Caring for Rescued Lions at a Sanctuary

Volunteer Int. Adventures
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Coordinator | Sharon
Coordinator | Sharon
Reserve com a Flex Option! Escolha novas datas de partida ou mude para um programa de voluntariado diferente, sem custos adicionais.


Care for lions rescued from the canned lion industry knowing that your assistance gives them a better chance of life at this ethical sanctuary. Please be aware, NO breeding takes place
Assisting with game reserve duties which could include waterhole checks, boundary fence patrols, wildlife management and anti poaching duties...a great time to view other wildlife species
There are three prides of lions in separate enclosures but volunteers also need to assist maintaining and building new enclosures so that more lions can be saved in the future.
Experience the work of wildlife conservationists in the may even be lucky enough to go across the border into Botswana where elephants and other species roam wild
You will also have the opportunity to assist in the local community if you choose helping at one of the smaller schools. Upliftment for those in the area is of great importance too
Give hands-on help with an ethical lion sanctuary in the northern part of South Africa caring for lions saved from bad circumstances. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

The lion project originally started back in March 2016 with the aim to rescue lions from the cruel canned lion breeding industry -which is known to breed lions indiscriminately for trophy hunting and the lion bone industry- and to provide safe sanctuary for them in a more natural environment.

Currently there are thousands of lions being bred on roughly 160 farms throughout South Africa, for the canned-hunting trade. Most of these facilities are cruel and over-stocked, with lions living in cramped and horrendous conditions.  If not being shot by wealthy foreign trophy hunters, some of the lions are being slaughtered when of age, for the ever-demanding lion bone trade. The lion bone trade is a relatively new revenue stream for the breeders and farmers and has come about as lion bones are now being used as an alternative to tiger bones in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). There are now more lions held in captivity (upwards of 5000) in South Africa, than in the wild (about 2000)

The future dream of the project, is to be able to move these lions, established in prides, into their own semi-wild camps in Botswana’s Thuli block but it is a long and arduous road to fulfil this dream. Botswana is known to be a very safe country for lions due to their laws and regulations and once there, their ownership will be turned over to the state. For this to happen, numerous across border permits are needed to transfer and transport the lions out of South Africa and into Botswana across the border and semi-wild camps need to be built in Botswana according to their regulations for keeping lions in captivity which in size is a minimum of 1 hectare per lion.

The current lion enclosures at the sanctuary on the South African wildlife reserve are built with natural bush and trees inside and are a minimum of 1 acre in size although the average size per enclosure is 2.5 acres. Several of the enclosures have dry river beds running through them as well as low hills and rocky areas. They have been purposely built to be as natural as possible for the lions to ensure the rescued lions have the best possible life, in the most natural surroundings.

Please also be aware that breeding lions in captivity has no conservation value due to these reasons and at the project no breeding, petting, or trading takes place due to ethical reasons. As these lions have been captive bred, they are familiar with human interaction but NO interaction takes place unless lions are sedated for veterinary treatment as this is an ethical project. Sadly, in the petting trade, cubs are generally taken away from their mothers at around 3 weeks old and will never see her again. Humans (usually paying guests) are used as ‘surrogate mothers’ to the cubs. This, along with the fact that the lion industry has irresponsibly bred lions so badly, means that the gene pool/quality is adversely affected, and they can never be released back into natural wild areas. The reason for this is that if they were to breed with wild lions, this would have disastrous consequences for the future of wild lion populations as their DNA would contaminate the gene pool of true wild lions. No ethical project working with lions will breed in captivity and the only way that younger juvenile lions or cubs will ever be at the project, is if they have been rescued from an unethical situation. The lions that are part of this project, will live out their natural lives in this safe sanctuary.

The current lion camps holding 12 lions from three separate prides, are based on a small wildlife reserve outside the town of Alldays in the northern South African province of Limpopo which borders Botswana. This wildlife reserve acts as a halfway house to rehabilitate any future rescued lion prides, a sanctuary for the current three prides of lions in a safe and natural environment and camps are being built to accommodate future rescued lions. Some of the lion prides will never be able to be moved over to Botswana due to bad breeding, so those prides, will remain at the wildlife reserve on the South Africa side. There is also a relocation of rescued lions from the Ukraine to be taking place in the near future once documentation is all in place with 4 lions in Poland in quarantine waiting to be relocated to the sanctuary with a possible future lion rescue from the Ukraine taking place in the future. 

Hence, the end-goal aim of this project is to rehabilitate these lions back into a safe, semi-wild environment, using the huge camps as semi-free-roaming areas for rescued lions to live out their years in a safer and more natural environment whether in South Africa or Botswana.

