Eligibility requirement: Intermediate level of English, experience with computers, standard software and common functionalities. High School graduates aged 18+ are welcome to apply, provided that you have a genuine desire to learn and grow within this field.

Language requirements: This internship is conducted in English.

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 Gondwana Game Reserve, a leading conservation reserve in central South Africa, interns 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. Develop essential transferable skills with leading open-source software QGIS.

This is an in-country internship, with accommodation and meals provided.

The GIS Specialization for Environmental Conservation internship consists of three components:

Preparation

The GIS internship requires interns 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 once you have confirmed your participation, 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

Once you have arrived at the Gondwana Game Reserve, you will assist with field studies to gain data collection experience. Data collection activities may be related to biodiversity surveys, game transects, vegetation surveys, bird-point counts, camera trap servicing, and various other 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 (provided to you, once you have confirmed your participation). 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 during the internship in South Africa will provide support, but the onus is on you as an intern to find your own solutions, as this really is the best way to learn GIS! In addition to regular field work activities, interns are also required to collect your own spatial attribute data on surveys.

Conservation project

The third component of the GIS internship is related to 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, while also providing you with real-world fieldwork research experience.

Interns submit solutions to their supervisor at the conclusion of their internship, for review and feedback. This activity also earns you a relevant certificate of completion, outlining the skills you’ve learned, the types of data you’ve manipulated, and the experience you’ve gained.

GIS and environmental 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 spatial 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
  • Gain practical skills and boost your employability, with guidance from Intern Abroad HQ’s Experiential Learning Curriculum to support your learning and cultural intelligence
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:
  • Gondwana Game Reserve in South Africa
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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 $2,519
6 weeks 6 weeks $3,284
8 weeks 8 weeks $4,049
10 weeks 10 weeks $4,814
12 weeks 12 weeks $5,579

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

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Arrival and Orientation

GIS Internships in South Africa commence on the first and third Monday of the month. Exceptions may be made to this schedule if a Monday start date falls on or near a public holiday. Note that the internship has limited capacity and we encourage interns to plan in advance, to secure your preferred internship dates. Interns may choose to spend a minimum of 4 weeks, up to a maximum of 12 weeks.

Airport pick up, drop off and accommodation are included in the Program Fee. The accommodation is covered from the Monday night of your start date - interns are required to arrive on their start date and are asked not to book flights until your placement has first been confirmed. Specific instructions will then be provided for arrival and departure logistics.

The typical port of entry into South Africa for this internship is the George Airport (GRJ). George Airport is located in the Western Cape, where the town of George is a popular, holiday resort town, situated along the infamous Garden Route. George Airport provides domestic flights to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Bloemfontein through a number of airlines. If you arrive into South Africa at an international gateway (such as Johannesburg, OR Tambo International Airport or Cape Town, Cape Town International Airport) then you will need to arrange a connecting flight into George Airport.

Interns are met on arrival at George Airport and transferred to the reserve, departing as one group, for the Gondwana Game Reserve. The Reserve is approximately 90 minutes from the George Airport. Upon arrival to the site, interns will be welcomed and receive guidance in regard to orientation, safety, and getting settled in.

The last night of the accommodation is the Sunday night of your final week. Departing interns are provided return transportation to George Airport, on the first and third Monday of the month.

Accommodation

Accommodation is provided on-site at Gondwana Game Reserve, which is an established research camp.

Interns are accommodated in shared safari tents (two people per tent) on raised platforms. Each tent is equipped with beds, an overhead light, bedside tables and lamps, cupboards and USB charging stations. Bathroom tents, each equipped with a gas hot-water shower, toilet and basin are located on site. Each bathroom unit will be shared by between two to four people.

It is important to note that private rooms are not available and same-sex sharing cannot be guaranteed. If this does not work for you, please contact Intern Abroad HQ. We are happy to provide guidance on alternative programs which may meet your needs.

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.

Common areas of the camp include a fully equipped lecture/lounge tent with power, tables and chairs, comfy couches, and a library of guide books, scientific readings, maps and equipment.

The safari tent accommodation runs solar power with a backup generator. The charging of electronic devices will be organized in rotation. Interns must bring their own towels and toiletries. Supplies for hand-washing are supplied and there is a weekly laundry service which will collect, wash, and iron your laundry at your own cost. Wi-Fi will be available to use in camp.

Local staff additionally stay onsite at the camp, to provide ongoing 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.

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, it 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.

Meals

Meals are included in the Program Fee for this internship. All meals are prepared by interns themselves, from the groceries and food provided by our local team. A roster of duties is scheduled, so that interns can assist with cooking and cleaning as a group effort. The schedule (which can include various other important camp duties) is coordinated at the orientation.

It is important to be aware that vegetarian and other dietary requirements must be communicated in advance, so that we can cater for any special meals. There is an additional weekly surcharge if a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian or vegan diet is requested. This is in order to provide specialty 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

The Gondwana Game Reserve is located on the Western Cape, so you have the opportunity to explore the region during your free time. The internship schedule is full-time, Monday through Friday. During weekends, the local staff can provide you with guidance and support in regard to arranging excursions to local cultural and historical sites. For example, you could visit ostrich farms, dare to go shark-cage diving, visit Mossel Bay beach, and visit the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex. If you’re interested in booking a safari tour (either before or after your internship) please let us know. Our team in South Africa can assist you to plan a safe, affordable and ethical excursion.

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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 Gondwana Game Reserve, located in the Western Cape province has an idyllic climate. The average temperatures are between 13°C / 55°F in June, and 19°C / 66°F in January.