a Cape Town Marine, Wildlife and Environmental Conservation | IE3 Global
Health and Safety Emergencies: (541) 737-7000

Cape Town Marine, Wildlife and Environmental Conservation | Cape Town, South Africa

More photos from this internship can be found here.

More photos from this internship can be found here.

Interns will be placed in one of a variety of divisions of the Table Mountain National Park, a unique Cape Town ecosystem. Internships are tailored to the applicant’s interests and experience. Opportunities exist in both land and marine conservation and in research, education and monitoring.

Gain valuable professional experience at a reputable organization in this key industry in South Africa.

Duration of Internship:

  • 11-12 weeks – Longer internships may be possible, and can be discussed on a case-by-case basis.

The following organizations are examples of the organizations you may be placed with through this internship; however, there may be other options as well. A clearly written, detailed cover letter and “Individualized Placement Statement,” part of the application process, will enable us to place you in a suitable organization. All internship sites offer good learning opportunities. If a particular organization interests you, feel free to mention this in your application, but please note that placement with a certain company cannot be guaranteed. Placement decisions are based on the skills and interest of the intern, the needs of the worksite, and position availability.

Possible sites include:

The Eland Project/The Gantouw Project with CTEET (Cape Town Environmental Education Trust)

Work with majestic eland, the largest antelope species in Africa! The huge city of Cape Town is historically, in the natural migration path of the eland. With the encroachment of the city, eland herds left the area. The local vegetation was losing biodiversity in the absence of large browsers due to bush encroachment. This project has reintroduced a small herd of 5 Eland to the Rondevlei Section of False Bay Nature Reserve as a veld management tool used to conserve the Cape Flats Dune Strandveld vegetation. With the return of eland, the biodiversity is improving.

Learn more about this project here.


Two Oceans Aquarium

The Two Oceans Aquarium opened in November 1995 and is recognized as one of the top tourist attractions in Cape Town. Over 3000 living sea animals, including sharks, fish, turtles and penguins can be seen in this spectacular underwater nature reserve. It has established itself as a key player in raising environmental awareness through its high-quality exhibits, conservation and education programs. The aquarium is rapidly gaining recognition as a leading environmental education center in South Africa. They are respected internationally high standards of animal husbandry and the expertise of its staff in collecting and transporting live animals. Check out their blog here.

Learn more about the internship experience here.


Penguin Nursery Internship with SANCCOB (South Africa Foundation of the Conservation of Coastal Birds):

Work with African Penguins! SANCCOB is a registered non-profit organization, whose primary objective is to reverse the decline of seabird populations through the rescue, rehabilitation and release of ill, injured, abandoned and oiled seabirds – especially endangered species like the African penguin. SANCCOB works in the following areas:

  • Rescue-24/7 rescue service for sick and injured seabirds and abandoned chicks
  • Rehabilitation-treat 2400+ injured, sick and piled seabirds annually
  • Chick Rearing-Saving African Penguin eggs/chicks that have been abandoned for eventual release back into the wild.
  • Education- facility tours and presentations with Ambassador penguins
  • Research- ongoing research projects

Learn about what volunteers and interns do here.

HOUSING NOTE: Due to the location of the worksite, housing for this internship would be located outside of central Cape Town.


Bird Life South Africa

The vision of BirdLife South Africa is to see a community and region where nature and people live in greater harmony, more equitably and sustainably. BirdLife South Africa’s Mission is to Strive to conserve birds, their habitats and Biodiversity through scientifically based programs, through supporting the sustainable and equitable use of natural resources and by encouraging people to enjoy and value nature. BirdLife South Africa is a non-profit organization and has more than 5000 members on more than 30 bird clubs throughout South Africa, and produces its own birds and birdwatching magazine: African Birdlife. BirdLife South Africa's aims are to:

  • Prevent the extinction of any bird species
  • Maintain and where possible improve the conservation status of all bird species
  • Conserve and where appropriate improve and enlarge sites and habitats that are important for birds
  • Help, through birds, to conserve biodiversity and to improve the quality of people's lives
  • Integrate bird conservation into sustaining people's livelihoods


CapeNature falls under the purview of the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board. This public institution is mandated to promote and ensure biodiversity conservation within the Western Cape. CapeNature manages most of the mountain catchments and reserves that supply ecosystem services to the citizens of the Western Cape. This requires good scientific data, a sound understanding of fynbos ecology and commitment to the principles of integrated biodiversity management and planning. Much of these efforts are in remote areas out of the public eye, but have a direct bearing on the quality of life of millions of people in the province. CapeNature is driven by the vision to conserve nature for a sustainable future. The organization's mission is to manage, conserve and promote our human, natural and heritage assets through best practice, access, benefit sharing and sustainable use. Across 22 reserves in the Western Cape there are opportunities for park visitors to not only enjoy pristine nature but also; explore caves, rock climb, view ancient rock paintings, picnic, see wildlife, bird watch, kayak, swim, zip line, whale watch, fish, hike, ride horses, bike, camp or stay in one of the reserve’s many cabins.

