Ever wanted to work hands-on with big cats in Africa? Well now is your chance! Join us on a volunteer project that is truly helping increase the numbers of cheetah in the wild. The cheetah is considered one of the world's most endangered species by the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). With less than 7500 cheetahs left worldwide (and less than 600 wild cheetahs left in South Africa), the urgency to repopulate the dwindling numbers has become apparent. The main goal of this project is to breed and release cheetah back into the wild to supplement the current population.
You'll be working with a number of endangered and threatened species on a daily basis, including cheetahs, leopards, male non-breeding lions, servals, caracals, Bat Eared Foxes, African wildcats, wolves, meerkats and a Siberian tiger. Our project takes in rescued animals from the local area, so we also have various animals from time to time, including a goat and antelope.
This project will give you the opportunity to work with these majestic animals while contributing to real conservation efforts to save the cheetah from going extinct in the wild. Your involvement and help will assist to ensure the survival of the species for generations to come.
After spending two weeks at the project, we will leave for a private 4-day safari to Kruger National Park, where we will have plenty of wildlife watching and safari time, while seeing some of the most beautiful scenery in the area. It will be a true African experience to remember.
You will fly into the O.R. Tambo International Airport before 2pm on October 15th, where you will be met by your Jennie of the Jungle leaders and be transported to the project. After spending one week at the project, you will be transported to your lodging in Johannesburg for one night, and will be picked up early in the morning for your Kruger National Park Safari. You will spend 4 days on safari, and be returned to Johannesburg, where you will spend an additional night before being taken to the airport for your flight home the following day.
On a normal day, you’ll work closely with a number of amazing endangered and threatened species. Your duties will include cleaning enclosures and refilling water bowls, preparing and feeding food to our animals, which involves handling raw meat, educating the public that visit the project on the importance of conservation, by assisting with educational tours and taking guided tours (once you are ready), and working as a team to complete various group activities, including building structures for our animals, maintenance of enclosures and enrichment activities.
Work starts between 7 and 8am and ends at 5 or 6pm, with a lunch break at 1pm. This schedule is subject to change, as working with animals sometimes requires flexibility. You'll have plenty of time during the workday to hang out with the animals and take photos! And you may have the opportunity to provide intensive care for our juvenile animals when required.
Our Volunteer Village is still under development but once completed, there will be 14 apartments which will house 2-4 people. A communal lounge/kitchen area and fire pit will be available in the center. Each apartment has its own bathroom facilities.
Until then, volunteers will share accommodation in one of our 2- or 3-bedroom chalets. Chalets will be allocated on same gender sharing bases.
Each chalet has a self-contained kitchenette, small lounge, bathroom, a small patio and barbeque facility.
The entertainment area is located in between the chalets and volunteer village and includes a swimming pool and large entertainment hall with a pool table, TV and DVD player.
Your clothes will be washed on most weekdays (Tues – Fri) by the caretakers. Towels and all linen are supplied and are washed on a weekly basis. Apartments/Chalets will be cleaned by our staff on a regular basis.
You will be provided with a light breakfast and cooked lunch daily, and will be taken into town to buy your own supplies for dinner.
- Your Jennie of the Jungle experienced adventure leaders
- Lodging and 2 meals per day for the duration of the project
- Volunteer fees (these keep the project going and often help locals learn about and practice conservation methods)
- Transfers to and from airports and between the project and safari
- Lodging between the project and the safari (meals will be at your own expense)
- Kruger National Park safari including lodging and most meals
- Passport (with at least six months validity and multiple full pages left)
- Travel Insurance (covering the duration of your trip)
- Inoculations (please speak to your doctor about necessary immunizations)
- Spending money (you can withdraw or convert cash at the airport and other places along the way)
- Casual work clothes for both hot and cold days. Please avoid bright colors if possible.
- Semi formal clothes for functions and for trips to town
- Swimsuit and towel
- Flashlight ad batteries
- Notebook and pen
- Insect repellent
- Toiletries (biodegradable is best)
- Medical Kit (hand sanitizer/wet wipes, immodium, band-aids, personal medicine & earplugs)
- Sunglasses, sun hat, bandana, lip balm& sunscreen (high UV/SPF protection)
- Closed-toed shoes
- Alarm clock or watch
- Camera (with extra batteries and memory cards)
Please take into account additional expenses like tours, trips, WiFi, cold drinks, restaurants and bars. It is a good idea to carry different types of payment like cash, credit cards and debit cards.
WiFi is available at the project for R100 per week (about $6).
The project has just relocated to a new spot in Bela Bela, and you will find yourself immersed in bush life! The day to day work takes place in nature where antelopes, wild animals and beautiful birds roam free and wild.
There are plenty of fun activities to reward yourself after a productive day, with local bars and restaurants only a 20-30 minute drive away. The area is surrounded by game farms so there is plenty of opportunity to organize game drives and bush walks.
It is important to realize that not all the work will be easy or "romantic". Many times you will need to roll up your sleeves and get dirty. Keeping a positive attitude is important, and note that mundane tasks contribute and are very important to the program.
The more positive you are, the more positive your memories will be. Your time on the project will be over sooner than you think - what would you like to think back on later in your life? Be prepared to learn a new culture and be flexible to changes, as that's part of the adventure. Patience can go a long way to making your trip unforgettable. Please come with an open mind, and plan to take initiative and add value to the project.
Leave expensive watches and jewelry at home. Bring certified copies of your passports and leave one at home with a family member or friend. Keep one in a second bag separate from your handbag. Don't drink too much while in town and keep your wits about you. South Africa can be dangerous but we will avoid dangerous areas and won't spend too much time in the city.
Though malaria risk is low in Kruger National Park, it is a malaria zone. Talk to your doctor about anti-malaria drugs.
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