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Look after animals at the South Africa Wildlife Sanctuary

Love wildlife? Want to volunteer in a stunning location where you’ll be really close to nature? By volunteering at the South Africa Wildlife Sanctuary, based near Cape Town, you’ll experience the opportunity of a lifetime and have the chance to make a difference to the lives of many beautiful animals. 


At a glance:

Volunteering with wildlife in a sanctuary in South Africa

Accommodation: Shared volunteer tents with electricity

Meals: x3 varied and delicious meals a day included

Dates: Starts on a Tuesday every week

Minimum stay: 2 weeks - stay up to 12 weeks


What animals will I look after? 

Because the sanctuary release and/or relocate animals whenever possible, the animals at the sanctuary will vary at any given time, but may include carnivores such as Jackals, Lions and Caracals; birds such as Peacocks and Birds of Prey; Antelope such as Oryx (gemsbok), Springbok, Nyala, Grey Rhee buck and Kudu; small mammals such as Meerkats, Rock dassies, Mongoose, Genets and Bush pigs as well as a host of other species and farm animals.

At the moment (2018) there are 3 Lions, 3 Hippo, 2 Rhino, 25 Giraffe, 7 Zebra, 7 Buffalos, 150 Springboks, 35 Eland, about 10 Koedoes (they jump the fences), and 15 Meerkats.
Altogether there are 23 animal species at the Sanctuary. They also have three full grown Elephants who were orphaned at birth and raised by humans, who are very friendly! 

About the Wildlife Sanctuary

The South Africa Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the most stunning location - looking out towards amazing mountains and overlooking a huge dam (with hippos) and African bushveld. The animals arrive in need of rescue, rehabilitation and sometimes permanent captive care, and the Sanctuary provides a safe haven for animals in need. Volunteers come from all backgrounds and nationalities, with varied familiarity of animals and wildlife, from absolutely no experience, to those with a professional background in veterinary or conservation science. All you need is a love of animals and conservation!

What will I be doing at The Wildlife Sanctuary?

As a volunteer at the Wildlife Sanctuary you will provide an important resource in caring for and feeding the animals on a daily basis, as well as helping to maintain and develop the program. As a Sanctuary volunteer you should be ready to be actively involved in the day-to-day activities which support the program.

Volunteer activities are carried out in a rotational group system to ensure that everybody gets exposed to the variety of experiences available.

Possible tasks as a Wildlife Conservation Volunteer include:

  • Preparing food and feeding the wildlife.
  • Cleaning and maintaining enclosures.
  • Providing enrichment to the animals in the form of interaction, walks in the bush or implementation of special activities for them.
  • Providing intensive care for juvenile wildlife, including overnight care for some animals.
  • Physical labour such as building new facilities.
  • Research which may include the monitoring of free-ranging animals in the area, analysing camera traps and GPS data.
  • Time in the environment such as tracking & monitoring a variety of animals species (and sometimes snakes!) on or near property and game counts in the bush.
  • Assisting with the various projects that arise at the Sanctuary

Food Preparation & Enclosure Cleaning

A vital part of the day-to-day running of the Sanctuary involves preparing food for and feeding the animals, as well as cleaning and maintaining the animals’ enclosures and housing. This can be a very messy but satisfying part of your day, as you’re ensuring the nutritional needs of each animal are met while also checking up on their health and happiness while cleaning their enclosures. You’ll be handling fruits, vegetables, meats and lucerne-based meal among other things to help prepare the meals needed for all of the animals.

Carnivore Feed

As a volunteer, the time spent feeding our carnivores is a very important and always enjoyable part of your day. During this activity, you will get to see and possibly assist in the feeding of our Lions. This coordinator-led activity is also the best time for you to take pictures of our amazing animals. You will also learn about the animals’ backgrounds, including the difficulties faced in trying to manage the human-wildlife conflict.

Up close and personal

One of the most special parts of this program is the chance to interact hands-on with the Sanctuary's three elephants, affectionately called their ‘Gentle Giants’. They were orphaned in Kruger when their parents were poached so had to be hand reared by humans - and so are very friendly.

The Sanctuary did not choose this life for them but they chose to give them the best possible life within their means with the best possible love and care. They have in fact given them a much better life and saved their lives, protecting them from poachers and predators. 

