Hands-on Wildlife Rehabilitation & Animal Care

Namibia

Join this hands-on wildlife sanctuary project in Namibia and be responsible for the daily care of large and small mammals, birds and primates. Volunteer at this well-established wildlife rehabilitation centre on the edge of the Kalahari Desert in Namibia. Interact closely with the animals, helping to rehabilitate and release them back into the wild, and help with the daily care of those who cannot be released.

This is a very hands-on wildlife sanctuary programme where volunteers get closely involved in the daily care of the large and small animals who live at the sanctuary and form close bonds with the wildlife. The centre is home to a wide variety of animals - some free roaming, some domesticated, including lions, cheetah, leopard, caracal, baboon, monkey, giraffe and of course, plenty of dogs, cats, sheep and pigs! Witness unique animal interactions and have amazing hands-on wildlife experiences.

For adventurous and energetic volunteers aged 18-45 who are looking for a hands-on wildlife sanctuary experience in Africa, this project is perfect! Volunteers get a practical, hands-on introduction to animal care, conservation, research and environmental studies all the while surrounded by the beautiful Namibian bush. Get involved in the care, rehabilitation, rescue and release of injured, orphaned, neglected and abandoned animals. From dogs to lions, tortoises to caracals, every animal who comes to the sanctuary is cared for, with the aim of eventual release or rehoming. Animals who will not survive in the wild are loved and looked after by volunteers and dedicated staff members.

The centre is home to a wide variety of animals - some free roaming, some in large enclosures and some domesticated - who happily roam around the farm and lodge entertaining volunteers and guests with their antics. A unique opportunity to bond with and learn about some of Africa’s most iconic animals.

This project gives volunteers the chance to try a wide range of activities including food preparation, animal feeding, enclosure cleaning and building and animal interaction. You will also go on game counts and fence patrols and help collect research data on rehabilitated animals. Live on the edge of the Namibian desert, listen to the lions roar and enjoy the peace and simplicity of living with animals.

Quick Facts

Who can join: Volunteers from 18 - 45 years
How long can I stay: 2 weeks - 12 weeks
Accommodation: Volunteer village
Transfer time: 3 hours
Pick up from: Windhoek Airport or Windhoek
Meals: 3 meals a day
Start dates: Projects run throughout the year, starting on a Friday and ending on a Thursday
How much: from $1,345 (2 weeks)

WHY CHOOSE THIS PROJECT

Make a real difference to the lives of the resident animals as you get hands-on with a wide variety of large and small mammals and birds. Walk with baboons, engage with meerkats and monkeys, feed cheetah and vultures and learn more about lions, wild dogs and leopard as you experience these animals first-hand.

Background

This wildlife sanctuary and rehabilitation centre has been a working farm for more than 30 years and the original owners remain involved today. When they rescued a vervet monkey from abusive owners, what started as a simple love for wild animals grew into a passion which saw them taking lions from a South African zoo which had closed down - transforming what was a hobby into a full-time occupation.

International exposure resulted in a huge increase in the number of animals offered to and taken in by the family and a wildlife trust was started to cover the costs. The centre was opened to the public in 1993 to help raise the funds required to keep it operational and to help with long term conser-vation objectives such as large animal release.

For the last 30 years, the centre has been actively involved in the care, rehabilitation and rescue of neglected, abused and abandoned animals. Its staff have rescued more than 380 indigenous wild animals to date, many of them still living at the centre.

Conservation and the protection of animals is the number one priority at this project and animals are rescued from dangerous situations and collected from farmers who have captured those which are threatening their animals and crops. The intervention gives them a second chance at life, either through the provision of enclosures as near as possible to their natural habitat or, more preferably, released into dedicated protected sites throughout Namibia.

The number of cheetah and lions have plummeted in the last decade and the rehabilitation project hopes to make a real difference to wild populations by re-establishing big cats back into the Namibian wilderness.

Highlights

Volunteers come from all over the world to experience this world-famous project and make a real difference to give animals the care and attention they need.

