If you want to help take care of rescued big cats in an ethical way, this is your chance to give them back a piece of their lost pride. 

The project

This big cat project in South Africa is one of the few places that can be considered a true sanctuary for big cats. Lions, leopards and panthers are all too often bred, sold, hunted and killed in the highly contested hunting and breeding farms of South Africa. Travel to Grow opposes these institutions and does not send volunteers to any projects where these practices take place. As a result, this big cat project does not allow the handling of cubs or hands-on interaction with big cats. Instead, the project gives rescued big cats an opportunity to live the very best life possible, as close to nature as their circumstances allow.

At this project, big cats including lions, tigers, panthers, caracals and jackals are rescued from trophy hunting organisations, the bone trade and zoos. As many of these big cats grew up in captivity, it’s not possible to release most of them back into the wild, as they would not be able to take care of themselves. Instead, the project aims to give each animal a ‘forever home’ with activities that enrich their lives. Volunteers play an important role in providing the best care possible for these big cats, while educating visitors about the plight of big cats such as these.

As a volunteer at this big cat sanctuary, you’ll take on a variety of tasks each day to help the smooth running of the project. This includes preparing the meals for the big cats, making enriching toys for the animals, cleaning and maintaining enclosures, general farm work and assisting with educational visits. Much of the work is quite physical, but the wonderful surroundings of the sanctuary and the vibrant team of people means there’s never a dull moment.

Location

GansBay, Western Cape, South Africa.

Voluntary work

Preparing food and feeding the animals, cleaning the enclosures, building enclosures, analysing animal behaviour, making toys for the animals, general farm work and helping with educational visits.

Programme starts

Saturdays.

Volunteering hours

At least five hours a day with a break during the hottest part of the day. Tuesday and Sunday afternoons off.

Requirements

Minimum age 18, ability to speak English, travel insurance.

Accommodation

Shared room and bathroom between two people on the sanctuary grounds.

Food

Breakfast items are provided to make your own breakfast, and a cooked vegetarian lunch is provided too. You must buy the food and cook your own dinner using a shared kitchen or barbecue.

Airport pickup

At Cape Town International Airport (CPT) on specified arrival date – let us know if you want to arrive early.

Donation to the project

Included in the rate.

Training

In-country orientation, briefing at the project.

Support

Pre-departure information, local in-country support and 24 hour emergency support.

Return transfer

To downtown Cape Town or the airport on specified departure date.

In addition, you need to arrange:

  • Flights to Cape Town
  • Travel insurance (necessary)
  • Vaccinations (please contact your GP or a travel medical clinic)
  • Visa (can be purchased on arrival at the airport)
  • Travel to and from the project
  • Any recreational activities.

Starts from €1,170.

Duration

2 to 12 weeks.

This is a volunteering experience for those who want to help big cats in the right way. For anyone who loves animals and is passionate about conservation matters, this project delivers a great deal of satisfaction. Volunteers have Tuesday and Sunday afternoons off to explore the local area. An organised excursion with the group takes place every Tuesday afternoon, while on Sunday afternoons there are activities such as hiking, whale watching and shark cage diving available to do locally.

Volunteers stay together in shared accommodation, with up to two people sharing a room and a bathroom. While volunteers are given food for breakfast and a cooked vegetarian lunch each day, you’re free to use the kitchen facilities or barbecue (‘braai’) to cook your evening meal. In your free time, you can also make use of the swimming pool, peaceful garden and TV/lounge area. You’ll fall asleep to the call of the jackals and wake up to the chorus of lions.

It’s easy to fall in love with the rhythm of life at this big cat sanctuary – helping rescued big cats in an ethical way, while enjoying a slice of South African heaven.