© Robbie Labanowski

Internships – Samburu Research Center

Each year, we accept a small number of interns to Save the Elephants in Kenya. These internships comprise 1-3 month professional placements with one of our research projects in Kenya, designed for university students or graduates pursuing a career in conservation, with skills in scientific data collection and analysis. Structured around our three pillars, these internships harness the skills of interns while involving them directly with projects. Interns contribute to our Long Term Monitoring work, behavioural studies, human-elephant conflict or conservation education.

Internships at our Samburu camp are highly competitive (we typically accept only six interns per year), so potential candidates should carefully read the “frequently asked questions” section below before applying. For internships at STE Samburu project please email your CV and cover letter indicating the period applying for to us at our head office in Nairobi ([email protected]).

Frequently asked questions

Our interns are over 18 years of age and are selected by their academic qualifications as listed on their CV’s and cover letters explaining why they want to work for STE and, in particular, what skills they can offer our organisation. We normally expect our interns to be studying a degree at a reputable university in the fields of zoology, biological sciences, environmental sciences or geography and to be intent on pursuing a career in this field. We are also interested in accepting postgraduates and career-break interns who are trying to get more experience in the field of conservation biology and ecology or who may be interested in doing PhD research. The work available is conservation related, and not tactile or anatomical, thus we do not accept veterinary students. Occasionally, we do accept interns in our Nairobi Head Office who can help us with fundraising, marketing, website and office based projects such as managing our African Elephant Library. Such opportunities do not follow normal application cycles and thus will be advertised specifically when they arise. Interns have come to us from all over the world including Kenya, USA, UK, Australia, Netherlands and Germany. We don’t encourage school pupils or pre-university gap year students to apply.

Internships at STE Samburu camp are open again to any international or Kenyan interns who would like to support our research and conservation work. Interns need to carefully evaluate the risks associated with travelling to Kenya, and bear in mind that a vaccination and/or Covid-19 negative molecular test is usually required to enter Kenya. Please also check your home country travel bans and regulations about travelling to Kenya before applying for an internship. We require all interns, Kenyan and international, to be fully vaccinated before visiting our Samburu camp (proof of vaccination will be requested upon successful application). In case vaccination could not be secured prior to travelling, all interns, Kenyan and international, must exhibit proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test. The test can be obtained at the AMREF Medical Center at Wilson Airport in Nairobi (approximately $50) and should be taken no more than 3 days before anticipated travel to Samburu camp. International interns will have to spend one week in Nairobi before taking the test, in order to ensure that they have not contracted the virus during their flight to Kenya. This will translate into 9-10 days to be spent in Nairobi before travelling to our Samburu camp. In case you are not prepared to raise funds for accommodation in Nairobi, please reconsider your application. We understand this may be an issue for applicants, but it is in the best interest of our Samburu community, which comprises several vulnerable people who cooperate with our conservation projects. In camp, the health and safety of our interns is of primary importance, and a large proportion of our staff has been fully vaccinated or is in the process of receiving a second vaccine dose. Everyone in camp abides to safety rules like wearing facemasks, washing hands with soap and using sanitizer.  All international applicants should be aware that a travel medical insurance must be secured before travelling to Kenya.

We have 6 internships positions available at STE Samburu camp every year, and these are usually divided half/half between international and Kenyan interns. Due to our limited availability of accommodation and desk space at Samburu camp, we can only accept two interns at a time in three different slots (one Kenyan and one international intern).  We have three intern seasons: October-December (ending before the Christmas break), February-April, and June-August. We encourage international applicants to apply for internships in October-December and February-April. Applications are open throughout the year, until the positions for each slot are filled. Applicants should please specify their preferred time of the year to undertake their internship.

We would like interns to commit to 3 months of work. Shorter periods are negotiable, but we prefer interns to spend at least 2 months with us, in order to provide them with a more complete and in-depth training. Depending on the project work assigned to you, this may be spent in either Nairobi or our Samburu research camp, although primarily, work is done in Samburu which is our research facility. Most Nairobi interns will have an opportunity to visit the Samburu research camp during their time in Kenya.

