South Africa – African Wildlife Ranch Internship

Introducing our 2023 Volunteer Grant: Apply for two weeks and enjoy a 3rd week for free!
Limited grants are available for start dates between October 1st till January 31st.
Schedule a phone interview to evaluate eligibility. Make a lasting impact.

Enhance your resume and gain experience working with wildlife as you complete an internship on a South African ranch that is home to over 90 species of animals! Learn to take care of animals, both big and small, on a wild adventure of a lifetime.


Program Highlights: 

  • Tailor-made internship crafted to your needs and university requirements
  • Work in an area of research that is most appropriate for you
  • Shadow and work one-on-one with a staff member
  • Ethical wildlife volunteer tasks and interactions
  • Be included in veterinary procedures that may be performed during your stay
  • Gain new skills as you take part in tasks such as training and enrichment programs


Your Schedule at a Glance (Minimum two-week commitment): 

Arrival Day, Monday: Arrive at George Airport (GRJ). You will be picked up at the airport and taken to your accommodation in Oudtshoorn. Spend the day settling into your new home and getting to know the Oudtshoorn area.

Days 1-4, Tuesday-Friday: Interns spend three days a week shadowing staff and learning about the animals at the ranch from onsite professionals. The other two days interns join the volunteers as they feed, care for, maintain enclosures and take part in the training of the animals. All five days can be counted towards your total hours of internship.

Days 5-6, Saturday-Sunday: Your weekends are free to rest and enjoy your life in Africa. Take a trip through the Swartberg pass and experience the magnificent views from the Swartberg Mountains or visit some Ostrich farms in the Ostrich capital of the world!

Remaining Weeks: The remaining weeks will follow a similar schedule of doing your internship Monday-Friday and having Saturday-Sunday off. Use your weekends to visit the Cango Caves or take a scenic trip down the Garden Route on your weekends. Hiking, canoe trips and safaris are also on the list of opportunities that you have to enjoy during your time off in South Africa. Departures are on a Mon.


Location icon Location of the Project: Oudtshoorn, Western Cape, South Africa

Project length Project length: Minimum 2 weeks – Maximum 12 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: George Airport (GRJ)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work: Wildlife Care, Research and Maintenance

Age Age:  Minimum age of 18

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Up to 3 international interns

Important Note Important Note: To receive the maximum benefit from your internship, a minimum stay of six weeks recommended.


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Shared rooms in a luxurious volunteer lodge

Food Food: Self-serve breakfast and lunch and dinners are provided on weekdays.

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers: Airport transfers are provided on both arrival and departure days.

Orientation Orientation: Orientation is provided upon arrival and includes a tour of the area and time for shopping

Support Support: Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.


What’s not Included

Flights, visas (if required), travel health insurance, weekend meals, personal expenses

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:

  • Those who simply want to shadow and work with our curators on a day-to-day basis with the various animals
  • Those who require specific research topics and/or specific assignments. Should this be you, please communicate your assignment requests to us in advance for approval.


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: 

  • Preparing food for the animals
  • Feeding animals
  • Enclosure maintenance and cleaning
  • Animal training
  • Partaking in animal enrichment activities
  • On some evenings interns will escort our animals to their night quarters


Sample Schedule: 
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 icon Internet: Wi-Fi is available for use at the lodge.

Laundry icon Laundry: There is a washing machine, ironing board and iron available for you to use for free.

Accommodations icon Accommodations: Interns will stay in shared rooms in a luxurious lodge that contains a garden, pool and barbecue area, en suite accommodation, underfloor heating in winter, entertainment area, DSTV and Wi-Fi access. There are two house cats living in the lodge.  NOTE: From May 13th to August 4th, 2024, the main volunteer house of this program is fully booked. While in this period, new applicants will be placed in the secondary lodge, which is conveniently located a few minutes away, and they can make full use of the main lodge’s facilities.

Food icon 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.


  • Basic level of English
  • Love for animals
  • Please confirm during the interview process which type of internship you are applying for: Shadowing OR a Specific University research project

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:

Cango Caves
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!

Rust-en-Vrede Waterfall
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.

Volunteer Experiences

Want to join this program?