Experience hands-on volunteering with cheetahs, baboons, big cats and much more!
This project offers you the chance to travel and work as a volunteer at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary with cheetahs, lions and other big cats. Much of Namibia is certified 'cheetah country,' and is home to one third of the world's entire cheetah population. With 95% of cheetahs living outside protected areas and on farmland, they are sadly often killed by landowners who regard them as a threat to their livestock.
About the project
This project directs all its efforts towards the long term rehabilitation of animals within the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary. Sadly, not all of the animals housed here are able to be released back into the wild, as many are orphaned and have been hand raised and therefore have become too used to captivity. Not only do volunteers help make these animals' lives as good as possible, but they may also get the rare opportunity to work alongside the big cat experts and Bushman trackers in the conservation research program. This involves the monitoring and tracking of a number of leopard and cheetah within the local area, taking part in game counts for data collection, or preparing for new arrivals into the sanctuary.
Volunteers are key to the success of the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary and their participation ensures the rescue, survival and rehabilitation of the animals which have found a safe home here. Since 2008, the sanctuary has also rescued and safely re-released over 80 cheetahs, leopards and brown hyenas. These re-located carnivores are then monitored via tracking collars and GPS in order to assess their welfare within the new regions in which they have been released. sanctuary itself is situated in a natural savannah paradise with riverine vegetation, lush grass plains and magnificent mountain views. The sanctuary currently provides a safe refuge for orphaned and injured wildlife as well as those that have had to be relocated away from local farms as they are seen as 'problem carnivores,' and can often be killed as a result.
Prior to Arrival
In order to volunteer in Africa at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary you will need to apply for a work visa before travel. We will provide further information and documents for this upon booking. We can also put you in touch with an agent in Namibia who can organise this for you.
You will need to fly into Windhoek International Airport, also known as Hosea Kutako International Airport. There are several daily flights here from the South Africa hub cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as daily flights from a range of international destinations.
Upon arrival into Windhoek Airport you will be met by a project representative in the arrivals hall and transferred to the project site. The transfer is a drive of approximately 45 minutes. Once at the sanctuary you will settle in to your accommodation and spend rest of the day at the site meeting with other volunteers and volunteer coordinators before joining an orientation talk.
On your typical working days you will work from approximately 8 am to 4 or 5 pm and have the evenings off. As the animals need to be fed and cared for during the weekends as well, you will also work on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
You will get to do different tasks, like feeding the primates. You will be responsible for preparing the food for and feeding all of the animals each day. Fruit, vegetables, meat, food leftovers (anything that can be recycled here will be!), miele pap (a kind of porridge), and milk formula for the little ones are used to feed the baboons and farm animals. Volunteers are also able to experience carnivore-feeds with lions, leopards, semi-tame and wild cheetahs, and even with rare African wild dogs. You will also get to hand-feed the resident meerkats, which is a truly fantastic experience. As there are often a large number of baby baboons resident at the centre you will be encouraged to help look after them, this will almost definitely include taking a walk across the beautiful veldt with the baby and junior baboons. As part of the project you will also feed them, bathe them and take them to bed so they have someone to cuddle with at night and don't feel scared. It is the highlight of many people's time here and is a crucial part of the project but is not a mandatory activity.
Another necessary part of the project is the continued cleaning and maintenance of enclosures. You may therefore be involved in the clearing out of old food and bones from animal enclosures, the cleaning of waterholes and the fixing of any damage to the animal enclosures.
As the sanctuary grows continuously, it needs constant repair and building work. Volunteers may be required to help with these tasks which include: constructing new enclosures as animals arrive, border fence patrols and de-bushing to remove invasive alien plant species.
After fond farewells on your last day with us, you will be transferred from the project site to Windhoek airport for your return flight, or to commence your independent travel plans.
A typical day at our Wildlife Sanctuary
7:00 am: Breakfast
8:00 am: Meeting with fellow volunteers and coordinators
8:30 am: Morning activities, distributed on a rotational basis
1:00 pm: Lunch break
2:30 pm: Afternoon activities
5:00 pm: Work is finished
6:00 pm: Dinner
Typical day tasks include all aspects of the sanctuary work, like help to rescue, care for, clean, feed and rehabilitate cheetahs, leopards, lions, African wild dogs, caracals, baboons, and zebras.
Whilst on the project, you have the weekday evenings and Saturday and Sunday afternoons to relax (please note however that the animals still need to be fed on the weekends). This time can be spent enjoying activities such as a nature walk, swimming, playing football against the bushman workers, or an eco-challenge competing in groups. This is usually followed by a traditional braai (barbeque).
There are also some very special trips that we offer for an additional charge:
Visit the San people and learn some of their ancient skills! (N$250 - £12.50) Nobody knows and understands the vast and dry southern African landscape better than the San people. Their expertise in understanding animals, plants and spoors is second to none. This activity is dependent upon enough volunteers wanting to participate and availability during busy periods.
Neuras Conservation and Research Site OR Kanaan Conservation and Research Site
For an additional £70 you can swap one of your weeks at The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary for a week exploring a mountainous area of Namibia (Saturday-Saturday) or the Namibian desert!
On your project start day between 7am - 5pm, where you will be met on arrival and transferred to the project. This transfer will take approximately 45 minutes.
There are 2 accommodation options, volunteer rooms with up to two people (of the same gender) sharing and large tents with a bedroom and communal area to be shared by 2 volunteers (of the same gender or a couple). Although we can take requests for which accommodation is preferred, we cannot guarantee this selection as this will be subject to availability.
Showers and toilet facilities are communal and hot water is supplied by solar energy, therefore please be aware that it is sometimes restricted.
We also have 6 luxury chalets and a tranquil dining area with stunning views, a bar and a swimming pool. You can choose to upgrade your accommodation and stay at the lodge over the weekend or at the end of your stay.
Three meals a day are provided at the sanctuary with tea and coffee freely available throughout the day. Breakfast includes toast and cereal, lunch includes pasta, wraps, burgers or stir-frys, and evening dinners include meat, fish, vegetables, rice, potatoes and pasta. On weekends there is often a braai (barbecue). A vegetarian option is also always available. Other drinks and snacks can be purchased at the Sanctuary for an additional fee including alcoholic beverages. Lots of volunteers also take the opportunity to visit the lodge for a delicious buffet lunch on a Sunday.