At the the Sanctuary, they roam freely and interact with other animals and humans - which they love. You'll get to walk with them around the reserve and have your photo taken while hand feeding them. 

Special care

Depending on the needs of each animal at the time of your arrival, sometimes our youngest animals need to be “babysat” and provided extra attention while other animals require quiet observation and company. With orphaned and injured animals arriving throughout the year, you never know who may be in need of some extra tender loving care!

It is always important to remember that, while some animals are approachable, they are all wild animals at heart and thus it is important to always respect their boundaries. It is therefore essential to listen to any staff members accompanying you and who will provide you with the best practices for interactions.

Hands-on Project Work

You’ll get involved in lots of projects during your time at the sanctuary, and is an important part of running the sanctuary. Project work can range from easy and fun jobs to heavier labour that involves work with tools, lifting and more. 

Some of the projects completed in the past with the assistance of our volunteers included:

  • Digging water holes for enclosures
  • Making and decorating new toys for the Elephant enclosure
  • Digging holes and putting up fences for enclosures 
  • Painting enclosures
  • Fence Patrolling



Research is a vital part of the work in this volunteer program, and the Sanctuary offers you a chance to be a part of it through a variety of activities. Setting camera traps, analysing the data, and conducting game counts are common activities for the research group. The information gathered on game counts and from camera traps helps staff and owners to understand the health, movement and behaviour of our animals at the sanctuary and is also a great way to see the whole reserve.


Your accommodation at the Wildlife Sanctuary will look something like this:

  • You’ll share a large volunteer tent with up to four people (same gender) sharing each room (same gender or a couple). 
  • The rooms and tents are basic but the single beds are comfortable with bedding provided (duvets and pillows).
  • Showers and toilet facilities are en-suite and hot water is supplied by gas geysers. 


Three meals are provided by the volunteers with assistants of a staff member:
  • Breakfast includes toast and cereal
  • Lunch includes pasta, wraps, burgers or stir-fry
  • Evening Dinners include meat, fish and vegetables with rice, potatoes or pasta
  • On weekends there is often a braai (BBQ). 
  • Please advise us of any special dietary requirements at the time of booking.


  • There is a small shop at the main office which offers a variety of chocolate, crisps, snacks bars, cigarettes as well as a range of general merchandise. The shop is generally open from 17:00 until 18:00 daily and accepts cash only (South African Rand). 
  • There is also a clothing range available for purchase in the Lodge reception area.
  • Cash and Credit Card are accepted at the lodge for clothing, add-ons (such as an evening, lunch or activities and excursions (such as Sunday town trips and Safari tours).



Yes, there is Wi-Fi access at the volunteer camp so you can make your friends back home jealous!  


Weekend Activities

Weekends at the Sanctuary usually involves a Saturday activity that can vary from paintball, a nature walk through the reserve, a “boere sport” competition, volleyball, or challenges and quizzes with fellow colleagues and volunteers. You will also be able to enjoy the activities in the surrounding area such as Zip lining, Cango Caves, the Ostrich Farm and Wine Tasting at Karusa Wine Cellars. 

Evenings involve a braai (BBQ) and time to socialise and relax together. On Sundays you may have the option to visit Oudtshoorn or spend some time at the Sanctuary's luxury lodge for the day.



The area of the wildlife sanctuary has a semi-desert climate, with very hot summers and very cold winters and temperatures tending to drop at night. On average, the wildlife sanctuary area receives about 300 days of sunshine per year.

  • Summer is from October to April, where temperatures can reach 45C and plummet at night to below 0 degrees so bring a fleece or extra clothing. 
  • Average daily temperatures range from 20C to 34C. 
  • Rainfall usually occurs between April and August.
  • Winter is from May to August with wonderful warm days which are contrasted by very cold nights, when temperatures often drop to below freezing, so please bring warm clothing and a sleeping bag. 
  • Average temperatures range from -2°C to 25°C.


What's Included?

  • Transfer from the local airport on Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • Transfer to the local airport on your departure day
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Tea and coffee
  • Arrival orientation
  • Full support and assistance from your programme coordinator


What you need to budget for
  • Flights and Insurance (we can help arrange these)
  • Visa application costs (we can help you with this)
  • Any souvenirs, gifts, clothing, merchandise etc
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Optional extra activities

Check out the prices and project lengths

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Want more adventures in South Africa?

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