Reserves Site Map

Learn about the Kogelberg Nature Reserve here.

Job responsibilities will vary widely depending on the placement.

Possible sites include:

The Eland Project/The Gantouw Project with CTEET (Cape Town Environmental Education Trust)

 Possible Work Tasks include:

  • Assisting with eland husbandry: cleaning and feeding eland antelope
  • Assisting with monitoring of the eland in the field
  • Assisting with logging of camera trap data on Time Lapse and doing basis analysis on Excel
  • Assisting with bird and plant surveys
  • Assisting with basic maintenance work
  • Visits to other local nature reserves
  • Community Engagement-Hosting school groups that come to learn about the eland and the project.

Two Oceans Aquarium

Possible Work Tasks include:

Initially, interns explore all areas of the aquarium, assist in various departments, and communicate where your interest lies.

Daily Tasks:

  • Help clean the exhibits
  • Food prep and animal feeding

Occasional/As Needed Tasks:

  • Aquarium Guide duties (Public engagement)
  • Animal behavior research-observing and noting patterns of aquarium animals
  • Observe vet care activities and lite assistance (x-rays, check-ups, etc.)
  • Go along on collections trips to Mouille Point, Millers Point and Table Bay
  • Animal behavior research-observing and noting patterns of aquarium animals
  • Animal Releases (for example: sharks, sea turtles)
  • Assisting in other research and conservation projects as needed.

Penguin Nursery Internship with SANCCOB (South Africa Foundation of the Conservation of Coastal Birds)

(Worksite located on the northern outskirts of Cape Town)

Possible Work Tasks include:

  • Handling and feeding African penguin chicks (over 1.5kg)
  • Maintaining a high level of hygiene and cleanliness within the Penguin Nursery
  • Weigh chicks and calculate feeds based on weight
  • Calculating and updating medication amounts for individual birds under supervision of the Veterinarian
  • Record keeping for individual birds
  • Work independently as well as part of a team in the Penguin Nursery
  • Basic training of other interns
  • Identifying behavior in chicks to determine health status
  • Temperature control
  • Identify problem areas and report them immediately

Academic Background

 Biology, marine biology, conservation, wildlife science, zoology, environmental science, marine science, oceanography


Qualifications will vary by placement. Generally, desirable qualifications include ability to work with a team, positive attitude, flexibility, self-motivation, professionalism, maturity, passion for conservation, prior academic study in the general areas of environmental science, zoology, wildlife science, conservation, biology marine science or oceanography.

Estimated One-Time Expenses

  • IE3 Program Fee: $3,450
  • Host Site Fees:  $2,475
  • Housing: $21/day plus one-time fees (ex. $1,970 for 10 weeks).
  • International Travel: $2,000
  • Recommended Immunizations: $400 (dependent on immunization history)

Estimated Monthly Expenses

  • Food: $520
  • Local Transportation: $315
  • Utilities, Phone, Internet: $75

The Host Site Fee Includes:

  • Personalized placement
  • Airport pick-up/drop off
  • In-country orientation and tour of Cape Town
  • 24/7 Emergency Support
  • Weekly organized social and cultural activities

Interns will be accommodated in private student-oriented housing in the Observatory neighborhood. Interns will have a fully-furnished private room, and shared common areas: living room, bathroom, kitchen and laundry facilities. Houses have 24-hour security. A housekeeper comes at least 2 times a week.

Interns pay a $100 cleaning fee and a $250 refundable housing deposit, directly to the housing company. The $250 deposit will be refunded, assuming there is no damage done to the house.

House Wifi: Students pay $20.00 per month for wireless internet connection on 2 devices. Internet reliability and speed are not as good as in the U.S.

Other Costs: Other utilities costs are split amongst the housemates.

