If you love animals then you’ll be right at home among like-minded people at this animal sanctuary for injured and orphaned wildlife in South Africa.

The project

The sanctuary started out more than 20 years ago as the animal-loving owner rehabilitated orphaned animals and birds when they had no-one else to go to. Today, the sanctuary is home to hundreds of animals and 300 species of birds. Although each has a sad history, the animal sanctuary has given them all a happy present day – and you can be a part of making their future even better.

Volunteers are absolutely vital to this project and the wellbeing of the animals. No animal is turned away here and more injured and orphaned wildlife arrives every week. Even after the animals are nursed back to health, not all are able to return to the wild, so find a permanent home here. If you want to make a real difference to wildlife in South Africa and aren’t afraid of getting stuck in, then this will be the volunteering trip of a lifetime for you.

As a volunteer at this wildlife sanctuary, you’ll be pitching in with whatever needs doing to help keep the animals safe and healthy, and the sanctuary as a whole thriving.

This involves everything from preparing the animals’ twice daily feeds, feeding them and cleaning their cages, to maintenance work on the sanctuary’s game farm, building new enclosures and assisting visitors in the sanctuary’s small shop and café. Volunteers are encouraged to have as much hands-on experience with the animals as possible and there are plenty to choose from here, including cheetahs, lynx, marmosets, squirrel monkeys, wallabies, meerkats, macaws, crocodiles and emu…to name but a few.

The sanctuary also runs an endangered cat breeding programme, so you may also help out with bottle-feeding newborn lynx, cheetah and serval kittens. November and December is baby season, when volunteers are needed more than ever.

Location

Thornhill, near Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Voluntary work

Feeding and caring for the animals, maintenance work in the rescue centre and in the game park, helping visitors of the centre.

Programme start

First or third Monday of each month.

Volunteering hours

5 days a week, with free evenings.

Requirements

Minimum age 16, good English, travel insurance.

Accommodation

Shared room on the wildlife centre’s grounds.

Food

All meals included.

Airport pickup

Pickup at Port Elizabeth airport included 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 animal rescue project.

Support

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

In addition, you need to arrange:

Flights to Port Elizabeth
Travel insurance (necessary)
Vaccinations (please contact your GP or a travel medical clinic)
Visa (can be purchased on arrival at the airport)
Any recreational activities
Return transfer to the airport

Starts from €795.

Duration

1 to 12 weeks.

This wildlife sanctuary is a real home away from home. Volunteers feel such a sense of belonging and friendship at the wildlife sanctuary that they often don’t want to leave – the sanctuary has many returning volunteers as a result. You’ll live on-site in dormitory accommodation and all meals are included in your stay. Volunteers tend to like to treat themselves to a takeaway or dinner and a movie once a week in Port Elizabeth.

Surrounded by a 1,000 hectare game park which is home to zebra, giraffe, a number of antelope species and vervet monkeys, this is truly the place to live and breathe wildlife. The location is both remote but accessible, and on your two free days each week there’s plenty to explore in the surrounding areas, from the surfing mecca of Jeffreys Bay and the nearby elephant sanctuary where you can ride an elephant, to the world’s highest bungee jump, canopy tours through Tsitsikamma National Park and skydiving in Plettenburg Bay.