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Friends of Free Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Volunteer Project - South Africa

Suburban wildlife is in crisis in South Africa!

Free Wildlife is a rehabilitation centre for indigenous wildlife based in just north of Johannesburg. The Non Profit Organisation was registered in May 2016. After 3 months of alterations a stable block was converted into a well planned wildlife centre. The operational permit issued by GDARD was received on 15th December and FFW was officially launched.

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Each year a great many birds, mammals and reptiles become orphaned, sick or suffer injuries. Most veterinarians do not have facilities to cater for wildlife leaving caring members of the public with very few options. With the recent demise of a well known rehabilitation centre it was imperative to start a new centre for these animals. The public can now bring wildlife to FFW for specialised treatment, care and rehabilitation until they can be released. When wildlife is threatened by fire, flooding, storms or other disasters volunteers may travel to a locality to rescue and assist wildlife.



Free Wildlife strives to promote a responsible attitude to wildlife and the environment through education programs and they advise the public on wildlife rescues and issues. 

All indigenous wildlife is accepted and every creature, big or small, receives specialised care. 

Free Wildlife is a self-funded registered non-profit organisation, relying solely on the generosity of the public through donations, bequests, sponsorship and voluntary assistance in all aspects.


Project Overview

  • Volunteers start with a short Orientation Course, the same course that all the volunteers there attend, this is mandatory; it gives a history and background to the Centre and an overview of what they do.
  • You will then continue with a Basic Kitchen Course to enable you to learn the basics of food preparation and animal nutrition, feeding techniques, diets, cage hygiene and enrichment etc. You may also be involved with maintenance activities, administration duties around the centre.
  • The Clinic Course takes you to the next level of training and you will learn about handling with care different species and hand feeding, depending on your previous experience and abilities other aspects of feeding may be taught.
  • Free Wildlife works with many local veterinarians and other wildlife professionals, and there are opportunities for volunteers to spend time with these people to learn more. This is not guaranteed as it is based on the wildlife at the Centre and their individual needs.

All volunteers will receive a certificate of attendance from The Friends of Free Wildlife Centre. If you participate in additional courses you shall also receive certification for each individual course to add to your CV. 


Volunteer Hours

Volunteers will be dropped off at the centre by 08:00 and collect between 15:30 and 16:00. This will be Sunday – Thursday however is subject to change upon requirements and special events / courses by the centre. There will generally be 2 days off in a 7-day period unless special arrangements have been made prior.

*** Depending on the time spent at Friends of Free you will become familiar with the work and may progress to assisting the Centre Manager, and more experienced volunteers in the clinic.

Each day brings in new cases and there are opportunities to also accompany FFW volunteers to our vets and also on a release. This may be small mammals such as terrapins, hedgehogs and different birds***

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Courses offered – dependent on experience and time at program

Clinic Skills

  • Clinical evaluation of basic treatment
  • Physical evaluation, body condition, hydration, presence of wound etc.) 
  • Discussion of drug choices and different treatment options
  • Animal First Aid

Specialised courses

  • Bats: The baby bat season is generally from early November through till February, March. The centre receives over 100 baby bats each year and the intensive feeding they require also needs a specialised course. The “Bat Moms” all receive a refresher course which will take place at the FFW Centre and take approximately 4-5 hours. The course includes how to handle bats, feeding protocols and releases.
  • Swifts: This is a new course given by an experienced volunteer who has concentrated swifts and swallows. These little birds require very delicate handling and a special diet.
  • Tortoises: One of our volunteers has been dealing with tortoises for many years. This course will include identification, feeding, ailments and the very real problem of the pet trade.
  • Ringing\banding birds: volunteers may be interested in watching some of our birds ringed, although we cannot off this as a course it is a very interesting part of wildlife rehabilitation, especially for endangered species.


Tasks and Duties:

  • Daily cleaning and maintenance of enclosures and facilities
  • Daily food preparation and feeding of wildlife
  • Daily admin duties and assisting with data input, reception
  • Education, school talks
  • Accompanying staff to the vet with any medical cases
  • Assisting in the rescue, collection or release procedures [when required]
  • Daily medicating of sick or injured wildlife in the clinic [only once training has been completed]

Typical Wildlife that may be admitted 

  • Reptiles: Snakes, Tortoises, Monitor Lizards, Crocodiles, Terrapin
  • Mammals: Hedgehogs, Dassie, Porcupine, Jackal, Bats, Mongoose, Genets,
  • Antelope: Duiker, Springbok, Steenbok
  • Birds: Garden birds including sparrows, thrushes, hoopoes, hadedas, finches, barbets, also
    owls, falcons, Secretary Birds, storks. Rarely vultures.


Accommodation, Meal & Transfers:

Elements hostel, located in Rosebank, will be the base for participants on this program. We shall arrange transportation to and from the centre on the relevant days as well as provide the 3 main meals of the day. Breakfast, Dinner and packed lunch.
Rooms are dorm style with En-suite bathrooms for privacy. Communal dining and entertainment area with Wi-Fi access. There are dogs on property during the day and there is a honesty bar available for local beverage purchases.
The Rosebank Mall, Gautrain Station, Rosebank Mediclinic and police station are all safe walking distance from the hostel.

Characteristics of Participants for Free Wildlife:

  • A love for wildlife
  • Involvement in a relevant or associated field is advantageous; great opportunity for vet related studies, ecologists, natural biology and environmental studies.
  • Willingness to get involved in all areas of the Centre
  • Free Wildlife has a strong ethical code, volunteers are expected to respect decisions made – including potential euthanasia
  • Free wildlife has the option to remove volunteers from property should they not abide by the rules and regulations set out by the centre


  • Personal First Aid Kit and any regular medication
  • Plug adaptor
  • Hat, towel, sun cream and water bottle
  • Insect repellent
  • Recent Tetanus Vaccine
  • Highly recommended to have Rabies Vaccine as well [3 shots]
  • A 4 week stay is preferred so you can learn all aspects of the centre. Less can be possible. 
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