If you’re looking to gain broad experience in the nonprofit sector, and you’re passionate about wildlife conservation, this internship could be a perfect fit for you. It’s an opportunity to help with the development and sustainability of The Ground Hornbill Project, an important initiative that works to protect this iconic African bird from extinction.

As an intern, you’ll take an active role in spreading the word to an international audience. This can involve managing and developing social media channels, drafting newsletters and reports, and writing articles for various publications. If you choose to do an in-person internship, you will also play a role in gathering the right content in the field, in the form of stories, data, and images, and videos.

If you choose to travel, you’ll have the good fortune of being based in a stunning game reserve. Not only will you experience the ground hornbill projects in the field, you’ll also be surrounded by other African wildlife, including the Big Five. This wildlife conservation communications internship offers a perfect mix of adventure, impact, and practical work experience.

Learning Outcomes:

  • A wealth of practical experience in content gathering, writing for a variety of platforms, managing social media channels, and communications strategy
  • Extensive experience in fundraising, stakeholder management, research, business development, impact reporting, and strategic planning
  • An understanding of digital marketing and fundraising
  • Insights into of the day-to-day running of a nonprofit organization
  • International work experience


The Ground Hornbill Project is dedicated to ensuring the survival of the ground hornbill, an iconic bird that is classified as ‘endangered’ in South Africa. The threats to this iconic bird are multiple; their habitat is decreasing, they suffer from secondary poisoning, and they get electrocuted by transformer boxes. Moreover, ground hornbills are killed for traditional medicine, and sometimes targeted because of their territorial behavior.

To fight the drastic decline of the ground hornbill populations across Southern and East Africa, the Ground Hornbill Project has taken a multi-faceted approach that includes research, the provision of artificial nests, and the complex rearing and reintroduction of redundant second-hatched chicks that would naturally die of starvation. To fight misconceptions about ground hornbills, and reduce incentives for killing the birds, the nonprofit also runs education campaigns in local communities.

The Ground Hornbill Project is based in Mabula, a game reserve north of Johannesburg, but its work spans across the African continent. It’s the only organization fully dedicated to the preservation of the ground hornbill.



As a marketing and communications intern, your tasks may vary depending on your skills and the needs of the project, but they will likely include some of the following:

  • Content creation for newsletters, reports, and external publications
  • Design and manage digital fundraising campaigns
  • Visual content creation (photography and videography)
  • Conduct fundraising research
  • Assist with drafting funding proposals and grant applications
  • Write impact reports and manage donor relations
  • Assist with field monitoring and evaluation
  • Help create/design educational materials
  • Develop a new fundraising initiative selling ground hornbill-themed crafts made by local communities


  • Knowledge of social media channels and ideally some experience with digital marketing
  • Strong writing skills and an ability to write for various platforms and audiences
  • A passion for storytelling, and raising awareness for a good cause
  • An ability to work on a strategic level, and to work quite independently
  • A willingness to take on a variety of tasks
  • Graphic design skills would be a plus
  • Driver’s license (in-person interns will need to drive manual (no automatic) and will have to take a small test upon arrival)
  • An ability to adapt to different cultures and have an open-minded & flexible approach to work
  • A passion for wildlife conservation and the work the Ground Hornbill Project does


This organization offers the unique opportunity of a hybrid internship. This flexible arrangement is not just possible but also preferred, as it allows interns to fully engage with the dedicated team and contribute meaningfully to their projects, while enjoying the benefits of both virtual and on-site collaboration.

If you decide to travel to South Africa, you’ll join the Mabula team in the African bush and get to live and work in a game reserve, surrounded by wildlife. Your accommodation is a five minutes drive from the office and you will have your own room, access to the common room, shared kitchen (where you can prepare your meals), and a swimming pool.

Safety & Support

Safety & Support

Make sure to visit your doctor and dentist for a check-up before yor internship and to get all the recommended vaccines and/or medications necessary to stay healthy. You are not located in a malaria risk area, so the people who live here do not take malaria medication. If you have traveled to a country with yellow fever risk, be sure to have a yellow fever certificate as this can be needed upon arrival. As the project is located in the bush, you’ll be advised to follow animal safety guidelines and learn about the cultural norms of the surrounding community.



You will be able to use your mobile phone in South Africa if you enable international roaming before you leave home. A cheaper alternative is to buy a local SIM card if your phone is unlocked for international carriers. You can go to most shops with your passport to buy a local SIM card (MTN and Vodacom are the main carriers). You can buy prepaid airtime at many smaller and bigger shops and then convert airtime to a data bundle if needed.