  • A very practical and hands-on project giving animals a second chance at a good life
  • Participate in a diverse range of activities from conservation to animal care, research and animal handling
  • Immerse yourself in the wildlife around you as you live next door to lions, cheetah and wild dog
  • Care for orphaned and injured wildlife and help with animals that cannot be released
  • Get involved with rescue and release carnivore projects
  • Learn to track and identify animals and learn about the threats which they face
  • Undertake fence patrols and game counts on horseback and by vehicle
  • Get up close and personal with a wide variety of wildlife in their natural environment


What sort of things will I be doing?

No two days on this project are ever the same and their motto is Expect the Unexpected! Activities you will get involved with include:

Animal care and rehabilitation:
Without volunteer help, the project would struggle to supply the manpower needed to give good care to so many animals, so your work is really making a difference.

  • Prepare meals for the domesticated animals
  • Feed animals - from lions to leopard, wild dog and cheetah
  • Help with animal enrichment to stimulate natural behaviours
  • Clean out enclosures and feeding pens
  • Animal interaction - work closely especially with smaller animals like meerkats, baboons and monkeys - have you ever walked with a troop of baboons?!
  • Get involved with rescue and release projects
  • Help rehabilitate animals who can one day be released back into the wild

Maintenance and repair

  • Build and repair enclosures and fences
  • Help dig new waterholes and repair erosion

Research

  • Conduct studies of rehabilitated animals to assess their welfare and readiness for release
  • Record behaviour patterns and social interactions

Learn about wildlife and the environment

  • Go on bush walks and learn to track animals
  • Identify the trees and plants around you and learn about their uses in traditional medicine and legends
  • Assist with game counts around the reserve
  • Go on horse patrols into the game park
  • Learn about the constellations and the stunning night skies

Please note that activities will vary according to what animals are at the project at the time and what their needs are. Be flexible and bear in mind that the variety and number of animals can change daily. The only thing we can guarantee is that you will have an amazing time!

Details

Do I need any experience to volunteer on this programme?

We welcome volunteers with a passion and interest in wildlife and conservation and the ability to communicate suitably in English. You should be of reasonable mobility and fitness as there is some walking and foot-based tracking involved in the project.

How do I get to the project?

Included in your programme price is return transfers from your accommodation in Windhoek city to the project and back. The transfer leaves on a Friday morning and returns on a Thursday, to any location in Windhoek. Your return trip to the airport from Windhoek is not included but we can easily arrange that.

 

A day in the life

Volunteers will usually get up around 6.30am to get started before the day heats up.

Have breakfast in the volunteer village, prepare your backpacks for the mornings activity and walk up to the farm for the morning meeting where you will be issued with your programme for the day.

Your first job starts at around 9am and could be taking the animals for a walk - hilarious fun as you walk with the baboons! Or you could be preparing food, cleaning enclosures or doing farm work. You may be able to go on a horse ride to check on the wildlife or do a fence patrol.

Return to the farm for lunch at around 1pm and prepare for the afternoon activity. Perhaps you will work on one of the research projects with the cheetah or go on a walk into the reserve with the jackals or caracals. Volunteers also learn to track animals who have been released and monitor their well-being. Afternoon activities continue until sundown.

At 5.00pm the lions are fed!

Enjoy a home-cooked dinner while you chat about the day and make new friends.  write your blogs and check your photographs.

At 8pm volunteers who are doing the Baboon and Animal Sleep-Out will depart for the farm and for those volunteers who stay behind, the kitchen is open until 9 and then volunteers can socialise at the bar or get a good nights sleep!

Please note that activities will vary according to what animals are at the project at the time and what their needs are. Be flexible and bear in mind that the variety and number of animals can change daily. The only thing we can guarantee is that you will have an amazing time!

Rates & Dates

When can I volunteer?

Volunteers can begin this Hands-on Wildlife Rehabilitation Sanctuary Project on any Friday throughout the year. Projects end on a Thursday when volunteers are transferred back to Windhoek for their onward travel.

Feedback from volunteers suggests that a 2 week programme is just not long enough to experience the project to its fullest as the first 2-3 days are your introduction and orientation. We highly recommend a 4-6 week stay on this programme.