“My time in Cape Town was a great opportunity for me to learn about the people, the culture, and the country of South Africa. It gave me a wonderful experience regarding how conservation is conducted in South Africa. The project that I work on is a partnership with CTEET and the City of Cape Town. This means that there are many different actors involved in the success of the project. Along the way, I have been fortunate enough to meet many people from many different organizations. This has expanded my professional network far beyond what I could have imagined this early in my career. It helped me continue to grow as a person and better myself every day that I was there. Being able to live for three months and interact with South African people daily is an experience that is not quantifiable and for which I will be forever grateful. By working hard during my time with the Gantouw Project, I can continue working with them on projects that are important to me. I learned so many different things while living in Cape Town. I learned how wonderful the people of South Africa are, how important it is to recognize how environmental conditions can impact a city of over 4 million people (i.e. the Cape Town water crisis), and I learned that everyone has a story to tell and it is so important to listen.”

-Kevin, Oregon State University

The Eland Project/The Gantouw Project with CTEET (Cape Town Environmental Education Trust)

Read Kevin’s Internship blog here.


“It was easy to see from the beginning that the staff and even the volunteers at the aquarium were a lot like a big family. I was excited to be a part of that and they were happy to have extra help. A typical day started off with cleaning the exhibits before the aquarium opened to the public. Each aquarist was in charge of an area of the aquarium. Cleaning the exhibits involved siphoning the waste out of the sand on the bottom as well as cleaning the algae and snails that grew on the windows and backings of the tanks. Mycids, a small shrimp-like animal also had to be fed to many of the tanks in the morning. After the aquarium opens and a coffee break, I generally would help prepare food.  It was a good thing I wasn’t afraid of getting my hands dirty because food preparation involved gutting a lot of squid and prepping fish, red bait, prawns and mussels. It took a while to get used to how to prepare the food because it was important that each type of food was prepared correctly so the fish and other animals could eat it properly. Naturally, after the food was ready, we fed it to the animals on exhibit. For the majority of the tanks, feeding was easy because all that needed to be done was to put the food in the tanks and make sure it was all being eaten. Some animals, however, were more difficult to feed and took certain techniques such as wiggling the fish as if it were alive so the fish would come eat it. Some animals such as the octopus also required “enrichment.” For these animals, we put the food in a toy so they had to think about how to get it out. After the feeding was finished and after lunch, we would generally help clean the tanks in Quarantine which was a behind the scenes area for fish that needed to be in separate tanks due to illness, injury, or because they were new.

Though I mentioned this routine being a typical day, there was rarely a day that went exactly like I explained. Because of this and the physical nature of my job, there was never a chance for me to get bored. Just when I thought I knew how my day was going to be run, I would be invited on a collecting trip, asked to help with something new, or something else would happen that would make the day different. I always tried to keep myself open to help whoever needed it and this was the way I made sure I was an asset to the aquarium. I always benefited from helping with something new as well. I also tried to vary which aquarist I worked with so I could learn how to take care of other areas of the aquarium.”

-Katherine, Oregon State University

Two Oceans Aquarium


“It was quite nerve-racking showing up to work in a foreign country without speaking to anyone there before starting work. Fortunately, I learned quickly that the aquarium staff were looking out for me and making sure I had an enjoyable time. Working as an intern at the Two Oceans Aquarium was not easy. My days started at 7am meaning waking up at 5:45am to catch the train into town. Upon arrival you put your belongings away and immediately get to work cleaning and preparing the fish tanks for arrival of the general public at 9:30am. This process involved siphoning tanks out, moving sand around and cleaning filters. By opening this all has to be done and cleaned up after this we take teatime. When back from teatime I would typically help out with any projects going on in the aquarium or work in the kitchen preparing food for the animals. After preparing food we would feed the animals their own tailored food and make sure that they were feeding. After lunch I had to make sure the large predator tank was fed. This was a typical day for me at the aquarium-although most days were not typical as a wide range of activities could be happening from doing a medical checkup on a rescued hawksbill turtle to helping transport the rock hopper penguins to another enclosure.

Professionally the work I did is a strong addition to my resume and shows that I can deal with working and understanding different cultures in the work place. I tried to do my best to assist everywhere I could in the aquarium to help it run better overall and inform more of the public of the environmental and conservation issues impacting marine life.

Cape Town is an amazing place in so many ways. You will see and hear humbling stories, but also meet the nicest and most genuine people who will care about you even though you are a foreigner.”

-Alex, Oregon State University

Two Oceans Aquarium


Fall | Winter | Spring | Summer

Application Deadline

Summer: January 25

Fall: April 15

Winter: September 1

Spring: November 15

Basic Requirements

- Biology, Marine Biology, Conservation, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Zoology, Environmental Science, Marine Science
- All interns are expected to demonstrate a positive attitude, flexibility, self-motivation, professionalism, maturity.