South Africa – Wild Cat Sanctuary

Spend your days working with Africa’s beautiful big cats and learn all about the conservation efforts that are being put into place to protect and rehabilitate these beautiful creatures that were rescued from captivity. The sanctuary is also a safe haven for animals that cannot be released into the wild, due to their captive upbringing.

Program Highlights:

  • Protect and rehabilitate various African wild cats
  • Live right in the middle of the sanctuary, surrounded by the cat enclosures
  • Be part of a team that aims to rehabilitate and release the animals that it takes in
  • Learn about wild cats from experienced keepers and through your daily tasks and conservation efforts
  • Join night game drives with other volunteers or go on an authentic African safari


Your Schedule at a Glance (Minimum one-week commitment, plus two day orientation):

Arrival Day, Saturday: Arrive at O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB). You will be picked up from the airport and taken to your hostel accommodation in Johannesburg. After you are settled in and given an introduction to the area and where all the lockers, shops, stores and exciting places to go are, you have the rest of the day for yourself. The hostel has a pool, bar, free Wi-Fi and is close to the JNB version of Long Street. Stay the night in dormitory accommodation. Upgrades available upon request.

Day 1, Sunday: Enjoy a walking tour of Johannesburg and spend some time getting used to the African way of life. Your Tour will take you to all the must-see places in Johannesburg which may include Soccer City, Orlando Towers, Constitution Hill, Maboneng Precinct and more!

Day 2, Monday: Either fly or take a shuttle to Kimberley. Note the shuttle is included in the program fee and is about 4-5 hours in one direction. Volunteers can choose to fly at their own costs to Kimberly instead and will receive all relevant airport transfers. Once you have arrived on the project site, you will be given an introductory tour of the sanctuary and its animals.

Days 3-8, Tuesday-Sunday: After an early breakfast and briefing with the team leader, you will spend the day doing daily chores or working on projects. Daily chores include cleaning the enclosures, participating in enrichment activities with the cats, preparing and feeding the animals, etc. Projects depend on the needs of the sanctuary and its animals, and thus vary. Tasks may include building and repairing enclosures, assisting with tours and much more.

Day 9, Monday: Departure day for volunteers only staying one week. Departing volunteers will be taken by bus either to the Johannesburg airport or to the city center of Johannesburg. Free day for volunteers extending.

Remaining Weeks: The remaining weeks will follow a similar schedule of volunteering Saturday-Thursday and having a day off on Friday. You will have the opportunity to go into town and explore the local area or you can take the day to go on a tour of nearby attractions such as the Mokala National Park. Departures are on a Monday.


Location icon Location of the Project: Free State, South Africa

Project length Project length: Min 1 week – Max 12 weeks (Minimum stay is technically 9 days – 2 day orientation + 1 week of volunteering)

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work: Animal welfare and community education

Age Age:  18-80

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Up to 25 International volunteers

Important Note Important Note: Hands-on interaction with the cats is not permitted.


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Shared room in a volunteer house

Food Food: Three meals per day

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers: Included on arrival and departure days

Orientation Orientation: Two-day orientation in Johannesburg provided upon arrival that includes tours of the area and encourages volunteers to get to know one another before the project begins.

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, personal expenses

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 birdwatching, with over 186 species in the area, as well as a popular destination for fly-fishing.


As a volunteer on this project, your main tasks will be promoting the health and welfare of all the animals living on the grounds. You will work with a variety of animals including 42 predators and two monkeys – the predators include: 4 cheetahs, 20 lions, 4 caracals, 2 servals, 1 African wild cat, 2 black-backed jackals, and 9 bat-eared foxes. You will be taught how to care for each animal, as they all have different needs.

Some of your tasks may include:

  • Preparing food and feeding the animals
  • Cleaning enclosures
  • Building, expanding and repairing enclosures
  • Grounds maintenance
  • 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 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.

Internet icon Internet: Volunteers will receive a voucher for 50 MB of data for their personal phones. Additional WiFi is available for a small fee.

Laundry icon Laundry: All volunteers will receive one laundry load voucher. Additional laundry services are available for a small fee.

Accommodations icon Accommodations: 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 icon 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.


Please take note of this project’s 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

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.

Arrival and Orientation (Included):
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.


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