Project pricing 2017:
2 weeks: $1,345
3 weeks: $1,995
4 weeks: $2,595
6 weeks: $3,795
8 weeks: $4,945
10 weeks: $6,145
12 weeks: $7,245

Remember, these prices include a transfer from Windhoek to the project and back to Windhoek. Volunteers should arrive the day before their project starts and overnight in Windhoek. Your accommodation there can arrange a collection from the airport to your lodge. Please arrange return flights for later than 3pm on your last day (Thursday) to ensure that you will arrive back at the airport on time.

Visa fees are excluded and visas take approximately 8 weeks to organise - please remember this when making your booking!

What does the cost include?

  • Programme fee - financing which goes back into the programme your are involved with; this includes funding for equipment, supplies, vehicles and foodstuffs
  • Transfers to and from Windhoek city to the project on the scheduled date and time
  • Full board and lodging for the duration of your programme including laundry (exc. any snacks, alcoholic or fizzy drinks from the bar)
  • Three meals per day
  • Full 24 hour support and training from your programme co-ordinators during your stay
  • All programme-related transport and equipment required to do your work

The programme cost excludes:

  • Flights to Windhoek
  • Transfers from Windhoek Hosea Kutako Airport to and from Windhoek at the beginning and end of your programme
  • Visas fees - all volunteers must apply for a work permit (we will organise this for you) - the cost is around N$900
  • Any expenses prior to your programme start date (including pre- and post-programme accommodation)
  • Any personal items such as alcoholic drinks, snacks, additional food or souvenirs
  • Personal medical and travel insurance, which must cover the entire duration of your programme and should include cover for repatriation, air evacuation and any activities you may undertake or plan to undertake
  • Any additional trips outside the volunteer programme
  • Telephone calls and internet
  • Drinks and snacks from the bar

View our booking terms and conditions

Want to volunteer with rhinos and elephants? 
Combine this Hands-on Wildlife Sanctuary Programme with our Hands-on Rhino and Elephant Conservation Programme in Zimbabwe - experience two very different and equally beautiful African countries.

Accommodation & Leisure

Accommodation

Your home on this project is in the friendly and social Volunteer Village where up to four (same sex) volunteers share a comfortable unit. There are shared ablution and toilet facilities in the Village (not in the chalets) with hot and cold running water. Volunteers will need to bring a sleeping bag for camp-outs in the bush but normal bed linen and towels are supplied while you are in your chalets.

The village uses solar power for lighting and there is a separate room where volunteers can charge cell phones, laptops and cameras - there is no permanent power source in the cabins. There is a laundry service but volunteers are asked to wash their own underwear and socks - you will need to bring your own laundry detergent for this.

We will try and accommodate couples in private accommodation but this cannot be guaranteed, especially during busy times - please ask when you enquire!

Three meals a day are provided while you are volunteering and volunteers are often asked to help prepare meals for the rest of the team. Vegetarians and those with dietary requirements can usually be accommodated - please just let us know on your booking form! There is a bar on site for alcoholic and fizzy drinks and snacks and there is also a souvenir shop.

Do I get some time off?

The animals are fed every day including Sundays but you will get time off over the weekend to relax and enjoy the sun and the pool! The project is located approximately 3 hours east of Windhoek on the edge of the Kalahari desert so excursions off base are limited, but it is well worth considering spending some time either before or after your programme exploring some of this beautiful country.

Car hire is very affordable and there are lots of reputable car hire companies in Windhoek. There are also lots of tour operators based in Windhoek who will be able to organise visits for you to see the magnificent sand dunes at Sossusvlei or organise trips to Swakupmond to experience dune surfing and sand-boarding!

Combination Projects

It is well worth considering spending some time either before or after your programme exploring Namibia.  Take a look at our selection of scheduled tours of Namibia (camping or accommodated), or self-drive options. Visit the iconic salt pans of Etosha National Park or organise trips to Swakupmond to experience dune surfing, desert quad biking and sand-boarding!

