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 were rescued by FOUR PAWS, an international animal welfare organization. Many of these animals were rescued from zoos, circuses, and even private ownership, and 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 conserving 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 helping give these big cats the care and freedom that they deserve, while at the same time learning more about wildlife and animal welfare and having the experience of a lifetime!
You will be part of our animal care team, supporting critical aspects of our animals’ welfare, helping with animal enrichments, bi-weekly feedings, while gaining a deeper understanding of the big cats that are at home in LIONSROCK.
Our comfortable volunteer accommodations are located on the sanctuary grounds where you will have access to a fully equipped kitchen and can cook together with the 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 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 is 18
- Students of biology, zoology and veterinary medicine are particularly welcomed but this is by no means a requirement
- Minimum length of stay is 4 weeks
Given that the most active times for our animals and their predators is very early in the morning and late at night, your work hours will sometimes be irregular, however we will make sure that there is a good balance between work and free time.
Your main tasks:
- Closely monitor specific animals to give them the best possible care and 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 the mountain bikes that we provide and are also able 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 18km 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. Within 2 hours you are in Lesotho, and at the Drakensberg Mountains. The sanctuary is 4 hours’ drive to Durban and 3 hours to Johannesburg.
Your application and booking will go through our partner organization Oyster Worldwide, Gap and Responsible Travel Specialists, which places volunteers at animal welfare and community-based projects around the world.