Eligibility requirement: Intermediate level of English, experience with computers, standard software and common functionalities.

Associated career paths: GIS Analyst / Technician/ Coordinator, Cartographer and Photogrammetrist, GIS Programmer and Software Developer, Geographer, Surveying and Mapping Technician, Oceanographer, Geoscientist, Environmental Biologist, Environmental Engineer, Seismologist

Minimum duration: 4 weeks

Internship details

Based at the Dinokeng Game Reserve, interns on this Environmental Conservation Internship will learn how to use GIS software, collect GIS data on the ground, and apply data and skills to solve real-world African conservation issues.

The GIS Specialization for Environmental Conservation internship is based at Dinokeng Game Reserve, a leading conservation reserve in central South Africa. Internships consist of three components:


Environmental conservation interns in South Africa are required to spend time familiarizing themselves with GIS prior to the internship. It’s important to be familiar with GIS mapping before arriving on-site, and you’ll need to know and understand basic concepts such as vector, raster, attribute, and projection. A basic overview of map elements is also expected.

An online introduction to GIS will be provided to interns once you’ve registered, which usually takes between 1-5 hours to complete, depending on your existing level of proficiency.

Field research

GIS & Environmental Conservation internship in South Africa

Interns assist field studies at the Dinokeng Game Reserve, gaining experience in how data is collected. You can assist a range of biodiversity surveys, game transects, vegetation surveys, bird-point count, camera trap servicing, and common conservation issues in Africa.

Your primary focus as an intern will be on completing the first ten modules of the official QGIS training manual. This is done at your own pace, in between optional field session activities. The modules within the QGIS training manual are accompanied by follow-along lessons using tutorial data.

Your supervisor will provide support, but the onus is on interns to find your own solutions, as this really is the best way to learn GIS! In addition to regular field work activities, GIS interns will be required to collect your own spatial attribute data on surveys.

Conservation project

The third component of the environmental conservation internship in South Africa is assisting a real-world GIS conservation project. You’ll combine your own field data with spatial data held at the reserve to answer important conservation questions and complete a project. This provides useful data for the conservation programme, as well as giving interns real-world research experience.

Interns submit solutions to the GIS Research and Training Manager at the conclusion of the internship and will be graded. On successful completion of the internship course, interns are issued a certificate of completion, outlining the skills you’ve learned, the types of data you’ve manipulated and the experience you’ve gained.

Dinokeng Game Reserve also hosts Intern Abroad HQ’s Reserve Management Internship.

GIS and environemtnal conservation interns learn from a qualified and experienced supervisor, and can be involved in:
  • Using and learning GIS mapping techniques
  • Data collection for field research
  • Assisting surveys, transects, camera trapping, and conservation issues
  • Completing training in QGIS
  • Collecting spacial attribute data
  • Carrying out your own research project in conservation or other issues
Professional development opportunities:
  • Practical application of a range of GIS mapping techniques
  • Experience gathering and interpreting data on a South African game reserve
  • Undertaking a research project based on collected and supplied data
Typical schedule:
  • Mostly full-time Monday to Friday, depending on weather, season and research requirements. Interns may be required to assist research outside normal work hours or on weekends on arrangement.
Internship highlights:
  • Real life experience using mapping techniques
  • Time spent conducting research on an operational game reserve
  • Completing a research project with genuine conservation benefits
Types of host organizations:
  • Dinokeng Game Reserve in central South Africa

Keen to get started?

Taking the first step is easy! It is free to apply and takes just 5 minutes.

Submit an application

Program fees

It’s free to apply for this internship. Once we have reviewed your suitability and accepted you onto this program, you’ll need to pay a deposit of US$449 to confirm your place. The remaining balance of your Program Fee (less your initial US$449 deposit payment) will be due no less than 60 days before your internship start date.

Internship Duration Program Fee (USD)
4 weeks 4 weeks $2,469
6 weeks 6 weeks $3,209
8 weeks 8 weeks $3,949
10 weeks 10 weeks $4,689
12 weeks 12 weeks $5,429

Please note that program fees for all South Africa Environmental internships include return transportation to the airport. This transportation service is scheduled on specific dates and times. To ensure the schedule works for you, check with your Internships Manager for details before booking your departure flights.

  • To convert these prices to your local currency visit the XE currency converter.
  • All payments attract a 5% transaction fee to cover international banking fees and currency charges. International wire transfer payments attract a minimum fee of US$75.
  • Terms and Conditions apply

Program fee for abroad internships

What it covers
  • Securing your internship placement
  • Personalization of your internship plan
  • International reference letter
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Airport pick-up and return
  • Program orientation
  • Internship placement
  • Experiential Learning Curriculum
  • Accommodation & meals

Intern review: Sarah Leaman

South Africa - Reserve Management at Dinokeng Game Reserve

"Once winter break commenced, I happily packed my backpack (binoculars included) after my last final exam of fall semester, headed to the airport, and thirty-some hours later (San Diego to Johannesburg..." read more

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Arrival and Orientation

Once interns have arrived at their accommodation and the internship site - after having received the airport pick up - there is time for introductions and settling in, which is followed by orientation. Orientation covers important details concerning schedule, support, safety, program rules and expectations, and more.

Return transportation is provided for all interns, according to a set schedule. All interns are advised not to book their flights until they have first confirmed their participation and received further guidance on making travel arrangements.

