All participants on all of our programs are required to undertake a police check before their placement commences.

If the only thing stopping you from realising your dream of interning in Africa is the financial cost involved, why not join 1000s of other travellers around the world who fundraise to pay for their trip.  Volunteer Forever is an online fundraising resource that allows you to appeal for donations towards your costs while keeping family, friends and other potential donors up-to-date with your progress.  We also encourage you to download our fundraising guide here with lots of helpful ideas on how you can make your appeal effective.


To assess your suitability for this program, please read the What Are We Looking For? section of your chosen internship before submitting your application.  The minimum age for this program is 21 years.

Your application should be sent to and accompanied by:

  • A cover letter detailing your motivation for applying and the skills and experience you hope to bring to bear whilst with us
  • A copy of your curriculum vitae
  • A letter of reference from an appropriate academic or business source that confirms your experience
  • First choice of project location

Your application will be reviewed within one week of receipt and additional references may be requested.  Only candidates with skills appropriate to their chosen internship will be considered.  Successful candidates will be offered a placement at a location most appropriate for their skills and experience to ensure that both the intern and the project gain the maximum from the program.  Please note that you may be onsite at the same time as other Research in the Community interns.  We regret that not all applications will be accepted and no appeals will be considered.

You may consider yourself ineligible for this program but still want to become involved in the work that we do.  Our volunteer programs give a wide range of opportunities, whatever your background. Click here for more details.
Please ensure you have read our terms and conditions before making your applicationOur internships operate under a responsible tourism policy to ensure your presence will have a positive effect on the environments and communities in which we work.




Facilitated Research

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