Wildlife Conservation Research

A critical part of ALERT's work is the research we undertake at all our project sites. Interns work closely with our research team on the collection and analysis of data.  Participants are also actively involved in the creation of new studies, monitoring existing ones, and creating reports that reflect the progress of each research program. 

What can I expect?

Long days!!  The working day typically lasts around 12 hours, with breaks for breakfast and lunch. 

One focus of the Wildlife Conservation Research internship is collecting data on the lions in the release phase of the African Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Program.  Projects vary from site to site, but you may also be involved in research in other areas of the ALERT programme; such as large predator studies, biodiversity studies, human-wildlife conflict mitigation and behavioural research on our rehabilitation phase cubs.  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 programme and aims. 

Whatever you choose to research with us, it’s not glamorous!  Much of your day may be spent in cramped conditions within a research vehicle, but when one of the release lions walks passed, you will be captivated – just make sure you remember to take the necessary notes at the same time!

What will I be doing?

Throughout their stay, Interns will shadow and assist the projects’ Research Technicians in all aspects of their work.  This could include: 

Behavioural Observation - The lions in the release phase of ALERT’s African Lion Rehabilitation and Release into the Wild Program are studied to collect data on group dynamics and social interactions, territorial behaviours and hunting skills.  As the program’s ultimate goal is that offspring of released lions be put into the wild, the important question is, are these lions exhibiting behaviour comparable with wild lions?  You will be trained on collecting data that helps us to address this question as part of our ex-situ reintroduction program.

Play Behaviour - Much of the practice needed for the development of successful hunting skills comes from the play in which younger cubs constantly engage; ankle-tapping, stalking, chasing and fighting.  Playing is also a social activity that helps to strengthen bonds between pride members.  By observing our stage one lions engaging in various forms of play - social, object, locomotory and predatory - we can establish if these animals are behaving in a similar way to those growing up in the wild.

Hyena Monitoring - This study, to monitor spotted hyena populations, is the first of its kind to be conducted in this location.  Working with our field biologist, you will learn more about this fascinating and ecologically significant species. In-the-field, research will include telemetry work in an effort to locate hyenas, visiting known locations to learn more about habitat usage, occupancy surveys to assess potential interactions between hyenas and other predators, and scat analysis to study diet. To date, two hyenas have been fitted with GPS collars, allowing their movements to be tracked online. Data analysis, using GIS software, is providing exciting insights into the different range sizes of these hyenas.

Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation - Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) issues are widespread across Africa.  With a lack of prey availability, lions roam into villages at night to attack livestock.  Routinely destroyed in retaliation, the species is on the losing side of an intensifying conflict with people.  To deter lions from approaching livestock bomas, this study uses flashing lighting systems combined with camera traps to monitor their effectiveness. The next stage of this project is to attempt to reduce attacks occurring during the day on livestock in open rangeland.  To do so, we first need to establish where and when these attacks are taking place and the factors that make an attack more likely. 

Predator Surveys - In order to inform conservation management plans for predator species, surveys to determine distribution and behaviour are carried out.  Often this will be through the location and identification of tracts, signs and scats; an extensively used method in ecology and particularly effective for areas of low animal densities.  Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) issues are widespread across Africa, so you may also be involved in data collection of on-going mitigation methods.

Biodiversity Studies - To maintain a healthy ecosystem, the diversity of wildlife within Africa’s national parks needs to be monitored.  Data is collected to help calculate species density and abundance, so that sound conservation management plans can be developed and implemented to safeguard biodiversity loss.

Of course all this data needs to be carefully and accurately inputted, so some data entry is a necessary part of a researcher’s role.

Please be aware that research programs vary from site to site, some operate at certain times of year only and all are subject to change.  NOTE: If you are looking to use data collected during your stay at the program for a university course or thesis, please refer to our Facilitated Research Program instead.

You can download our Wildlife Conservation Research internship brochure here.

What are we looking for?

When choosing a Wildlife Conservation Research 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 animals/wildlife and their conservation.  Prior in-the-field research experience is preferable.

On a personal level, you need to be extremely focussed as the majority of research you will be carrying out is, by nature, painstaking.  Attention to detail is vital in this field.  To reward your patience and dedication you will get to spend every day in the company of one of Africa’s most magnificent species.  

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

An experience too good to miss, but don’t take our word for it.  Here’s what some of our previous Wildlife Conservation Research 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 intern@lionalert.org 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 Wildlife Conservation Research 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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