Student Internships

Why intern with ALERT?

An internship with ALERT will provide students with on-the-ground experience of working in wildlife conservation in Africa.  We offer interns opportunities to utilise their knowledge and skills to real-life conservation challenges, across a range of contexts extending from wildlife to community.  There is plenty of scope to learn new theories and skills to address conservation matters whilst working in the field.  Our responsible development approach to lion conservation means that we are multi-disciplinary in our work.  The fields of science, social science, education and the humanities, are all relevant in tackling conservation issues effectively, and our internship engages with elements of them all as you assist us in protecting the African lion and people’s relationship with this iconic predator.  We aim to offer groups of around 10 to 15 students a comprehensive experience, working as valued members of our conservation team and, in doing so, contributing to their studies, while enhancing their employability and networks within this competitive field.

What can students expect?

Long days!  The working day typically lasts around 12 hours, with breaks for breakfast and lunch.  Students are expected to work five days a week with weekends free to take part in on-site activities and to explore the local area.

ALERT has adopted a responsible development approach to protecting Africa’s vulnerable lion populations.  This incorporates wildlife conservation, habitat protection and restoration, and the empowerment of communities who live alongside lions and other predators.  Throughout their stay students will shadow and assist project staff in all aspects of this work, and in doing so obtain first-hand experience of working in lion conservation. 

What will students be doing?

To experience our responsible development approach, students will have the opportunity to learn and develop existing research skills.  Lion conservation is necessarily multi-disciplinary and involves the application of current conservation thinking and theory with practical application of concepts and techniques in the field.  Students will be involved in providing assistance in the following areas of holistic conservation and community development:

Lion Husbandry - All aspects of lion husbandry will be covered, including meat preparation and feeding of captive and formerly captive (semi-wild released) lions, behaviour enrichment for captive lions, lion health monitoring and enclosure cleaning and maintenance.

Research - Collecting field data, and applying fundamental research principles such as establishing reliability and validity of data, scientific question-asking of a body of data (hypothesis generation), data coding, preparing data for analysis, descriptive and inferential statistical analysis, and scientific report writing.  Lion research will include behavioural ecology including pride dynamics, the development of hunting skills, mane assessment, playback studies, territorial defence, and sociality (lions).  Research also includes assessment of the welfare of the lions.  Opportunities also exist for other wildlife species research such as entomological and vegetation surveys and mapping (using GIS).  Students will be given the chance to learn basic software analysis packages, such as QGIS, UCINET and SPSS/R.  Our work also involves the assessment of community attitudes to lions, predators and conservation.  Students will be given the opportunity to develop and use surveying, interviewing and questionnaire techniques, and assess the effectiveness of community programs developed as part of our responsible development approach to lion conservation.

Community Outreach - Our outreach programs support those communities affected by lion conservation and offer incentives and benefits to protecting lions.  As part of this mission, students will help our team with designing and delivering educational programs in local schools to provide teaching in English literacy and conservation education.  This includes training in how to assess and address poor literacy levels in rural communities.  We also deliver a basic life skills course to rural children, aged 3-15 years, through the provision of ‘Kids Club’.  Kids Club focuses on key transferable skills for use in the home, education and workplace.  The aim of this course is to empower rural children to improve their ability to participate fully in Zambian society and to have equal access to education and employment opportunities.  These courses also provide children with much needed respite from the harsh realities of living in deprived circumstances.  Students will help in the delivering of this course and assessment of its impact on the communities it serves.

Along with practical experience, students will benefit from talks covering topics such as:

  • Historical and current status of wild lion populations, in situ and ex situ lion conservation efforts including the ALERT ex situ reintroduction program
  • Language, history and culture of peoples in Zambia
  • Practical cultural orientation into rural life in Zambia
  • Bush habitat in the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park
  • From the textbook to the field: the practical application of conservation techniques

We offer a range of research opportunities and can accommodate the needs of most university courses.  Please let us know what specific skills and techniques you and your students would obtain most benefit from, and we can tailor your programme to meet those specific requirements.

You can download our Student Internships brochure here.

What are we looking for?

To be considered for this internship, students must be studying a relevant course in the sciences, social sciences, education, and/or humanities and clearly have an interest in animals/wildlife, communities and conservation.  Experience in your chosen field is useful as well, but not essential. 

On a personal level, initiative and a positive attitude are a must!  We are looking for students who are reliable and can do a good job.  You will need to be able to think on your feet and learn to expect the unexpected - and above all, be prepared to have a go at all tasks. 

While we are happy to accommodate accompanying academic staff members, this is not necessarily a pre-requisite of taking part in the Program.  It is possible for groups of sufficiently responsible students to join us without supervision at ALERT’s discretion.

Click on the link for more information on the location currently available:

Livingstone, Zambia


Program fees for arrivals before 31st December 2017 are GB£1030 / US$1800 per person.  This is based on a two week minimum stay for a group of 10 ten students with one free place for an accompanying academic.  Larger groups and longer stays can be arranged on request.  Upon confirmation of booking, a deposit of GB£300 / US$540 per person will be required, with the balance payable 120 days prior to travel.  ALERT will liaise directly with individual students to organise administration of all bookings and payments.

The 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.

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.


Initial applications should be made by a member of staff from the participating institution to We will require an approximate number of students and preferred dates/length of stay.  Once the booking has been confirmed, each student will be asked to complete an individual booking form and medical questionnaire.  The minimum age for this program is 18 years.    

