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Elephant Conservation in South Africa

Be part of an incredible elephant conservation experience at Phinda Private Game Reserve, participating in either an elephant contraception or an elephant collaring and getting up close and personal with these iconic wildlife giants.

When to go
Please enquire
From price
£10,200 pp*
Ideal length
5 nights

Embark on a unique elephant conservation experience in the world-renowned Phinda Private Game Reserve. Home to Africa’s Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino), as well as 436 bird species, the reserve is particularly well known for close-up sightings of the elegant yet elusive cheetah, as well as the rare black rhino.

The reserve has seen many conservation firsts, so join researchers and wildlife veterinarians on an elephant contraception or collaring experience – depending on which research activity is available at the time.


If you think of an African safari, it’s likely that a majestic elephant is one of the first images that comes to mind. However, when confined in a nature reserve and their numbers increase too dramatically, they are capable of causing major environmental changes, damaging natural vegetation and the many species dependent on it.

Phinda Private Game Reserve was the first to use non-invasive contraceptives to manage its burgeoning elephant population. Female elephants are vaccinated only after having had one calf, with the aim of the programme not to decrease numbers but to slow their growth to an appropriate level.

On this incredible half-day elephant contraception experience, join one of the reserve’s wildlife veterinarians and gain first-hand knowledge about this game-changing programme as you assist with ultrasound examinations and take blood samples of selected elephant cows within the reserve.

elephant conservation phinda south africa elephant conservation phinda south africa
elephant conservation phinda south africa elephant conservation phinda south africa


To ensure the survival of Africa’s elephant herds, seven elephants on the reserve have been collared to allow staff to monitor and track their movements. In time, the collars age and need replacing and guests are invited to participate in this experience and play an active role in the day’s adventure.

Start your morning with a briefing from the vet as well as the reserve manager. You’ll then split into two groups with the veterinary team soaring overhead in a helicopter in search of the elephant as you follow in hot pursuit with an expert ranger in a 4×4.

Once the animal is located and safely darted, see the helicopter land before re-joining the team for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to touch the anaesthetised elephant as they change its collar.

Elephants are extremely heavy and take multiple people to manoeuvre in order to remove the old collar and slide the new one into place. Once successfully changed, the collar is measured and adjusted and the extra portion is removed. The vets do a final check on the comfort of the elephant before ensuring the transmitter works and administering an antidote to wake them.

Hop back in your 4×4 and retreat to a safe distance as you watch the elephant wake up, roll onto her haunches and take some uneasy steps back towards her herd before moving off into the bush together.

* Dates are dependent on when there is an elephant to collar, as well as on the availability of the wildlife vet and the helicopter pilot.
This is a not-for-profit expedition, with all proceeds from the journey going directly to the projects and conservation teams at Phinda Private Game Reserve and those supported by The Pelorus Foundation.
The price is based on per person sharing, excluding international flights.
Guests must be 12 years and older.


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¹ The Pelorus Foundation is a charity that empowers communities to preserve and protect the world’s wildlife and wild places for future generations’

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