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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 
Care for Animals at a Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release Centre in South Africa
 Photo: Feeding time for Joey! This duiker was found as a baby and it's  suspected it’s mother was killed by poachers.

SOUTH AFRICA

CARE FOR ANIMALS AT A WILDLIFE REHABILITATION AND RELEASE CENTRE IN KWAZULU-NATAL SOUTH AFRICA

The best cage is an empty cage! Work in a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre that is also a wildlife hospital that cares for injured and orphaned wild animals and birds. You'll work with over 400 different animals and birds, and lots of monkeys!

Become part of an amazing team of wildlife experts specialising in the rescue, treatment, rehabilitation and release of various wild animals that may have been injured or orphaned. Assist with feeding, cleaning of cages, enclosure enrichment and lots more to provide the best possible environment for these animals in distress. Your time and contribution is invaluable to the project!

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SUMMARY FACTFILE
Start Dates All year round - you choose your start and finish dates.
Duration From 2 weeks to 12 weeks or longer, subject to visa requirements
Requirements No qualifications needed, just a big heart and a love of animals and their conservation. Minimum age 17.
Price Full Price List
What's included Arranging your program,
Full pre-departure support and assistance,
Payment Protection insurance
Accommodation

Food 
Meeting you at the nearest airport
Transfer to your on-site accommodation
Local in-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support.
Certificate of Completion
What's not included Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas (if a visa is required), Return transfer to airport.
Who can do this Project? This project is open to all nationalities and all ages over 17.
Suitable for gap years or those taking a year out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in conservation and caring for animals and working with wildlife overseas.
This is an excellent placement if you want to learn about rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife and doing animal-related voluntary work, projects abroad or study abroad.
Also available as a summer placement in South Africa or a short break activity.

WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM DOING THIS PROJECT:

  • An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten adventure into Africa and the many diverse cultures in South Africa

  • The enormous satisfaction of helping abused, orphaned or threatened animals and knowing that you made a difference to them.

  • New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional development.

  • An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head and shoulders above most others in the job market.

  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!

Care for Wildlife in a Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release Centre in SOuth Africa

PROJECT OVERVIEW
The best cage is an empty cage! Run by a small, yet highly dedicated and experienced team of staff and local and international volunteers, the Rehabilitation Centre assists over 3000 injured, orphaned and displaced animals every year. From mongoose, genets and monkeys to raptors, reptiles and antelope, the Centre represents a second chance at a free, safe and sustainable life for all wild animals in distress. This excellent project is based in a beautiful Rehabilitation Centre.

You'll work with anywhere from 300 - 400 different animals, birds, and monkeys! The number and variety of animals can vary depending on the time of year.

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, temporarily homes and also releases wild animals back into their natural environment.

WORK CONTENT
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.

  •  You'll assist in preparing food and feeding,

  •  Looking after the many species in the Centre,

  •  Assisting with the maintenance and improvement of the grounds and enclosures. There is also quite a lot of manual work that you will get involved with such as digging, building, cleaning and generally improving the enclosures for the animals.

  •  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.

Whenever possible, animals who can survive in their natural habitat are released. This is a particularly satisfying time! See photos and write-ups of a recent vervet monkey release, a mongoose release and a pelican release - events enjoyed by everyone at the Centre! Also see photos of a recent gosling release

A TYPICAL DAY AT THE CENTRE:
(Please note that the below is just provided to give you a general idea. Every day will be different!)

07:00 - Volunteers report for duty

07:00-07:15 - Morning meeting with staff and volunteers to plan the day ahead

07:15-09:00 - Morning feeding & cleaning session (Preparing food for all animals and assisting Clinic Nurses with feeding the animals and cleaning out their enclosures) Assisting with rescues and releases as needed.

09:00-09:15 - Mid-morning Tea Break

09:15-10:30 - Assist CROW Clinic Nurses with catching animals that are going to be released, prepping empty enclosures for new arrivals, any ad hoc repair and maintenance tasks. Assisting with rescues and releases as needed.

10:30-12:00 - Assist with daily animal enrichment activities such as gathering natural greens, berries and bugs to supplement animals' diets & making a variety of natural treats and stimulating "toys" for the animals from natural materials. Assisting with rescues and releases as needed.

12:00-13:00 - Lunch Hour

13:00-15:00 - Afternoon feeding & cleaning session (Preparing food for all animals and assisting Clinic Nurses with feeding the animals and cleaning out enclosures) Assisting with rescues and releases as needed.