Your accommodation has a kitchen where you can prepare your own meals (or team up with other interns/volunteers for cooking). Usually the grocery shopping is worked around the project town trips (when supplies need to be picked up or the vehicles are due for a service). If you need groceries or toiletries urgently, there is a small superette shop at the game reserve’s main lodge.

Location details

Location details

During this internship, you’ll get to live and work in a game reserve surrounded by wildlife. You might wake up to elephants roaming past your room, lions roaring in the distance, and monkeys playing on the roof. The nearest town, Bela Bela, is about 45 minutes from the reserve.


Fee Breakdown

Internship start and end dates are flexible and will be discussed with your during the selection process.

What you’ll pay (2024 rates)

8 WEEKS USD 2,162

12 WEEKS USD 2,809

16 WEEKS USD 3,456

20 WEEKS USD 4,104

26 WEEKS USD 5,074

Remote internship: USD 525

Hybrid internship: get in touch for customized pricing


  • Careful matchmaking. It takes time to find the right internship for each person, and we take this process very seriously.
  • Initial interview with one of our team to gauge your skills, interests, and desired learning outcomes.
  • An academic internship eligible for university credit. Check with your university to confirm if this internship qualifies for credit or alternatively we can assist you with purchasing transfer credits.
  • Accommodation in a single room
  • Airport transfers upon arrival and departure
  • Wi-Fi access
  • Assistance with your visa arrangement & other preparations
  • An orientation program with your supervisor
  • Supervision & support during your stay
  • Regular check-ins during your internship with you and your supervisor
  • Troubleshooting if needed
  • A reference letter at the end of your internship


  • Flights to Johannesburg (OR Tambo)
  • Visa and medical/travel insurance costs for the duration of your placement – must include cover for repatriation
  • Meals (access to a fully equipped shared kitchen)
  • Drinks, snacks, and items of personal nature (f.e. curios, gifts, clothing)
  • Costs for additional excursions or activities


Some of our most commonly asked questions for programs in South Africa.

What can I expect from a NGO internship in South Africa?

During your internship in South Africa you can expect to meet people from around the world, as well as indulging yourself into the culture of this beautiful country! If you want to know more about what to expect, make sure to check out our top 7 reasons for an internship in Cape Town.

Will I have time to explore South Africa during my internship?

Yes! We partner with various activity organizers that can offer discounts exclusive to Roots Interns, for example, a road trip through the Garden Route and bungee jumping off the world’s largest natural bungee. You may also explore the country on your own and we are happy to give recommendations.

Am I able to do an internship while on a study program in Cape Town?

Yes! You are able to do a part-time internship with certain organizations so that you can continue your studies, while also gaining valuable work experience.

Will I receive a stipend of any kind during my internship with Roots?

Unfortunately, no. When working with a nonprofit organization, your internship will be unpaid, but there are many ways to fund your internship. Your experience will bring a wealth of knowledge and opportunities for both professional and personal growth that are invaluable!


LOCATION: Bela-Bela, South Africa OR Remote
PROGRAM FOCUS: Wildlife Conservation
TASK FOCUS: Fundraising, Research,Social Media Management, Content Creation, Writing
LENGTH: Min. 8 weeks
COST: From USD 2,162 (in-person) / USD 525 (remote)


“Everyone at the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project is so dedicated to the conservation of the incredible and unique Southern Ground Hornbill, on top of being friendly and welcoming. I had a great time interning at the project and learned a lot. I'm looking forward to visiting again.”

Natalie, United StatesBird research & Conservation Internship


  • Gain wide-ranging practical experience in development, fundraising, digital marketing, and relationship management
  • Get experience in NGO management
  • Help raise awareness for the plight of an iconic African bird
  • Be part of a passionate and driven team of biologists and conservationists
  • Live and work in the African bush, surrounded by a wealth of wildlife and stunning nature. Or enjoy the comfort of working from home if you prefer a remote internship


If you’re ready to apply for this internship, here’s what to do:


Fill in the application form (it will show in a new screen) which includes sharing your CV to us.



We’ll set up a call with you to go through your application.


If we feel it’s a good match, we’ll set up a call between you and the supervisor for this internship.


If everyone’s happy, we’ll provisionally confirm your placement! We’ll then send you the invoice for the deposit, getting started with the booking process and all the info you need.


Only once we receive payment of the deposit your placement will be confirmed.


Or if you’d just like to ask us some questions about this internship first, just fill in the contact form below. We’ll be happy to assist!


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