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Category: Volunteering, gap year and career break in South Africa

The best cage is an empty cage! Volunteer in a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre that is also a wildlife hospital that cares for injured and orphaned wild animals and birds.

Work with over 400 different animals and birds, and lots of monkeys! Much of your work on this project usually involves some hands-on caring and nursing of injured or baby animals, for example bottle-feeding them or cleaning wounds. You'll mother it and care for it until it is recovered or old enough. Then, where appropriate, you'll teach it to survive on its own so that it can be released back into the wild!


PRICES Please see the Prices Page - prices for all projects and all lengths are listed and you can also choose which currency you'd like to see them in.
Start Dates All year round - programme arrival dates are on the 1st and 15th of each month.
Duration From 4 weeks to 12 weeks or longer (subject to visa requirements)
Requirements Minimum age 17, no qualifications needed, just a big heart and a love of animals.
What's included
  • Arranging your Programme
  • Full pre-departure support and assistance
  • Payment Protection Insurance
  • Accommodation
  • food
  • local in-country team support and backup
  • 24-hr emergency support.
What's not included
  • Flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Cost of Visas (if a visa is required)
  • Airport pickup and return (but we can arrange this for you)
Who can do this Project? All projects are open to all nationalities.





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Work in a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre that is also a wildlife hospital that cares for injured and orphaned wild animals and birds. Any wild animal that has been injured, rescued or abandoned, is admitted free of charge. Almost 90% of animals admitted to the Centre have sustained injuries due to human negligence.

Much of your work involves understanding the principles of wildlife rehabilitation and contributing towards giving animals that have been orphaned or injured, the best chance of getting back out into the wild where they belong. You’ll contribute to an extremely valuable conservation effort that provides medical care, rehabilitation and also releases wild animals back into their natural environment.

This is a superb project. Your work with the animals has the direct result of improving their quality of life, of "rescuing" them from death or a life of misery.

  • Assisting with preparing the animals’ food and ensuring all their nutritional needs are met during their rehabilitation through enrichment activities
  • Assisting with the care, treatment and monitoring of each animal’s recovery and progress.
  • Assisting with the cleaning of the animals’ enclosures and ensuring their environment meets all their physical needs.
  • Assisting with the cleaning, repair and maintenance of the centre’s facilities and animal enclosures.
  • Assisting with centre’s trained staff with wildlife rescues and releases out in the field.
  • They also have a very busy Educational Program, so if education 'is your thing', you may be able to assist with school tours and edutainment events at the Education Centre, if available at the time that you’re there.

The longer you're on this project, the more you'll and the more you'll be able to do more in-depth and responsible elements of the work required.

The Rehabilitation Centre strives to release all its wildlife patients back into their natural habitat in the wild. This is a particularly satisfying time!

The rehabilitation centre is never ending with volunteers needed all year round. The focus of that work is closely related to meeting the needs of their wildlife patients which do change from season to season depending where each animal is in their individual recovery and rehabilitation. South Africa’s season are as follows:

  • Spring: September – November
  • Summer: December – February
  • Autumn: March – May
  • Winter: June - August

During spring and summer those animals that have suitably recovered and been rehabilitated (weaned from their dependence on their human caregivers) are released back into the wild.. In addition to caring for new arrivals and those animals that are not suitably recovered yet, you are therefore likely to participate over this period in the release and monitoring of animals that are being returned into the wild.

Spring and summer is KwaZulu-Natal’s rainy season and therefore releases are done at this time to give the animals a chance to adapt to their new environment, establish a territory, find the best food sources and water, etc before the cold winter months set in and adequate access to food and shelter become essential to their survival.

Those animals that are not ready to be released during this period remain in the Centre during autumn and require ongoing care throughout the winter. This is also the time that the Centre readies itself for the next influx of injured and orphaned babies that usually start coming into the centre from early spring.

Preparation of food, feeding and caring for those animals that have remained in the Centre is ongoing, but there is also a strong focus at this time to repair and improve the clinic, enclosures, transport boxes and other equipment used to rescue and release wildlife.

Rescues are ongoing throughout the year and you may go out with the staff to help capture and secure injured animals that need to be brought back to the Centre for medical attention and care.

Duties throughout the year may also include painting and construction, landscaping and removal of alien vegetation, as well as enriching the enclosures with natural structure and foliage to keep the animals stimulated and ensure they can recover in as natural and stress-free environment as possible.

