South Africa – Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

Gain vast experience in animal care as you volunteer at a world renowned wildlife rehabilitation center in South Africa! This program is open to all volunteers, including veterinarians and vet students.


Program Highlights:

  • Gain experience working with a wide variety of African wildlife species, including eagles, vultures, leopards, wild dogs and honey badgers
  • Learn new career skills from experienced wildlife rehabilitation professionals
  • Attend educational talks on conservation, wildlife rehabilitation and raising wild orphans
  • View and assist with animals admitted to the rehabilitation clinic while learning about the rehabilitation process for all different species
  • Provide care to orphaned animals during baby season, which is November-March (subject to availability)
  • Join in rescue and release efforts of injured and rehabilitated animals when possible
  • Improve the lives of those animals who cannot be released through various enrichment activities


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

Arrival Day, Monday: Arrive at Eastgate Airport (HDS), Hoedspruit. You will be picked up at the airport and taken to your accommodation at the wildlife rehabilitation center. Enjoy an educational tour through the rehab and an introduction talk from your volunteer coordinator about volunteer life at the rehab.

Day 1: Join your fellow volunteers for an early start of training on how to care for your allocated animals. Attend an educational conservation talk with the staff of the rehab centre, teaching you about the conservation efforts by the rehab in South Africa and why there is a need for these centres.

Days 2-5: Armed with the knowledge of what is expected from you during your stay, you start with rewarding animal care jobs alongside your fellow volunteers and staff members. Morning rounds are allocated for enclosure clean-up, daily health checks before enjoying a cooked breakfast. Big predator camps are then attended to under direct supervision of staff. A buffet style lunch is then enjoyed in the common room where you will then have a chance to recharge, explore the rehab grounds and take some great photos. Afternoons are filled with fun educational activities at the rehab. Evening rounds are reserved for feeding all of your allocated animals before deep cleaning the clinic and meat room area in preparation for the next day’s tasks.

Day 6: Sundays are free for volunteers to relax after some basic chores.
Outside excursions and day trips are arranged for Sundays to surrounding areas. Please keep in mind they are strongly depend on the present needs of the animals at the centre.

Remaining Weeks: Remaining weeks will follow the schedule of volunteering Monday-Saturday and having Sundays mostly free. Departures are on Monday.


Location icon Location of the Project: 33 kilometers from Hoedspruit, Limpopo Province. Just a short drive from the Kruger National Park.

Project length Project length: Minimum 2 weeks – Maximum 8 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Eastgate Airport (HDS), Hoedspruit

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work: Daily cleaning of animal enclosures, food preparation and feeding of allocated animals and maintenance work

Age Age:  18-80, ages 17 are welcome with signed parental concent

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Up to 20 international volunteers

Important Note Important Note: There is limited availability from June through August. Please inquire before registration.


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Volunteers will stay in shared rooms.

Food Food: Three meals per day are included.

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

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. Day trips and excursions.
Meals and drinks when visiting restaurants.

The rehabilitation centre is at the foot of the Drakensberg Mountains, 33km outside of Hoedspruit town between the Kruger National Park and the Blyde River Canyon.
This small town is one of South Africa’s major eco-tourist destinations to visit game lodges and nature reserves. The countryside rich in game and open spaces is an adventure and wildlife lovers’ paradise. It is surrounded by the largest conservation area in the world and specialises in mango and citrus fruit production.

This center is a non-profit organization, open to the public and relying entirely on public support. Project Volunteers will be involved in many aspects of conservation and animal care under professional supervision. Wildlife is brought to the center from all corners of South Africa, and once healthy enough, are reintroduced into their natural habitats. Those animals that cannot be returned to the wild due to the nature or extent of their injuries are cared for at the center and become ambassador animals, used to educate the many people who visit us each year, both from across South Africa and abroad. Another important function of the center is breeding. The center has successfully bred and released into the wild the endangered crowned eagle, serval and many others.

Volunteers will be involved in many aspects of conservation and animal care. They will also work and live with volunteers and professional staff from around the world. If a volunteer wants to increase his or her chance to see baby animals, we recommend they come from November-March, which is our baby season.

Some of your tasks may include:

  • Hand-nurturing of orphaned animals from cheetah cubs, to birds, to warthogs
  • The care and welfare of the permanent residents who, due to the nature of their injuries, cannot be released back into the wild
  • Daily cleaning of animal enclosures, scrubbing their bed mats and feeding the animals
  • The treatment and care of sick and injured animals
  • Assisting with the upkeep of the center such as road maintenance, removal of alien vegetation, etc.
  • Attending call-outs to capture animals for relocation or to be brought into the center for treatment. This may be by darting or humane trapping.
  • Wildlife veterinary work, which would be mostly observational
  • Game capture and relocation when appropriate
  • Working hours are usually from 7:00 AM until 5:00 PM and volunteers are expected to help whenever necessary.


Please note that, due to the nature of rehabilitation work, nothing is predictable or guaranteed, including which types of animals are at the center at any given time.

Internet icon Internet: WiFi access at the volunteer common room.

Laundry icon Laundry: A laundry service is available.

Accommodations icon Accommodations: Shared, single-gender accommodations are provided in a comfortable, brick bungalow. Rooms are shared with two to six volunteers. There are shared bathrooms with a hot shower and flushing toilets, as well as a large kitchen and living area. Linens and warm blankets are provided, but please bring your own towel.

Food icon Food: Three meals per day are provided and enjoyed in the volunteer common room. Once a week volunteers go out for dinner to a local restaurant, at own expense to volunteer. This is optional and if you do not want to join, you can notify the coordinator who will arrange a meal at the lodge.


Please note of this project’s minimum requirements:

  • Basic level of English
  • Good physical fitness
  • Motivation to work with animals
  • Immunizations (please consult your doctor)
  • Rabies vaccination is strongly recommended due to the nature of the work at the center

Volunteers are taken once a week to explore the beautiful Hoedspruit town and visit shops.

Quiet time is on Sundays, and although volunteers still tend to the feeding of all the animals, there is ample relaxation time. If volunteers want to get active, educational trips can be organized to nearby attractions, such as Blyde Reserve and Waterfall Hike, Blyde Canyon Boat trip, Hoedspruit Reptile Park and Kruger National Park.

Excursions are booked and paid for while on the program, subject to availability, weather, and the number of volunteers interested.


Volunteer Experiences

Want to join this program?