Western Cape Big Cat Sanctuary

founded in 2011
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Coordinator | Tracy
Coordinator | Tracy
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.


Get up close with amazing rescued cats
Spend time near the South African beach
Learn about the plight of big cats in Africa
Only one of seven genuine sanctuaries in South Africa
Make lifelong friendships
The Western Cape Big Cat Sanctuary is an environmentally friendly sanctuary which is currently home to lions, tigers, caracals, jackals and a leopard. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

The Project

The sanctuary provides a compassionate and enriching environment for exploited big cats to live out their lives in comfort and safety. It also provides a range of specialist services such as trapped animal relocations, animal communication workshops and big cat facility advice and assistance.

With a strong focus on raising awareness of the plight of big cats in Africa, the sanctuary delivers on-site educational programs to sanctuary visitors and provides the opportunity for visitors and volunteers to be involved in creating enrichment toys and activities for the cats.

The Location

The sanctuary is located on 40 hectares of private land in Stanford, in the Western Cape province in South Africa.

Situated in the Overberg region known for its grain and fruit production, Stanford is a small historic village built on the Klein River. Considered one of South Africa’s best preserved villages, Stanford is known for its beauty and charm.

South Africa is a country on the southernmost tip of the African continent. It is made up a variety of ecosystems. The inland safari destination of Kruger National Park covers vast shrublands populated by big game, the Western Cape encompasses lush winelands around Stellenbosch and Paarl, wild beaches, the rocky cliffs at the Cape of Good Hope, the forest and lagoons along the Garden Route, and the city of Cape Town which sits beneath flat-topped Table Mountain.

Our Volunteers

Volunteers assist in many different areas of the sanctuary such as

  • cleaning enclosures and water bowls
  • helping to prepare the food for the big cats
  • helping build enclosures
  • clearing alien plants creating important enrichment toys for the animals to play with
  • checking electric fencing around the enclosures and property

Volunteers also play a role in educating visitors to the sanctuary, helping to spread awareness and compassion for the plight of big cats in Africa.

On arrival at the project, you will receive an orientation from a staff member. Your orientation will cover an introduction to the project, rules and regulations, a house induction, animal introduction and a rundown of your tasks while at the project.

Contact with the animals

The caracals at the sanctuary were raised with humans and require ongoing interactions with humans for their emotional wellbeing. Volunteers will have the opportunity to engage in ‘play time’ with the caracals.

Physical contact with the other big cats is strictly prohibited! This includes the lion cubs.

Most operations involved in the hand-rearing of lion cubs do not have the lions’ best interests at heart. Many of these cubs end up providing sport for hunters. Potential volunteers are encouraged to do their own research on the Canned Hunting industry before embarking upon a lion volunteering project in South Africa to ensure that they aren’t supporting an unethical and cruel practice.

Conditions Onsite

Some sanctuary maintenance tasks can be physically demanding working in the heat of summer. Some volunteers may also feel a bit squeamish about the large portions of meat that are fed to the lions.

There is no maximum age, however, you will need to be able to stand for long periods of time, work in humidity or the heat and perform manual labour tasks. 

Please Note

The second instalment of your project fees is due within 1 week after you paid the deposit on Volunteer World. This is a total of $495 AUD and comes off your balance. The balance is due 90 days prior to travel. For all further information about the fees, please scroll down to the section "Program Fees“.

Typical day

Every day is different, but volunteers are always involved in the daily care of the big cats, including preparation of food and feeding and watering the animals. The animal enclosures are also cleaned and maintained regularly.

As part of the sanctuary’s enrichment program, volunteers have the opportunity to get creative and design and construct fun and challenging toys for the big cats and then enjoy watching the animal enjoy and destroy them!

Most days the sanctuary delivers two educational sessions for members of the general public. Volunteers will join in with these sessions and help to raise awareness and motivate visitors to care for animals. Volunteers also assist with general farm maintenance such as weed control and fence checks.

You will work two shifts per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Free-time activities

The Stanford Walking Trail follows the Klein River through the town and is considered a ‘must-do’ for visitors to Stanford. There are also a number of great hikes in the area.

Stanford has a reputation for offering excellent bird-watching opportunities. Some of the species found in the area can be found along the Stanford Walking Trail. For further opportunities, take a cruise down the Klein River or visit the bird hide at the Willem Appel dam.

Between July and December, head to the coast for some superb whale watching. Join one of the whale-watching boat cruises available or head to nearby Hermanus or De Kelders and let the whales come to you! The whales regularly come to within meters of the shore.

For a more adrenalin-charged experience, try shark cage diving for the opportunity to see sharks and other marine life up close.

If shopping is more your thing, don’t miss the monthly sunset markets that are always a hit with volunteers.

Water Sports


In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (fluently)
Required Documents
Proof of travel Insurance docs and Proof of vaccinations
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Volunteers must be willing to work and must be able to take direction from staff. Volunteers must also have a genuine care and compassion for animals and a desire to enrich the lives of animals in captivity.
Time Commitment
Regular working hours are hardly predicable. It mainly depends on the work force. Get in touch with Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers straight ahead to get more infos about current to dos and objectives.

What's Included

Services by Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers

What's included in this project?

  • Pre-departure support
  • Project Information Pack
  • Transfers from Cape Town Airport to the project and return
  • On the job training
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast and lunch
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • 24-hour O2E emergency phone
What's not included in this project?

  • Flights
  • Dinner
  • Snacks
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Spending
  • Visas

Airport Pickup at Cape Town International Airport


Large shared house with communal area and a pool.

Food & Beverages

Breakfast and lunch are supplied. Vegetarian options are available. Volunteers must supply and prepare their own nighttime meal. Volunteers will be taken on a weekly shopping trip to obtain supplies.

Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town. We assist you to find cheap flights to South Africa.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for South Africa provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in South Africa you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for South Africa.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

The project accepts volunteers every day of the year.

To get there, fly to Cape Town, South Africa. You will be collected from and returned to the airport before and after your placement.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1 - 6 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
1 week (min. stay)
2 weeks
3 weeks
4 weeks
5 weeks
6 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$1,099 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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Quality Assurance
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We refund your fees if Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers cancels your trip
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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Oceans 2 Earth Volunteers.

What are people saying about Volunteer World?

Western Cape Big Cat Sanctuary

The Western Cape Big Cat Sanctuary is an environmentally friendly sanctuary which is currently home to lions, tigers, caracals, jackals and a leopard.


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