Volunteer at an animal sanctuary giving hands-on assistance with a variety of exotic and indigenous animals and birds that are in captivity and non-releasable due to various factors like past injuries, ex-pets, human habituation and the fact that they are not naturally indigenous to the area.
|All year around, Monday to Friday
|2 weeks and longer subject to visa requirements. A minimum age of 16 years old if unaccompanied and 14 years if accompanied by a parent or guardian.
|£720 for 2 weeks and £320 for each additional week
|What is included
|3 meals a day, accommodation, meeting you at the airport, airport collection and drop-off, pre-departure support, in-country staff, 24- emergency help and more.
|What is not included
|Flights, visas, travel insurance, spending money.
|Gappers, career breakers, families, post-retirement gappers, animal lovers, nature lovers, volunteers who like to get hands-on.
As the animal sanctuary is very large, there is always a very wide variety of areas that you could be involved in. When you volunteer at an Animal Sanctuary, volunteers are expected to help together as a team and the duties are very rewarding with a lot of time to spend special moments with the animals too. Volunteers team up in groups to accomplish the twice daily feeding routes. You will help 5 days on with 2 days off which allows you time to explore the beautiful beaches of nearby Jeffreys Bay, South Africa’s surfing capital, wildlife reserves and the many other activities in the area or hike the adjoining nature reserve to bird watch or do some wildlife viewing of the giraffe, zebra and other antelopes that roam freely.
Currently there are roughly 250 different species of birds of which there are hundreds including Ostrich, Emu, Hawks, Owls, Black Eagles, Pygmy Falcons, Blue and Crowned Cranes, Secretary bird, Macaws, African Greys, Cockatoos, Amazon parrots plus LOTS of other parrots and garden birds!
Also, between the sanctuary and adjoining nature reserve there are Servals, Caracal, Ground squirrels, Marmoset, Porcupine, Genet, Tenrecs, Grysbok, Steenbok, Blue and Common Duiker, Bushbuck, Kudus, Springbok, Goats, Giraffe, Suni, Zebra, Blesbok, Impala, Nyala, Wildebeest, Waterbuck, Crocodile, Tortoises, Bearded Dragons, Snakes and other reptiles.
Morning feeds start early at between 06.30 am and 07.30 am and the day normally ends at 4pm with lots of little breaks in-between. Once a week volunteers are required to help on “seed duty”.
Your duties when you volunteer at an Animal Sanctuary may include:
- Food preparation- you will receive instruction on how to do this and what each animals diet is and how much to give them
- Feeding routines through designated areas around the sanctuary
- Checking the fences of the nature reserve
- Cleaning, tidying and repairing animal enclosures
- Building new enclosures and expanding existing enclosures
- Assist with the rehabilitation and release of rescued wildlife
- Animal enrichments
- Removing alien and invasive vegetation
- Data collection on the nature reserve
- Guiding tourists around the sanctuary and helping with tours
- Cutting firebreaks- this has helped save the sanctuary during wildfires in the past
- Assisting with general duties in the restaurant
- Unloading deliveries
- Administration work and any other general maintenance or project
If you have any specific skills or qualifications that you feel could be of extra help, please let us know
The accommodation is less than a 5-minute walk to the sanctuary onsite. Rooms are rustic and shared from twin rooms to same gender dormitory-style rooms. Rooms for couples and families can be organised if booking early in advance. There is a club house for evenings with a TV and satellite channels. Bathrooms are shared. It is up to the volunteers to keep their living spaces tidy as cleaners come in Mondays and Fridays only. Linen is provided. Laundry is available for a surcharge. If you would need a prepaid South African sim card, this can be bought at the project and there is limited WiFi up at the main reception.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided. Breakfast is self-service. Volunteers often assist preparing meals in the communal kitchen and take turns helping to wash up afterwards. Vegetarian meals and other dietary requirements can be accommodated within reason but high-end vegan, luxury or imported food items cannot be catered for. Occasionally volunteers and staff will enjoy a typical South African braai (BBQ) together which is always a great way to end the day!
There is a small shop to buy snacks like chocolate, ice lollies, colddrinks and crisps
You will need to fly into Port Elizabeth International Airport for your airport collection before 15:30 or alternatively if visiting Cape Town, you can take a coach liner up to Jeffreys Bay for collection. This area of the Eastern Cape province is referred to as the “Sunshine Coast” with lovely long stretches of beautiful beaches and inland you will find many private wildlife reserves and of course the famous Addo Elephant National Park which is always worth a visit and home to hundreds of elephants and is a Big 5 reserve. The Eastern Cape is also the ancestral home of the first democratic president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela who is fondly referred to as Madiba and the home of the amaXhosa people who are known for their language, isiXhosa, which is a tongue twister with many clicks and very beautiful.
