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

Are you a caring person? Do you love all kinds of animals? Then this volunteer project is for you! At the Free Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation centre in South Africa, you’ll care for a wide range of indigenous wildlife, including bats, antelopes, snakes, owls, jackals, terrapins and many more!

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At a glance:

Care for orphaned and sick animals in South Africa

Accommodation: Shared hostel close to project

Meals: x3 meals provided, including a packed lunch

Dates: 1st & 3rd Tuesday of each month

Minimum stay: 14 days plus orientation of 3 days 


What animals will I look after? 

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 centre and take approximately 4-5 hours. The course includes how to handle bats, feeding protocols and releases.

Swifts: Looking after swifts 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.

But that’s not all! 

Typical wildlife that may be admitted to the centre include:

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.

About the Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre

Free Wildlife is a rehabilitation centre for indigenous wildlife based in just north of Johannesburg. Each year lots of a great many birds, mammals and reptiles become orphaned, sick or suffer injuries. Most veterinarians do not have the facilities to cater for wildlife leaving caring members of the public with very few options. The public bring wildlife to the centre for 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 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.


What will I be doing at The Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre?

  • Volunteers start with a mandatory short Orientation Course which gives a history and background to the Centre and an overview of what they do.
  • Next, you will undertake 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 or resume. 

Courses offered – dependent on experience and time at program:

  • 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

Tasks you’ll be involved in include:

  • 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]

Volunteer Hours

  • Volunteers will be dropped off at the centre by 08:00 and collected between 15:30 and 16:00. 
  • This will be Sunday – Thursday however is subject to change upon requirements and special events / courses run 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 Wildlife you will become familiar with the work and may progress to assisting the Centre Manager, and more experienced volunteers in the clinic.


  • Volunteers will stay at the 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.
  • Rooms are dorm style with En-suite bathrooms for privacy
  • There is a communal dining area and entertainment area with Wi-Fi access available.
  • 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.


  • Breakfast, Dinner and packed lunch are provided 

What is needed:

  • A love for wildlife
  • Involvement in a relevant or associated field is advantageous; a 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 Vaccination
  • It's highly recommended to have Rabies Vaccine as well. Check out our vaccination guide.
  • A 4 week stay is preferred so you can learn all aspects of the centre. Less can be possible.

Check out the prices and project lengths

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