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.
- 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, Monday: 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, Tuesday-Saturday: 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, Sunday: 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.
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What's not Included
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.
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
- 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.
- Minimum age of 18
- Good level of physical fitness
- Desire to contribute to animal welfare and conservation efforts
- Willingness to get hands dirty
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!