If wildlife, nature, beaches, and cultures interest you, it is a perfect part of South Africa to volunteer at and known for the friendly locals. Please be aware that volunteering with animals can get messy so please bring suitable clothes that you do not. mind getting dirty. This project is for those that love animals, birds and nature and do not mind getting stuck in and helping hands-on.
A few reviews from past volunteers…
“I had a great time at the Animal Sanctuary with very supportive people. The sanctuary mainly consists of a grand variety of birds as well as some other mammals, like a lovely serval called Heidi. The birds a joy to spend time with (a lot of them have their own characters). I couldn’t have asked for more support and the food was great as well. The workload was pretty good, although this might depend on how many volunteers there are (the time I was there we were 3 at the beginning and 5 before I left). Nevertheless, there is always somebody to help you if you feel that you got too much to do. Furthermore, there are a lot of amazing activities to do around Jeffrey’s Bay (30 min of sanctuary), such as surfing, skydiving and more as well as an amazing safari. If you love animals and want to have a great time with some additional activities, I can highly recommend this program”– Maximilian Krahn, Swiss (November 2023)
“The sanctuary is very large and beautiful! There are 2500 birds, servals, caracals, turtles, deers, snakes, marmoset, crocodile,… And in the park, there are free animals: kudus, nyalas, duikers, zebras, giraffes,… The dormitory is nice and the food is good. The team, the interns, Percy and the cooks are very nice and helping people. I’ve spent 3 wonderful weeks with young volunteers who greeted me like a friend! Work is hard and well organized. For your free time, there are so many things to do: safaris, whale watching, Jeffrey’s Bay (town, shops and beach),… I highly recommend this beautiful place for an unforgettable experience..”-Solange Lodomez, Belgian (October 2023)
“I had a absolute fantastic time, it was probably the greatest 2 weeks of my life,
Taking care of the animals, forming this close band to the other volunteers was amazing.
I was surprised on how well the volunteers are taken care off, I never had the idea that I worked too much or too hard, the off time was quite a lot,
The food was amazing and anything you wanted help with they where willing to help me.
I was touched by how well the animals where taken care off and how much genuine love the managers had for the animals, this is their mission.
It was an honour to help in that mission for 2 weeks.
Next time I will come 2 months and thats a promise.
I was there with my 15 year old sun and he also had a blast”– Fenna van den Berg and her son Tobias, Dutch (2022)
I think the best thing is just the atmosphere there. You have the feeling that you are always doing something, but you also have the feeling that you always take a break. The bird’s are super so lovely you just have to fall in love with this place.
The funniest thing you see there is how the water mongoose open a egg.
What experience do you feel you are gaining?
Just good ones, there is so much love you become from the animal, it’s amazing, maybe I will come back again…– Leslie Keller, Swiss (2022)
“The best thing in this placement was surely to meet super friendly people, who were there for the same purpose as me, meaning help, love animals and make friendship. Meanwhile, I learned about myself, I grew and I felt grateful for the experiences I have had. The sanctuary is mainly composed of aviaries with a lot of different birds inside. They all have their own personality, like humans. Some of them are friendlier than others, but in general they just love seeing you twice a day to feed them! Most of the tasks are repetitive but birds always make it surprising and different everyday! The sanctuary also has some enclosures with rescued animals, that we can take care of in some morning tasks. When I was there, it was Christmas and New Year’s time, far from home. With other volunteers and managers, we made our own Christmas “in family”, to make it festive and it was such a good time. We had a lot of good traditional food, we played games and we continued to better know each other. Afterall, I keep really good memories from this place, thanks to the people there. And I can be sure now that I will avoid working with birds in the future 😉 The agency Volunteer International Adventures, represented by Sharon for me, was also such a great support in all this adventure. They were always available for all my questions, being nice and pedagogue when I needed to. And thanks to her, I was able to carry out another project in the same area, with lions, which was one of my biggest dreams of life”-Solenne Raulet, France (December 2022)
“I wanted to thank you so much for everything you did helping organizing this trip. The ladies had an amazing time. They have started their trek home! Hopefully Madison and I will be back next year”-Lynne Cholette, mother of volunteer Madison Cholette, Canadian (2021)
“Go to the project it’s really interesting to see how the birds and all the other animals are living and to discover this amazing place !!!”Vadim Mabboux, French (2021)
If you like our Animal Sanctuary volunteer project, you may also like our Wildlife Rescue, Rehabilitation and Clinic. Read up more….