STE internships are highly competitive and therefore we only select the best candidates. We do our best to match interns with at least one main project that fits their experience, interest and skills base. This said, interns are to serve as assistants to field staff and researchers, and thus the projects you will be participating in will be part of on-going work, and only rarely do interns take a leading role in the project. The primary focus of intern project work is to assist with data collection (primarily for our Long-Term Monitoring and Mammal Census projects) and crucially, to implement data entry/cleaning for all our field projects. Interns should expect to spend four half-days per week doing field work, and four half-days plus two full days per week assigned to data entry and cleaning. Have a read of our website to learn more about the project work conducted at STE of which you could be a part of. Interns with exceptional skills and expertise in statistical analyses, GIS, or scientific writing can be selected to be assigned to one of our “Special Intern Projects”, which will involve a more dedicated research attention to a specific subject (e.g. elephant migratory movements, elephant impacts on large trees). A full list of our special projects will be provided to those applicants who possess the relevant qualifications. Applicants with skills outside ecology and conservation are also welcome to apply, but should please specify in their cover letter how such skills could benefit STE.

Having realized the research constraints plaguing us in this regard, we prefer not to take on MSc students who want to pursue their own projects. We may not have the supervisory personnel necessary to guide a student through a project, and do not have the infrastructure in terms of free research vehicles and equipment that a student may need to collect data with. It may however be that at certain points STE has projects that could act as a discreet MSc project for a student to do. When such a case arises, we will advertise the opening on this page. In exceptional cases, if we do take a student on with their own project that we feel we can support, the student should provide us with their course details, the structure needed for their research project and the topic area. In this regard, we would only support MSc projects that fit within STE’s research aims at the time of the student’s application.

Overseas interns will have to raise funds to pay for their international flight to and from Kenya. For travel from Nairobi to Samburu and back, interns should raise funds for a car/driver hire, since the reliability of internal flights has been severely reduced by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, when possible we will try and combine interns travelling from Nairobi to Samburu (and back) with our supply runs. Interns working at the Samburu Research Camp need to raise a minimum of US$35 (3500 KES) per night that they stay at the camp. This is a heavily subsidised contribution towards your food, drinking water, accommodation, laundry, security, internet access and any equipment that is used to collect data. Interns usually manage to raise an extra donation on top of their daily camp fee to support the ongoing work of STE but this is not compulsory. Kenyan applicants who are financially unable to pay our subsidised camp fee should apply in the usual way with a CV and cover letter but explaining your financial constraints, as we have a few sponsored positions for Kenyan citizens. International applicants should be aware that proof of a comprehensive travel medical insurance will be requested upon arrival to Kenya.

We will send you a more comprehensive list of equipment once you are accepted as an intern. However, you should expect to bring a laptop with wireless internet capabilities, a good camera with zoom lens, a pair of binoculars and a comprehensive first aid kit. Please note that interns with any kind of medical or physical condition must inform us with full details during the application process. All interns should please bear in mind that some field activities will involve frequent exposition to extreme heat and sun. Malaria is present at our Samburu camp, so we recommend all interns to start a suitable anti-malarial prophylaxis before visiting the camp, upon consultation with a medical practitioner.

very intern is responsible for writing a report to the wardens of Samburu and Buffalo Springs Reserve describing the activities undertaken. This report should consist of a useful set of information that can help the conservation and management of the park. This should be submitted before leaving the camp. It is a critical part of the internship as the park waives a large amount of fees for interns coming to stay with STE, and thus need something substantial in return for the betterment of the park. For STE, the main responsibility of the intern is to complete the tasks assigned in the time given. A one-page weekly report on the undertaken activities should be submitted every Saturday to our Samburu research manager. Additional monthly reports will be expected from interns assigned to one of our Special Intern Projects. For the STE website, interns are expected to produce 1-2 website and social media blogs per month detailing their work and experiences, complete with relevant high resolution photos.

Interns often help our long-term researchers with data analysis or collection. Occasionally we will publish papers or reports on this data and there may be a chance for exceptional interns to be listed as authors or acknowledged on research papers. Several interns have returned for a second year after successful completion of a first internship. We are very grateful for interns who go on to help us with fundraising activities in their own countries once they return home.


Elephants need you to live their large and wild lives