Volunteer with lions in South Africa
Volunteer with over 90 big cats, including lions, tigers, cheetahs and leopards, at South Africa’s largest big cat sanctuary. Many of these animals came from zoos, circuses or even private ownership, having being subjected to a lifetime of neglect and at times abuse. Your contribution as a volunteer will help to give these big cats the care and freedom that they deserve, living a life as close to the wild as possible.
Volunteer in South Africa’s largest big cat sanctuary, LIONSROCK, run by the international animal charity FOUR PAWS. Rescued from appalling conditions in poor quality zoos or canned hunting farms, the freedom that the lions experience arriving at LIONSROCK is something that they will never before have tasted. For many, it is the first time that they can properly stretch their limbs and feel grass under their feet.
You will be helping with important research and enrichment, much of which is aimed at further improving conditions for the big cats and encouraging their natural instincts. This, combined with its excellent rescue and rehabilitation work, makes LIONSROCK an inspiring place for those wanting to get involved in animal welfare.
The perfect candidate for volunteering at LIONSROCK is someone with experience of working with animals or a study background such as biology, zoology, animal management or veterinary science. As a minimum requirement, you will need to be passionate about animal welfare and have life experience that will help you to hit the ground running.
What will I be doing?
Work at the sanctuary involves caring for the lions and other big cats, monitoring their progress and behaviour, helping with visitor education and refreshments, administration and maintenance work. Typical tasks include:
- helping out with the bi-weekly sanctuary feeding
- observing the behaviour of the lions and the progress of any new arrivals
- helping with any medical treatments required
- building new structures for enclosures and helping with maintenance work
- getting involved with the other activities at the lodge, such as the reservation department, accommodation, conferences, weddings, hiking trails and more
- marketing activity, including brochure distribution to local towns and the surrounding area
- guiding school children as part of their education program
It’s a great opportunity for someone who has a keen interest in big cats, enjoys being part of a team and is prepared to get involved in all aspects of conservation work.
Accommodation and Food
You stay in comfortable accommodation located at the heart of the sanctuary with other volunteers and some staff. The house boasts wifi, electric blankets on the beds, a fully equipped kitchen and bathroom, as well as stunning views out over the sanctuary. There is plenty of space to relax, cook a good South African braai and swim in the on-site swimming pool. If you don’t fancy cooking, you can enjoy discounts at the LIONSROCK lodge restaurant.
When should I book?
Whilst late-availability is possible, we would advise booking as soon as you can to guarantee your ideal dates. Our projects are very popular and spaces can fill up several months in advance, especially for the months of June to September.
- Become part of an international charity’s effort to improve the welfare of abused animals worldwide, and make an essential contribution to the rehabilitation of big cats in South Africa.
- Gain a practical insight into animal welfare and animal management – perfect for those looking for some experience alongside their studies.
- Live on site alongside the lions, tigers, cheetahs and leopards.
- Enjoy being surrounded by some of South Africa’s most beautiful countryside, with spectacular mountain views and the rolling savannah below.
- Experience a stunning South African sunset from the top of LIONSROCK Mountain, or overlooking the sanctuary itself.
Whyshould I do this?
Volunteering at LIONSROCK is an amazing opportunity, whether it be to improve your knowledge of animal welfare and conservation, to gain work experience or to give something back. This project is especially beneficial to people who have knowledge and / or experience of animal care, animal management, conservation, biology, veterinary care or zoology. In turn, people with this knowledge and / or experience can be of most benefit to LIONSROCK.
Over 90 big cats at this inspiring sanctuary need the help of humans to enjoy their new lives in safety. Volunteers with independence, initiative, knowledge and experience can make a genuine and lasting contribution.
You fly in to Johannesburg (JNB) on a Monday, where you will be met and taken up to the sanctuary. The drive is three hours long through beautiful South African scenery- look out for the wildlife!
You will work as part of the team at LIONSROCK and will soon get to know them all. The Head of Animal Management will be a key contact, but you will but will also find yourself working with the General Manager and the Lodge Team. The admin staff and rangers at the sanctuary provide an extra layer of training and support, meaning that you will soon feel part of the larger LIONSROCK family.
What is provided
- Phone or face-to-face interview and detailed briefing
- Access to your personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the programme and manage your booking.
- Advice on visa requirements
- Help and advice from our UK office before departure and whilst away
- Access to the outdoor swimming pool located at the sanctuary
- Wifi, TV, DVD player and much more to help you make yourself at home
- Being met at Johannesburg airport and taken to your accommodation
- Weekly trips into town for shopping
- Return transport to the airport in time for your flight
- Oyster Worldwide volunteer t-shirt
- Oyster luggage tag
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
What do I need
- A passport valid for a minimum of 30 days after your return date
- Insurance – we can introduce you to a policy
- Pocket money – eating out, trips etc
- Money for food- we recommend a budget of £30 – £50 per week
- Warm outdoor clothing for the evenings
- Funds for any independent travel
- Flights to Johannesburg (JNB). We can help organise these.
- Some experience and passion for animal welfare!
- An up to date CV/ resume