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The Western Cape is home to South Africa’s most popular tourist destinations, including Cape Town and the scenic wonder that is Table Mountain. The historically significant Robben Island is also a part of the Western Cape.
This project is in the town of Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape, at the base of the Swartberg Mountains. Besides a beautiful view, Oudtshoorn has a fun atmosphere, with its large tourist population and its ostrich farms.
This ranch is home to over 90 endangered animal species, from reptiles to large carnivores and everything in between. The ranch’s staff work diligently to care for several endangered ambassador animals. In doing so, they have created a platform for conservation through education, to encourage public awareness of the plights of various species, as well as environmental issues. This has earned them a WAZA (World Association of Zoos & Aquaria) institutional membership. The Ranch is one of only six institutions in Africa to become a member of this esteemed association.
This program is open to interns with or without previous veterinary experience, who are looking for a broad experience in animal husbandry, training, caretaking, and an introduction to veterinary work. You will be up close and personal with the resident wild animals while ensuring their wellbeing through the Ranch’s conservation efforts.
This internship is flexible and can be shaped to fit each intern’s specific requirements. Depending on your university’s specific internship requirements, additional tasks can be performed.
There are two options for interns:
Please note: The Ranch does not have an on-site veterinarian; however, our on-call veterinarian has enabled past university students to shadow him during surgery and procedures. Should there be medical procedures, our on-call vet will teach you all you can think to ask!
Most of your work on this internship revolves around caring for resident animals. When any medical procedures are required on-site, interns are always included. Kindly note that this is reliant on safety and space requirements.
Daily tasks include:
Interns typically work from 08:00- 16:30, with breaks for meals.
An intern will shadow our animal curators for three days of the week, being exposed to the dedicated care of each species-specific professional. The other two days, they will partake in the daily volunteer program to assist us in accomplishing the best possible care and environments for our animals. Schedules can vary depending on the hours required by your degree program, your requirements must be communicated ahead of arrival. After 16:30 you can explore around, go to town which is just a short drive / Uber away, hang out with the volunteers, rest, go for a run, there are many options.
Kindly note: Interns working towards accumulating specific hours should note that all 5 days of work will count towards your total.
Click to see the regular volunteer program option.
Internet: Wi-Fi is available for use at the lodge.
Laundry: There is a washing machine, ironing board and iron available for you to use for free.
Accommodations: Interns will stay in shared rooms in a luxurious lodge that contains a garden, pool and barbecue area, luxury en suite accommodation, underfloor heating in winter, entertainment area, DSTV and Wi-Fi access. There are two house cats living in the lodge.
Food: Basic breakfast ingredients are supplied at the lodge, as well as daily items such as tea, coffee, sugar, herbs & spices, fruit, cereal, milk and bread, spreads, sauces etc. Lunch is provided during your placement from the Ranch restaurant and dinner is prepared for you by the lodge manager, who also runs both lodges. When you are not working (Saturday and Sunday) meals are not included. Please note upon registration if you have allergies or special dietary needs.
The Ranch is about a five-minute walk from your lodge. It will take you about 10 minutes to walk to a local shop and approximately 30 minutes to walk to most places in town, including supermarkets, shops, restaurants and pubs.
Oudtshoorn is a relaxed town, but there are several restaurants and pubs, if you are looking for a night out. Oudtshoorn is safe at night and you can walk the 30-minute route to town. During March and April of each year, a well-known, week long Afrikaans arts festival is held. The town really comes alive, with the streets blocked off for market stalls, shows, bands and plenty of entertainment that thousands of people come to enjoy each year.
This program offers optional tours on weekends of the surrounding attractions, such as bungee jumping, shark cage diving, zip lining, horse back safaris, game drives, elephant experiences and whale watching. Oudtshoorn isn’t called the Ostrich Capital of the world for nothing! There are also Ostrich farms located 10 kilometers south of Oudtshoorn, where experienced guides will teach you all about ostrich farming.
For the more adventurous traveler, a few must-visit sites are listed below:
Located in Oudtshoorn are the magnificent Cango Caves. These caves were formed from Precambrian limestone and contain paintings and artifacts that date back to the Stone ages. These are the most popular caves in all of South Africa and are certainly worth a visit!
For the volunteers who love hiking and experiencing the beauty of nature, a hike to this waterfall should be on the “To-Do” list.
Table Mountain National Park
Also in the Western Cape is the famous Table Mountain National Park that comprises the iconic rock formation and various hiking trails. Indigenous African penguins can also be spotted here. Table Mountain is approximately five hours from Oudtshoorn by car.
Please note: tours are subject to change and depend on availability and time of year.