This placement is definitely for nature loving enthusiasts who are willing to work hard and aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty, but the rewards are well worth it:

  • You'll get a wonderful and varied experience with many different species of animals.
  • You'll get to experience the headiness of looking after animals that are totally helpless and reliant on you take care of them.
  • You'll leave feeling very proud of yourself for having contributed to the quality of life and well-being of previously abused and battered animals.
  • You'll learn much more than you can imagine, particularly about the importance of conserving wildlife, and hopefully you'll help to raise awareness by talking to friends and colleagues on your return home.
  • This project will be an excellent entry on your CV, demonstrating your initiative, adaptability, your unique working experience and your concern for nature.


Demonstrating to a school group why conservation is so important

Returning a buck back to its natural habitat. The buck doesn't know it yet, but ....

Back to Nature! Being released after having been nursed back to health.

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There is a fully furnished volunteer house that accommodates up to 10 volunteers at a time. There are three bedrooms and two bathrooms, with volunteers sharing rooms and communal living areas. The house is on the grounds of the rehabilitation centre with the volunteer manager and other staff also living in separate accommodation right next door to the volunteer house.

The house also has an outside patio area with a fire pit and braai facilities. Wherever possible, couples or related volunteers who would like to stay together in the volunteer house are given their own room, but this is obviously dependant on how many volunteers there are in the house at the time.

The volunteer house is cleaned once a week, but volunteers are responsible for keeping the house clean and tidy on a daily basis and a roster is in place for things like cooking duties and washing dishes. Laundry facilities are available in the house too so volunteers can do their own washing.

Mobile phones do operate with full reception on-site.


Food is provided on this project. Volunteers are encouraged to cook and eat their meals together in the volunteer house as this is a great way to get to know your fellow volunteers and learn a little about their nationalities and cultures. A weekly grocery shop to provide volunteers with 3 meals per day is done by staff and volunteers. Any special dietary requirements e.g. vegetarians are met within reason, however luxury food items are at your own expense.

There is a small shopping centre with a grocery store and take away outlets located within walking distance of the rehabilitation centre.

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The best advice you'll get from us is to try to see some of the country while you're in South Africa. It's big (huge!) and each different region is exciting and very, very beautiful. Cape Town is probably the most beautiful city in the world (I can say that, I grew up there :-)  KwaZulu-Natal comes a very close second, albeit very different. Knysna is where South Africans go on holiday, which gives you some idea of how lovely the region is.

LOCATION: Yellowwood Park, Durban, South Africa
The Rehabilitation Centre is located on the east coast in a suburb of Durban, called Yellowwood Park. It lies close to a small protected reserve of 253 hectares which offers coastal forest and grassland habitats and includes species such as zebra, bushbuck, reedbuck, impala, blue, red and grey duiker, vervet monkeys, rock hyrax, slender mongoose, bushbaby, Egyptian mongoose, banded mongoose, water monitor and genet. The reserve also has an interesting variety of indigenous flora and over 200 bird species.

Because the Centre is close to the Reserve and the fact that food is always available at the Centre, you'll see lots of birdlife scavenging food from the enclosures - and wild Monkeys are also regular visitors./span>

The Bluff is a gigantic headland that forms the southeastern 'arm' of Durban Harbour and has a string of safe and protected beaches. Brighton Beach, Cave Rock Beach, Anstey's Beach and Garvies Beach are all very popular, with interesting walks through coastal bush that end almost at the water's edge.

KwaZulu Natal is renowned for its Game Reserves and traditional Zulu Culture
: The attractions in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) range from vibrant cities to the gorgeous Land of a Thousand Hills, from tranquil beaches to outstanding Game Parks and Nature Reserves. These are just some of the sites you shouldn't miss:

  • Big Five Game Reserves (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino - and lots more, of course) and Travellers volunteers are able to work in many of them, including Tembe and Mkhuze.
  • Beautiful St Lucia Wetlands with its Crocodile Centre and Wetlands
  • Numerous nature parks,
  • Fantastic beaches for swimming and diving. The beaches are truly golden.
  • Lively Durban where South Africans go to have fun,
  • The San Art Park for a collection of astounding rock paintings,
  • ... And much, much more!

Durban (Tekweni in Zulu) is the ancestral home of the Nguni people. Africa's bewitching seaside playground in the sun with radiant golden sands and lush sub-tropical greenery. The city has balmy weather all year round, making it a perfect holiday paradise. Durban International Airport is only a 10 minute drive from the City. Sophisticated and cosmopolitan, Durban Metro after dark buzzes with elegant lounges, funky taverns and cozy inns, distinctive local theatre and live music, and trendy clubs, pubs and discos. This is nightlife in a modern, authentic African metropolis!

Vervet Monkey release - always a happy time

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