Cheetah & Carnivore Conservation, Namibia

Explore another remote part of Namibia as you move south to the beautiful Namib-Naaukluft National Park, home to released populations of cheetah and hyena. You are responsible for monitoring the progress of these released animals, as well as using GPS and trail cameras to establish populations of all small and large carnivores in the area.

Namibia Tours

Why not explore Namibia on one of our scheduled tours, or have a self-drive adventure in this beautiful, wild country. Visit the vast salt pans of Etosha National Park, home to populations of rhino, elephants, lions and leopard; marvel at the immense red sand dunes of Sossusvlei or the rocky moonscapes of Damarland; and track cheetah and wild dog at the Afric-Cat Foundation.

Animal Caretaker Intern

The Animal Caretaker programme gives volunteers more direct animal care and contact, and is designed for those volunteers who may not have formal animal caretaking experience but who want to get more involved and have more wildlife responsibility (for those with veterinary skills, we recommend the Veterinary & Wildlife Conservation Internship, also run at this location).

The Animal Caretaker programme offers volunteers the opportunity for increased responsibility and further training in the care of the Sanctuary’s animal residents. It is perfect for volunteers who have the passion for animals but not yet formal qualifications. Volunteers will participate in many of the same core activities as the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Animal Care volunteers, but with an added layer of responsibility and oversight.

WHO SHOULD APPLY?

Volunteers do not have to have any animal care experience but Caretakers must have a passion for wildlife, a commitment to conservation, an ability to adapt to changing situations and a good observing eye. You should be of reasonable fitness and willing to take on additional responsibilities as and when required.

Animal Caretakers must be able to commit to a minimum stay of at least a month.

WHAT DOES THE INTERNSHIP INVOLVE?

Caretaking volunteers will spend the first week having intensive training, during which time you will work with more experienced Caretakers, as well as Volunteer Coordinators, to learn the ins and outs of daily animal care for wildlife in sanctuaries. Part of this training will include at least one education session with the founder of the sanctuary, where you will be instructed in the standard of care expected for the animals on the farm.

During training week, volunteers must learn about the animals to which they are assigned:

  • Standards of cleanliness expected for enclosures
  • Proper diet and eating habits
  • Normal versus abnormal behaviour
  • Skills needed to work with their assigned animals safely and independently
  • Proper record keeping
  • Who to approach should they observe a problem or issue
  • How to work with any animals under your care that may be currently sick or injured.

Once trained, Caretakers are responsible for overseeing the standard of care given to their assigned animals. They will be leaders amongst the other volunteers with regard to the functioning of their team, and how their team cares for and interacts with their animals. Caretakers will make sure that their animals have enough blankets, water, the proper food, are eating well and behaving normally, that sick animals are treated regularly and are observed for any changes for better or worse.

It is important to note that more will be expected of Caretaker volunteers should one of their animals be injured or ill, or should there be another (non-assigned) animal that requires extra observation and care. This may necessitate the volunteer going above and beyond what other volunteers may be expected to do.

Animal Caretaker volunteers will be required to keep detailed records of the wellbeing of their animals. Caretakers will serve as liaisons with Volunteer Coordinators, promoting better communication between staff and volunteers and allowing greater continuity.

As this program is minimum four weeks, three as active trained Caretakers, you will be in a good position to observe long-term changes and standards than those staying a shorter time. Caretakers are encouraged to work together, communicate and meet regularly to promote a sense of bonding, as well as to make sure all animals are being cared for properly and any issues are readily addressed.

When there are no animal caretaking jobs to do, or your work for the day is completed, you will join volunteers on the Hands-on Wildlife Rehabilitation & Animal Care Programme.

PRICING

Animal Caretakers must stay at least a month and the maximum length of stay is 12 weeks.

4 weeks: $2,595
6 weeks: $3,795
8 weeks: $4,945

10 weeks: $6,145
12 weeks: $7,245

APPLY NOW!

Please send us an email if you are interested in joining the project as an Animal Caretaker. There are fewer spaces for these roles, so advance notice is usually required, and the June - September period is generally the busiest.