Internships begin the 1st and 15th of every month. Interns can choose to spend a minimum of 2-4 weeks, up to a maximum of 12 weeks. O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg (JNB) is the international gateway, from where interns are collected and transported by vehicle on a 100km journey to the camp (about 90 minutes driving time). Dinokeng Game Reserve is located approximately 45 kilometers north of the urban center of Pretoria, Gauteng. Airport pick-ups are coordinated to occur on the 1st and 15th of each month only, departing at 1:00 p.m.


Interns are accommodated in a comfortable and spacious research house, which is located inside the reserve and it is not uncommon to see African wildlife grazing throughout the day. The accommodation provides four shared bathrooms and seven large bedrooms. The bedrooms are fitted with 2-3 double bunks in each and there is ample storage space. The bathrooms provide warm and cold running water and standard flush toilets. Comfortable beds, bed sheets, pillows and pillow cases are provided but interns must bring their own sleeping bags and/or duvets. Common spaces include a large dining area, lounge, kitchen, outside verandah, swimming pool, and ‘braai pit’ for barbecues. The fully-equipped kitchen has a stove, oven, microwave, fridge and freezer.

On all of the Environmental Internships, the local team stay on-site in order to provide supervision and support. This provides an ideal opportunity for interns to gain firsthand knowledge from experienced staff about the challenges and rewards of living and working in Africa reserve areas. Interns are required to share accommodation (same sex sharing cannot be guaranteed) and private rooms are not available. Interns are also responsible for daily cleaning of their own living space. As everyone on reserve camps live together in a group environment, interns are expected to maintain cordial relationships with fellow program participants and reserve staff.

Accommodation camps have a desktop computer onsite (used for data entry), that can be used by arrangement with the Camp Manager to send basic emails. However, is highly recommended that interns bring their own mobile phones and then purchase a “pay as you go” SIM card and airtime vouchers (available from local stores and airports) as a means to stay in touch with family and friends. Data charges are very reasonable and MTN and Vodacom are preferred network suppliers. Cell phone signal is typically good but can sometimes be intermittent. There is electricity available at all of the program accommodation camps, so mobile phones, cameras, iPods and laptops can be easily charged.


On the Environmental Internships, all meals are prepared by interns themselves from the groceries and food provided by our local team (the program fee covers the cost of the food). Interns will be scheduled to assist with cooking and cleaning duties as a group effort during their stay and this schedule, along with any other important camp duties, are typically coordinated at the program orientation. For interns participating on the Sodwana Bay Marine National Park internship program, packed lunches may sometimes be made in advance and brought down to the beach.

Vegetarian and other dietary requirements must be communicated in advance, so that we can cater for any special meals. Note that there is an additional weekly surcharge if a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian or vegan diet is requested. This is in order to provide speciality grocery items, which are often more expensive in South Africa (i.e. soy milk, gluten free bread/pasta, protein supplements, etc). The extra cost is US$30 per week if a gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegan diet is required. For vegetarian diets, the surcharge is US$20 per week. This amount will be included in the internship Program Fee quoted to you by Intern Abroad HQ when you apply.

Activities and tourism

It is important to know that South African Environmental internship programs are located in rural areas, where there are limited social activities and attractions. Distances between towns are great and public transport is very limited. The typical work schedules on these programs keep interns pretty busy throughout the week - and sometimes over the weekends too - but shorter work days can sometimes occur if weather conditions are not suitable for various activities. We recommend that interns bring ample reading material, card / board games, iPods, and similar personal entertainment items, for periods when there is “downtime”. If you feel the need to be in or near a big city, then these programs might not be for you. But if you have a passion for the great outdoors, you’ll have the experience of a lifetime!

The nearby town of Pretoria has many restaurants, pubs, shops and supermarkets. Interns will be allowed the opportunity over weekends, and by arrangement with the Camp Manager, to spend 1-2 nights at a back packers lodge in the city. There are a number of adventure activities offered by tourist suppliers on the reserve which may interest interns. The Camp Manager can assist with such accommodation, tour arrangements or adventure activities, but interns will sign off the project and have to pay for such tour services at an additional cost. For example, our local team recommends a budget of approximately R1500 – R2500 (US$100 - US$200) for a 2-night stay at a Backpacker Lodge and weekend activities, such as restaurant meals, evening entertainment, etc.

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Country profile

Capital Pretoria (Executive), Bloemfontein (Judicial), Cape Town (Legislative)
Population 55.91 million
Languages Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, Tswana
Currency South African Rand (ZAR)
Time zone UTC+02:00

Weather and climate: South Africa is generally temperate, however due to varied topography and oceanic influence, a great variety of climatic zones exist. This ranges from the extreme desert of the Namib (northwest South Africa), to the subtropical climate along the Mozambique border and the Indian Ocean (eastern South Africa).

The Dinokeng Game Reserve, located in the Gauteng province, falls within the savanna biome, where the climate is humid and subtropical. The warm season, from September through March, is hot and rainy (most rainfall occurs during the afternoon). The colder months, May through July, are dry and cool. The average lows during winter are mild, but it can get cold due to the clear skies, bringing temperatures in the range of 36 °F to 23°F (2°C to -5 °C). The average annual temperature in the region is 65.7°F (18.7 °C). The Dinokeng Game Reserve and Gauteng region is a malaria free area.