Please ensure you have read our terms and conditions before making an applicationOur internships operate under a responsible tourism policy to ensure that the presence of student groups will have a positive effect on the environments and communities in which we work.

An experience too good to miss, but don’t take our word for it

Here’s what a recent group of students from Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Australia have to say about taking part in the Program at our Livingstone project in Zambia...

‘Dambwa research and the Kids Club were both amazing experiences to see how the project is progressing and making a difference to the lives of the community.  The talks we were given each captured a different aspect and helped me understand the project as a whole and the importance of each part of it.  It has had a huge positive influence on my career options as a vet.  I have gained more than I could have possibly imagined and cannot wait to come back!  It was a truly amazing experience with wonderful people and activities that sometimes pushed your physical abilities, but were very rewarding when you succeeded.’ Beth Deane

‘The overall stay was incredible.  The lion side of things was unbelievable, as well as all the cultural experiences and going to the schools with the beautiful children.  I have gained so much knowledge on African animals that I didn’t know before.  The staff are incredibly amazing and made it extra hard to leave!  I had such a wonderful time in every aspect and would love to come do it again.’ Florence Wood

‘This program is the best of its kind.  It gives people the opportunity to feel like they have made a positive impact on an overall worthwhile goal.  I have gained experience in the area of animal husbandry and am keen to finish my veterinary degree, so that I can sink my teeth into wildlife health on a global scale.’ Holly Godden

‘I am inspired and full of hope for the future of lions in Africa thanks to this program and the passionate people who are part of it.  I have personally gained so much insight, even more passion than I already had, and a lifetime of memories and experiences.  I cannot thank you all enough.  I wish you all the best with stage 3, and truly hope I can come back and be a part of it.  The work you all do here is so worthwhile, and something you should all be so proud of.’ Meghan Widdowson

‘It has been such a positive experience and it has been so valuable to be given the opportunity to see the life of the Zambian culture.  Living in Africa has been the best experience of my life so far and it has changed how I perceive work ethic, daily life, education and other things that I take for granted back home.  I looked forward to doing every activity, the handlers and staff made everything enjoyable.’ Kasey Sherwood

‘I have genuinely enjoyed this experience.  The handlers and staff were all so friendly and helpful and really helped with the enjoyment of the program.  It has felt like a home-away-from-home and I am sad to be leaving.  The activities are interesting and varied and the volunteer management team is great at adapting their plans to suit the needs of the interns.  This program is something that I would love to do again and I feel extremely lucky that I was able to take part in it.’ Alice Cord-Udy

‘I was unsure of how the program worked when I came to Africa, but after being involved with it and learning about the different aspects, I think it’s awesome that all of the staff are so passionate about conservation of the lions, and in the different areas of community involvement.  It is very clear that all of the lions are well cared for.’ Michelle Hand

‘The staff are incredible, the atmosphere is friendly, and the food is great.  I really appreciate the effort that has gone into looking after us, especially with us being a large group to organize.  I felt totally at home here and welcome.  I think I’ve gained an experience and memories that are going to be very hard to top.’ Phoebe Makepeace

‘I feel this program is unique in the approach to conservation and research and I feel very lucky and proud to have been a part of it.  The total hands-on experience I have gained is one I will carry with me for a lifetime and really hope I can come back again next year.  I have also been touched by the friendliness and generosity of the African people I have met.  I have learned so much more about conservation and the bigger picture of conservation and this now will be influencing me in future studies.’ Sherri Davis

‘I have a better understanding of the culture and the relationships and interaction between humans and wildlife here.  I think it’s great that the local community is involved and that we go and teach the children.  I loved interacting with the lions and especially liked watching them in their pride in stage 2 for Dambwa research.’ Shinay Greenwood

Glenys Noble, a staff member at CSU, accompanied the students on their trip and enjoyed the experience as much as they did:

‘This experience has been a real eye opener: I have a much greater understanding of the Big Picture of conservation in general and how it can be incorporated into responsible development, so conservation assists the human community as well as the animals and natural environment.  The program stretches far further than I realised and is as much about communities as the lions.  It is an exciting program, well thought out and looks at the long term, rather than short term fixes.  I can see now it is not ‘just’ about lions, but a sustainable Africa.’

Emma Dunston, a PhD student at CSU and previous volunteer with ALERT, returned to Livingstone on the Facilitated Research Program to conduct research for her doctorate:   

‘I have always had a desire and passion to have a career in behavioural science of African carnivores, and in particular the African lion.  As an Australian student, my previous experience has been limited to Australian zoos.  Although working with captive carnivores has provided me with the experiences and foundations required for conducting behavioural studies, I have always wanted to make a contribution to the conservation of the species in its homeland.  After years of research, I determined that ALERT was the best program where I could contribute positively to the species conservation and further develop my research techniques.  After conducting two weeks as a volunteer in 2011, I decided that I wanted to work with the program further, and decided to develop and conduct my PhD with ALERT.  This has led me to travel to Livingstone working closely with the research teams who have dedicated and passionate people.  My time with ALERT has provided me with invaluable experiences, contacts and have only encouraged me further to pursue a career in this field.  If you are passionate about African lion conservation and want to make a contribution, no matter how small, ALERT is the place to start.’



Facilitated Research

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