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Please Note: This program is temporarily unavailable. Check out our alternative programs in Africa or schedule a one-on-one call with one of our expert volunteer advisors.

Kevin Richardson, the lion whisperer, is one of the most well-known lion conservationists in the world. By volunteering at his sanctuary, you will have the opportunity to directly experience the work that he does as well as contribute to the running of his projects.

Program Highlights: 

  • Have the opportunity to meet Kevin Richardson (not guaranteed, since he has such a busy schedule)
  • Be a part of a team that works towards ending canned hunting through education and community empowerment 
  • Ethical wildlife volunteer tasks
  • Find out about the complex issues that surround hunting in Africa
  • Learn more about the plight of the lions and other African carnivores
  • Experience caring for lions and other animals at the sanctuary through enrichment programs

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

Arrival Day, Sunday: Arrive at O.R Tambo International Airport (JNB). You will be picked up at the airport and taken to your new home at the volunteer camp. Upon arrival, you will get a brief orientation of the project and then have some time to rest as well as meet other volunteers.

Days 1-5, Monday-Friday: On Tuesday you will get to see the sanctuary and after orientation, will be given your volunteer schedule for the rest of the week. Tasks are based on the needs of the project and may include anything from cleaning and doing maintenance work at the sanctuary, to feeding animals and assisting with filming projects. Thursdays will usually be your day off, so you can choose to relax and enjoy your surroundings or take tours of nearby towns and go on game drives north of the reserve. 

Day 6, Saturday Participate in an enrichment activity with the animals and end the day with a traditional South African feast.

Remaining Weeks: The remaining weeks will follow a similar schedule of volunteering Friday-Wednesday and having Thursdays (sometimes it is the Friday) off. Departures are on a Monday.

Click to see additional volunteering projects in South Africa
Location of the Project:  Gauteng Province, South Africa
Project length:  Min 1 week - Max 4 weeks
Arrival Airport:  O.R Tambo International Airport (JNB)
Volunteer Work:  Wildlife care and maintenance
Age:  18-60
Number of Volunteers:  Up to 12 international volunteers

What's Included

Accommodations:  Shared rooms in farm style accommodation
Food:  Three meals per day are provided
Airport Transfers:  Airport transfers are provided on both arrival and departure days
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, personal expenses
Although Gauteng is South Africa’s smallest province, it is home to nearly 25% of South Africans, making it the province with the highest population density. Both Johannesburg and Pretoria, the country’s capital, are situated in this province and are part of the reason the area has the highest per capita income in the country.  In this province, you can see a diverse mix of cultures, languages and first and third-world traditions blending with traditional and modern ways of life.

The sanctuary is located on the grounds of Welgedacht, a private family owned game reserve and within the borders of the Dinokeng Big Five Game Reserve.
This sanctuary’s main focus is to increase public awareness about the dangers facing not only lions but also other carnivores native to the land. Through education, social media and tourism, the sanctuary exposes visitors and locals to the natural biodiversity that exists and the current plight of lions while shedding light on how individuals and communities can make a difference.
The land that the sanctuary is on (1200 hectares) was previous farmland so, in order for it to be sustainable habitat for carnivores and other wildlife, it needs to be restored and maintained. Additionally, the sanctuary continues to build enclosures and enrichment facilities for the animals that are not free-roaming to ensure that they have the best possible environment.

Volunteers will have the unique opportunity to work at Kevin Richardson’s sanctuary in order to improve the conditions at the sanctuary. Volunteers should be prepared to work hard. Much of the work is physically demanding, but it is ultimately rewarding. 

Some of your tasks may include:
  • Road and river crossing maintenance to allow continued access to all areas of the reserve
  • Removal of invader plant species
  • The creation and maintenance of fire breaks
  • General cleaning and maintenance of the farm, predator enclosures, water holes and volunteer camp
  • Bush cutting
  • Constructing of new fences, removing old cattle fencing to create an open area and fence checks and repairs 
  • Creating and maintain predator enclosures including 
  • Cleaning predator enclosures and filling water holes 
  • Preparing, cutting and feeding meat to adult animals and pellets/milk for younger animals
  • Assisting on filming of projects
Volunteers work six days a week, usually from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM, excluding travel time to the project. If there is an unexpected event that occurs outside of these hours, volunteers may be asked to work additional or different hours. Usually on Saturdays, volunteers will hike through the reserve as a group and end the day with a boma braai.

Important Notes:
  • Volunteer tasks may vary depending on what needs to be done at the time.
  • For the safety of our volunteers and well being of the animals at the sanctuary, volunteers do not interact directly with the lions. If you are invited to join on an enrichment activity, this will always be from the safety of a vehicle.
  • While Kevin Richardson is at the sanctuary often, he also travels to other parks and areas around Africa so we cannot guarantee that you will have the opportunity to meet and interact with him.
Internet:  Internet is available for volunteers before and after work hours but can be disrupted at times.
Laundry:  A washing machine is available for volunteers to use and linens will be washed by the staff once a week. Laundry service available for a fee.
Accommodations:  Volunteers will live in shared rooms at a modern farm-style house located on the property. The rooms are comfortable and have en suite showers and toilets. The house has a living room with a TV and DVD player, a library and a dining room. Outside there is a small swimming pool and braai (BBQ) area plus an open air boma with a fireplace.
Food:  Volunteers are provided with 3 meals per day. Volunteers can make tea, coffee and cereal for breakfast and sandwiches and fruit are available for lunch. Dinner will be simple, home-style hot meals.
Please take note of this project's minimum requirements:
  • Minimum age of 18
  • Good level of physical fitness
  • Desire to contribute to animal welfare and conservation efforts
  • Willingness to get hands dirty
South Africa, the Gauteng province in particular, are packed with exciting attractions. This reserve is about an hour drive from Johannesburg which is filled with art galleries and museums. While in the city you can take a tour of the country’s best known township, Soweto, or take in the atmosphere from a seat at one of the city’s excellent restaurants or popular bars. The city of Pretoria is just a half hour away from the park and has beautiful botanical gardens and plenty of cultural activities.  

There are also plenty of adventure activities nearby including abseiling, rock climbing and caving in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site, plus bungee jumping, hot air balloon safaris and skydiving.

Add on our eight-day Garden Route Road Trip to enhance your South Africa experience!
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