Although the lions on the reserve are in secure camps, there are other wildlife species that are free roaming, and it is not uncommon to see zebra and antelope roaming or the neighbouring reserve’s giraffe watching with interest as you drive by. The reserve itself will give you the opportunity to see some of the great variety of species living there, and it is not uncommon if the opportunity arises to cross the border into Botswana, to see even more diverse free roaming wildlife with elephant, baboon, monkey, hippo, and crocodile sightings being common. If you are very lucky you might even get to see African Wild Dogs on the road as past volunteers have witnessed

  • This is a real life project and unpredictable as working with wildlife generally is so your volunteer duties can change as needed on that day. Your exact duties for the day cannot be guaranteed but your volunteer duties may include some or all of the following:
  • Preparation of food and feeding lions and other animals
  • Ensuring all animals have enough fresh water

  • Cleaning out and maintaining existing lion camps and enclosures
  • Facilitating lion enrichments and monitoring their behaviour
  • Building enclosures for lions to be able to rescue future lions from bad situations
  • Sweeping the roads for footprints. (The sand pathways around the reserve need to be swept in order for the anti-poaching patrols to notice any new footprints).
  • Assist with lion schools program both setup and administration
  • General game reserve management which could include waterhole checks, boundary fence security patrols, wildlife management and anti poaching duties.

Please note: As you will be working with wild animals on a reserve, you’ll need to remain open-minded and flexible as each day can bring on new challenges which they may need your assistance with. Working with wildlife is totally unpredictable and the hours can be long, the workload heavy, dangerous and stressful.

Typical day

The description given is of a typical day (EXAMPLE). Please be aware though when working with wildlife, changes do happen. You will have two days off a week and a shopping excursion once a week to buy food.

06:00 Wake up, wash and get ready

06:30 Breakfast 

07:00 Lion enclosure checks

08:00 Lion enclosure cleaning, maintenance and other volunteer duties

12:00 Break for lunch

13:30 Fetch lion food

15:30 Lion Enrichment activity followed by feeding the lions

18:00 time to prepare dinner, relax, swim, read, contemplate on the meaning of life, listening to the lions roar…

Please be aware that work on the day can change. Lion enclosure management, lion moving can take up most of the day when building or repairing. Times can change and game reserve management duties some times take longer than scheduled due to the nature of work.

Free-time activities

You will need to assist five days out of seven days with two days off. As the project is in quite a remote part of the African bush, there are no shops in walking distance or public transport so days off will be a chance for you to catch up on a book and relax around the swimming pool. It is also possible to do a one or two day tour of the neighbouring wildlife reserves in the area like Kruger National Park or Mapungubwe Transfrontier National Park- or even over to the lodge in Botswana- for a fee which can be arranged with management while you are on your project. 



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 (basic level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 07:00 - 18:00

Serviços incluídos

Services by Volunteer Int. Adventures
The cost of this volunteer project includes your shared accommodation onsite, meeting you at Polokwane airport, airport collection and drop-off from Polokwane airport to the project base, a weekly shopping excursion to town to buy food to prepare your meals, built in donations towards the lion care, pre-departure admin and support, in-country staff and 24- emergency help. It does not include flights, visas, food, travel insurance, laundry and spending money for activities 
Airport Pickup at Polokwane Airport

The project is situated about two and a half hours drive from Polokwane Airport, which is where you will arrive/depart from. Due to the distance please note the following:


·       For arrival, your flight must arrive at Polokwane Airport no later than 14:30.

·       On your departure day, your flight must depart no earlier than 10:00.


Volunteers will share bedrooms and bathrooms at the onsite volunteer house and have use of the main lodge kitchen. There is a swimming pool onsite to cool down on hot summer- and winter- days and wifi but it is very limited. All volunteers will need to  assist with food preparation for their meals and clean up afterward themselves. Volunteers are expected to keep their accommodation clean and tidy.  Volunteers do their own laundry (hand wash facilities available). Alternatively there is an option to have laundry done at extra cost. Volunteers will have a weekly shop at the nearby town to be able to purchase food items to prepare their own meals as food is not included in the project costs.

Dorm Room Bedroom (Double)
Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. Food, snacks or beverages are at extra costs.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Polokwane Airport (PTG) in Polokwane. We assist you to find cheap flights to África do Sul.
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 África do Sul provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in África do Sul you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for África do Sul.

Datas & Custos


Details on arrival

Arrival and departure days are Fridays and you will need to fly in and out from Polokwane Airport via a connecting flight from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

IMPORTANT:  The project is situated about two and a half hours drive from Polokwane Airport, which is where you will arrive and depart from. Due to the distance please note the following:

·       For arrival, your flight MUST arrive at Polokwane Airport no later than 14:30.

·       On your departure day, your flight MUST depart no earlier than 10:00.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2 - 12 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
2 weeks (min. stay)
3 weeks
4 weeks
5 weeks
6 weeks
7 weeks
8 weeks
9 weeks
10 weeks
11 weeks
12 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$366 /week

A organização cobra as suas taxas em GBP. A tabela de preços em USD está sujeita a flutuação cambial. Volunteer Int. Adventures informará o candidato sobre o preço final durante o processo de candidatura.
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 Volunteer Int. Adventures during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Porquê reservar com Volunteer World

Extra security layer by Volunteer World
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Opção Flex
Altere a sua reserva sem custos adicionais
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Nós cobrimos suas costas, não importa o que aconteça.
Os nossos serviços são gratuitos!
Todas as despesas do programa são cobradas diretamente por Volunteer Int. Adventures.

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Caring for Rescued Lions at a Sanctuary

Give hands-on help with an ethical lion sanctuary in the northern part of South Africa caring for lions saved from bad circumstances.


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