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South Africa - Wild Cat Sanctuary

Volunteer at a sanctuary that focuses on big and small cats, including cheetahs, leopards, lions, African wild cats and caracals, plus other wildlife species. The center is well-known for rehabilitating and successfully releasing animals in to the wild. You will live on the sanctuary grounds and gain a better understanding of issues facing African wildlife.



Fast Facts

Location of ProjectFree State, South Africa
Project LengthMin 2 weeks - Max 12 weeks ( Minimum stay is technically 16 days - 2 day orientation + 2 weeks volunteering)
Arrival AirportJohannesburg International Airport
Volunteer WorkAnimal welfare and community education
Number of ParticipantsUp to 8 International volunteers
Age18 - 80
Program Schedule 2-day orientation is Wed-Fri; Volunteer work begins Mon.

What's Included

AccommodationShared room in volunteer house
FoodThree meals a day
SupportLocal in-country team and 24hr emergency support
Airport TransfersIncluded on arrival and departure days
Orientation All necessary training and introductions provided upon arrival
Pre-Departure Kit Full project details will be sent following registration
Insurance Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage

What's Not Included

Flights, personal expenses, visa (if required)


Kimberley is the capital of the Northern Cape Province and lies near the border of the Free State Province.  The city is most famous for what is now called the Big Hole, the site of what claimed to be the largest hand-dug excavation area where miners once dug for diamonds.  The city is now filled with museums and monuments dedicated to this sparkly gem and the miners who brought the riches to South Africa.  Kimberley is also considered a great area for bird watching with over 186 species in the area, as well as a hot destination for fly fishing.


About the Project

This sanctuary has two functions: it acts both as a permanent sanctuary to a variety of African wildlife that cannot be released back into the wild, and also works to rehabilitate animals who are able to return to their natural habitat. Some of the animals are also kept as 'ambassadors' and play an integral part in educating the public about the importance of wildlife conservation. In addition, the sanctuary has saved 12 lions from being hunted.


Arrival and Orientation 

Prior to your volunteering, you'll participate in a two-day orientation in Johannesburg. This orientation is a time for volunteers to meet and get acquainted with each other and the project staff prior to going to their projects. You'll also be taken on a tour of the city that includes Nelson Mandela Bridge, Telkum Tower, Constitutional Hill and various other attractions. 

Please note that the tour is flexible and may change according to the group’s interests for the day. This is your personal tour of the city with our local guide and aims to show you the best sites and places for the day.

Note: The orientation is required and is not a part of the 2 weeks designated for volunteer work. Therefore, the minimum stay is 17 days for the 2 week option, 24 days for 3 weeks, and so on. All prices include orientation.


Volunteer Work and Contribution

As a volunteer, your main concerns will be promoting the health and welfare of all the animals living on the grounds.  You will be working with a variety of animals including cheetahs, lions, leopards, caracals, African wild cats, foxes, jackals, meerkats and monkeys.  You will be taught how to care for each animal as they all have different needs.  You will have minimal contact with the animals who are in the process of being rehabilitated and eventually released, as the park tries to keep them as wild as possible. Your volunteer tasks may include:

  • Preparing food and feeding the animals
  • Cleaning enclosures 
  • Building, expanding and repairing enclosures
  • Grounds maintainance
  • Enrichment activities for the animals, providing them with exercise and stimulation
  • Giving tours to visitors and explaining about different animals and conservation efforts

A typical day:  You will wake up early, usually around 7:00 am, to the sound of the cats calling you.  At breakfast, the staff will go over the day’s tasks and you will go about feeding the animals, checking enclosures, and whatever else needs doing. After a lunch break, you may have additional tasks or get some free time to play with the different animals or relax by the pool. You will have dinner as a group and free time but, just before everyone goes to bed, you will need to check on the big cats and make sure they are settled in for the night.  


Living Arrangements

Accommodations: You will stay at the volunteer house, which is located on the property and has a fully furnished kitchen and shared bathroom with hot water and Western style toilets.  The rooms are shared with up to 6 other volunteers.

Food: Three meals a day are provided. Breakfast will consist of cereals and fruit, sandwiches will be served for lunch, and a hot meal with meat and vegetables will be served for dinner.  

Internet: Wifi is not available, but volunteers can purchase a sim card with data when they arrive.

Laundry: Laundry service is available for a small fee. 


Travel Highlights

There is so much to see and do in South Africa that it will be hard to narrow down your choices.  You can travel the Kalahari Red Dune Route from the Northern Cape up to the borders of Namibia and Botswana to see a wealth of cultural and natural treasures.  If you enjoy bustling cities, don’t miss out on a trip to Johannesburg and Cape Town, both of which offer plenty of attractions.   

Please note that all excursions are at an additional cost.


Minimum Requirements

  • Minimum age of 18
  • Basic level of English
  • Medium level of fitness
  • Flexibility and willingness to get hands dirty
  • Genuine desire to work with wildlife


Here's an excerpt of Margaret-Amelia's experience:

  "The biggest shock for me was when one volunteer mentioned that we had the opportunity to spend the night with a cheetah—Zena was rescued from a family who kept her as a pet and therefore she is unable to regulate her own body temperature. At night, she either sleeps with the project leaders or two volunteers. Sleeping with Zena was like sleeping with a dog-sized cat; she purred, cuddled, and gave kisses."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Kailin's experience:

  "I met so many lifelong friends and so many were from all across the globe. When you meet these people and bond so much, you will feel like family by the end of the trip. I now know that if I ever want to travel somewhere where one of these friends live, I will find them willing to take me in. I would do the same for them if any of them came to where I live as well."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!


Here's an excerpt of Kate's experience:


"A main reason this sanctuary stood out for me is because they are against canned hunting and captive bred hunting. The leaders of this project do everything possible to ensure that their animals are safe and have a long and happy life. If you’re looking for an ethical volunteering project; you’ve found one. I could not recommend this project more, and the founders and owners of the project are incredible, inspiring people. Their dedication to their work and their love for every single one of their animals is awe inspiring."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!

Here's an excerpt of Christina's experience:


"Aside from relaxing time, remember, that you will have to work. There is a fixed schedule according to which you will have to get up early and go around your chores. Sometimes there is not much to do and sometimes there is a lot of hard and even dirty work to be done during the day, including construction, helping around the house, cutting meet, feeding etc. It is important to remember that you came here not to enjoy, but also to help and, thanks to your contribution, the farm will grow and prosper. You will be able to see its progress with your own eyes even if you stay only for two weeks."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!

Here's an excerpt of Ana's experience:



"While I was there, we were working on a new space for Roger the caracal. We also assisted on daily tours of the facility. In between working, there was plenty of free time to spend quality time with the animals of our choice, including cheetahs, caracals, lions, servals, monkeys, and more."

Read the rest of her story on the GoEco blog!



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