Namibia

Volunteering in Namibia

Namibia is a place of contrasts - from vibrant, colourful cities to the immense desert scenery, mountains and ocean. It is characterised by vast open spaces, breathtaking scenery and has a rich cultural history and some of Africa’s most stunning and unique landscapes. With its looming red sand dunes, the turbulent Orange River, a variety of adventure activities, traditional towns, deep canyons and spectacular bronze sunsets, Namibia is a travellers dream.

Namibia is perfect for travellers looking for unspoilt wilderness areas, 300 days a year of perfect sunshine and a huge variety of wildlife. Its name is taken from the 80 million year old Namib Desert which makes up more than 10% of the country - Namib means “vast” in the local Nama language. With a stable infrastructure, travel around the country is easy and getting off the beaten track into deserted wildlife areas can be done with confidence.

Sossusvlei Dunes are home to the highest sand dunes in the world and Namibia’s most outstanding scenic attraction. Part of the Namib Desert, these dunes have developed over millions of years, the wind continuously shifting the sand further and further inland, reshaping patterns in distinctive warm tints. Climbing to the top of one of these dunes provides breathtaking views of the whole area, including Deadvlei, a large ghostly expanse of dried white clay punctuated by skeletons of ancient camelthorn trees, carbon dated between 500-600 years old.

Etosha National Park is Namibia’s first conservation area, designated in 1907. Undoubtedly one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth and one of Africa’s best game re-serves, Etosha is home to huge herds of elephant, black-maned lions, cheetah and the world’s largest population of the rare black rhino.  Etosha owes its unique landscape to the Etosha Pan, a vast shallow depression of approximately 1,930 square miles which forms the heart of the park. Once part of a large inland lake fed by rivers from the north and east, it dried up 120 million years ago as continental drift changed the slope of the land and the course of the tributaries. This white, chalky expanse colours the park, and with the waterholes, creates the characteristic atmosphere of the Etosha of today.

To the west of Khorixas in North-West Namibia is Twyfelfontein, a massive open-air art gallery carved into red rock by ancient Bushmen overlooking an expansive valley below. The engravings, some estimated to be 6,000 years old, record the wildlife seen in area - giraffe, rhino, elephants, ostrich and even a lion. It is believed that the creators incised their engravings as a means of entering the supernatural world and recording their sha-manic experience among the spirits. Whatever the meaning, the site was awarded UNES-CO World Heritage status in 2008.

Swakopmund is Namibia’s playground - a holiday haven away from the dusty heat of the interior. While there is plenty to do within the city, the real action takes place in the desert surrounding the town. Quad-biking, sand-boarding, sand-skiing, parasailing and other adrenaline actives are available from any of the adventure operators in the area. Visit Walvis Bay and join a dolphin cruise or explore the lagoon on a kayak.

What will the weather be like?
During the Namibian summer (November - January) temperatures average 30°c and often go to over 40°c. Volunteers should bring light cotton clothing, a wide-brimmed hat or cap, polarised sun-glasses, a water bottle, plenty of high factor sunscreen (and after-sun!), strong mosquito spray and closed shoes. A light waterproof jacket is also essential for sudden downpours! Average lows are around 17-20°c. Summer is an amazing time of year where you can watch thunderstorms approach from miles away and witness incredible electric storms and light shows!

During winter (April - August) daytime temperatures average 25-27°c with no rainfall at all. Temperatures during the night and in the mornings and evenings regularly go below 0°c and volunteers are advised to bring lots of layers including fleeces and a warm hat for nighttime camping with a wide-brimmed hat or cap and loose light clothing for daytime.

Book Now

Drop us an email to enquire about availability and reserve your place!

Go to our contact form.

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Testimonials

Hands-on Wildlife Rehabilitation & Animal Care My partner and I went here after a recommendation from an ex safari guide. I finally made it and after 2 weeks there, every 2 seconds my brain returns to thinking about it and ways to return there. Firstly STAY LONGER THAN 2 WEEKS! It may sound like a lot on paper but with all the fun, friends and experiences you will be having it flies by and you will be standing on that bridge waving ... Caitlin F, Australia Read More

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