Scout Ranger Trainee Scout Ranger Trainee Gravelotte, South Africa SanWild Sanctuary
SanWild’s volunteer program is your chance to spend two weeks or more participating in the daily operations and research projects of a working wildlife sanctuary.

10 Project reviews of SanWild Sanctuary

Project Details

SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary & Rehabilitation Centre is a thriving refuge for wild animals in the heart of the South African wilderness.

Spanning 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of South African savannah, SanWild Sanctuary is home to the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo) plus a profusion of native wildlife.  

Founded by the late conservation champion Louise Joubert, SanWild Sanctuary has been rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing wild animals back into their natural habitats for more than 20 years. The sanctuary provides a safe game reserve for rescued animals, where they can live out their natural lives, wild and free. 

Since the year 2000, the animal care and rehabilitation facility established by Louise Joubert has been funded by the non-profit SanWild Wildlife Trust. At this centre, our aim is to provide true rehabilitation and, wherever possible, to release rescued animals back into the wild where they belong.

That’s why the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre at SanWild Sanctuary is not open to the public! Our staff, students, and volunteers work under strict guidelines to minimise human interaction and prevent human imprinting from developing with the animals in our care. 

We also partner with other rehabilitation centres in South Africa, offering our 3,000-hectare sanctuary as a safe and secure release site for animals rescued in other locations. 

One of our main objectives is to educate the public on conservation, specifically on ethical conservation. For this purpose, we run projects with the participation of the public, whereby they can develop an understanding and appreciation for our natural heritage and become ambassadors for wildlife conservation.

To accomplish this, we run a paid-for volunteer life experience program whereby participants from all over the world come to participate in our wildlife conservation projects, thereby generating much-needed income to fund our sanctuary while at the same time creating ambassadors that take the knowledge they gain from us back to their countries of origin. 

The main focus of the project is on
NPO Status
Yes, registered non-profit organization
Foundation Year
Contact Person
Didi Schoeman
Spoken Languages

Social Impact

Over the years, we have launched several successful conservation projects that give endangered wildlife a second chance at life.

Preditor Sanctuaries 

The Large Predator Sanctuaries on SanWild house predators such as lions and spotted hyenas that have been rescued from lion hunting farms, zoos and circuses from around the globe. These proud animals no longer fear humans and lack important survival behaviours, so unfortunately, they cannot be released back into the wild. We provide these animals with large enclosures where they are looked after while they live out the rest of their lives in a habitat that is much more natural to them. 

Free-range Cheetah Breeding Project

SanWild’s Cheetah Project participates in a national breeding program for wild and free-range cheetahs. Cheetahs wander freely within our Sanctuary but are tracked and monitored with radio collars to gather information for research programs. SanWild was instrumental in introducing the first wild cheetahs back into Malawi from offspring born in our Sanctuary. 

Elephant Management Project

SanWild is home to a herd of elephants that were rescued from a disbanded game reserve in the Eastern Cape in 2006. According to the Environmental Impact Study and Elephant Management Plan for SanWild, our 3,000-hectare sanctuary has a carrying capacity of just 16 elephants. Our elephant population has already reached 13, so we monitor the herd closely, try to proactively prevent pregnancies, and limit and repair excessive environmental damage. Our Elephant Management Plan needs to be updated every five years for the Department of Nature Conservation, so keeping close track of everything is essential here.

Rhino Conservation Project

Our Rhino Conservation Project showcases our own massive counter-poaching initiatives. Our high-risk/low-reward strategy is to raise the chances of getting caught while at the same time severely reducing the financial return for poachers. To raise the risk for poachers, we upgraded our 45 km perimeter fence to a high-tech installation that is monitored 24/7 and patrolled daily. Whenever an alarm is triggered, our Game Rangers immediately go to investigate. If a breach has occurred, a tracker team is called in, armed with sniffer dogs, a helicopter and private security.

To lower the financial reward for poachers, we took the difficult decision to dehorn all of the rhinos in our sanctuary. We would obviously prefer to see our rhinos with intact horns, but the risk to their lives was simply too high. The result: poaching attacks on SanWild have declined by more than 95% since mid-2020.

In Conclusion

We also run other conservation projects, for example, our Wildlife Gene Exchange Program and Habitat Rehabilitation Project, which play an important role in securing the viability of wild animal populations and their natural habitat. We have been involved in these social impact projects for wildlife conservation for over 23 years and are dedicated to continuing them well into the future.

Pursued Sustainable Development Goals

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