South Africa is world-famous for its wide-open landscapes, nature in its purest form, and of course, the Big Five. The Big Five is the name given to the largest and most dangerous African mammals: Rhinoceros, Elephant, Buffalo, Lion, and Leopard.
LIONSROCK Sanctuary is home to over 90 big cats, including lions, leopards, tigers, and cheetahs, all of which have been rescued by the international animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS. Many of these animals were rescued from zoos, circuses and even private ownership, where they were subjected to a lifetime of neglect and inappropriate keeping.
As a volunteer at South Africa’s largest big cat sanctuary, you will have every opportunity to be involved in protecting the welfare of these magnificent animals!
What we offer
At LIONSROCK, our big cats live in a species-appropriate setting, many of them feeling grass under their paws for the first time. As a volunteer, you will directly contribute to giving these big cats the care and freedom that they deserve, while at the same time learning more about wildlife and animal welfare and enjoying the experience of a lifetime!
You will be part of our animal care team and support critical aspects of our animals’ welfare. You will help with animal enrichments and bi-weekly feedings, while gaining a deeper understanding of the big cats at home in LIONSROCK.
Our comfortable volunteer accommodation is located on the sanctuary grounds where you will have access to a fully equipped kitchen and can cook together with other volunteers or enjoy a typical South African braai. You will be able to enjoy the stunning views over the sanctuary and wake up to the roar of our lions!
- Love of animals and a particular interest in big cats
- Happy to work outside in any weather
- Love of nature and animal welfare
- Willingness to learn and the patience to observe
- Understanding of what it means to work for, but not in direct contact with, animals
- Fluency in spoken and written English
- Minimum age: 18
- Students of biology, zoology and veterinary medicine are particularly welcome but this is by no means a requirement
- Minimum length of stay: 4 weeks
Given that our animals and their predators are most active very early in the morning and late at night, your working hours will sometimes be irregular. However, we will make sure that there is a good balance between work and free time.
Your main tasks will be to:
- closely monitor specific animals to give them the best possible care and a chance to thrive in their new home
- observe the animals’ behavior and progress
- assist with managing trap cameras for monitoring the big cats
- prepare and implement enrichment measures
- clean and maintain the animals’ enclosures
While you will be expected to work five days per week, you will have plenty of free time to explore the surrounding area on mountain bikes that we provide and also to visit nearby towns and tourist attractions.
Other things to do and see:
There is loads to do in the Eastern Free State, famous for its warm South African hospitality and a mix of arts and culture. From experiencing life in a tribal village to tasting the exquisite wines of South Africa, there is something for everyone here, especially for those who love the great outdoors.
The Maluti Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to our nearest big town, Bethlehem, which is just 18 km from the LIONSROCK sanctuary. Bethlehem has excellent facilities, including numerous good restaurants, shops and supermarkets, and a varied entertainment calendar.
Nearby tourist attractions include Clarens, the Golden Gate National Park, and Fouriesburg. In just two hours you can be in Lesotho or at the Drakensberg Mountains. The sanctuary is a four hours' drive to Durban and three hours to Johannesburg.
Your application and booking will be handled by our partner organization, Oyster Worldwide, Gap and Responsible Travel Specialists, which places volunteers at animal welfare and community-based projects around the world.