Please note: In terms of daily food preparation: The Centre accommodates a wide range of animals including carnivores which need to be fed protein/meat. Vegetarian volunteers need to be aware that food preparation will include cutting up meat and poultry for these animals.

Autumn and Winter Months:
South African autumn months are March, April and May which are still quite warm due to the subtropical climate of most of KZN. The winter is from June to August.

During the late summer and autumn those animals that have suitably recovered and been rehabilitated (weaned from their dependence on their human caregivers) are reintroduced to the wild. In addition to caring for those animals and babies that are not suitably recovered yet, you are likely to participate over this period in the release and monitoring of animals that are being returned into the wild. This will involve going out to game reserves and farms where animals will be allowed to go back into the wild.

This is done specifically to give the animals a chance to adapt to their new homes, 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 remain in the Centre over the winter and require ongoing care throughout the winter. This is also the time that the Centre readies itself for the next influx of babies. Baby buck usually arrive in the early winter and will be in need of a lot of TLC.

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 grounds, Clinic, Education Centre, enclosures, the cages and transport boxes.

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 cages with structures and equipment to keep the monkeys entertained and stimulated.


Young Amy the Bush pig is coming on in leaps and bounds after surviving a bush fire. She has recovered from all her wounds and has become quite the little character. Her natural instincts are kicking in and our clinic team have to be very careful at feeding time as she’s got a mean bite!


This is Moses, a 10-day old water-mongoose. It was found in the reeds at a river by someone having sundowners and he was named Moses!

Care for Animals at a Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release Centre in South Africa

Preparing to release a buck back into the wilds after rehabilitation
Preparing to release a rehabilitated buck back into the wilds

At last, back to it's natural environment. Success!
At last, back to it's natural environment. Success!

ACCOMMODATION:
We have 2 types of accommodation:
We have a fully furnished volunteer house that accommodates up to 10 volunteers at a time. There are four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Volunteers share rooms. The house is within the security of the sanctuary and surrounded by an electric fence.

For couples or groups of volunteers who would like some extra privacy, we have a log cabin situated next to the main volunteer house, nestled under huge indigenous thorn and fig trees. It comfortable sleeps 4 volunteers in two bedrooms and has a veranda, small kitchenette and sitting room. Ablutions consist of a shower, toilet and hand basin. Meals will still be cooked with the rest of the volunteers in the main house. Allocation to this accommodation will be made at the discretion of the Project.

A safe is available at the main office should you wish to lock away your passport, money or any valuables. Mobile phones do operate with full reception on-site and it is recommended that you bring one with you.

FOOD:
Sufficient food is purchased for the house on a weekly basis to provide 3 meals per day. Volunteers advise Mabel, the
Volunteer Co-ordinator, of any special requirements i.e. vegetarian, and these are met within reason. Volunteers cook their own meals out of the food provided.

In addition to the stove in the house, there is also a braai (barbeque) area to cook outdoor meals.

Acommodation on this project


Savannah and Jazz (Jazz is the male), Lions who were rescued and subsequently released back into the Wild

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Got any questions? Please email us: info@travelersworldwide.org

  • Click here to read feedback by Kate Davies about her placement early this year.

THE REWARDS OF DOING THIS PROJECT:
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.

To give you a feel of the fulfilment that you can get from the project, here's an excerpt from Mabel, our Volunteer Liaison at the Project, from her report about what the volunteers have been doing recently:

"Everyone is sad to see Helen leave. She really did an outstanding job here and was loved by all. Olivia went with Dr Fitchat to set up the cage for the monkey release on the 7th January at Pakamisa Private Game farm. She work very hard in the sun all day and never once complained about the heat. Early on Monday morning all the clinic staff, assisted by the volunteers, caught and packed the monkeys to be transported to Pongola. It was very wet but all the volunteers did what they could to help make this go fast.

Rebecca went with Estie and Medi to Pongola to release the monkeys. They stayed on the farm for 2 nights and the monkeys were released on the Wednesday morning very early. Olivia and Rebecca had a wonderful time seeing the monkeys run for freedom. When they returned, they couldn't stop talking about what they had seen and how happy they were to see the little ones free and not in a cage.

We had a mother monkey with a baby come in that was bitten by dogs. Baby was fine but mother had some very bad head and arm injuries. Rachel and Bethan took it on themselves to make sure the baby got fed and was not too stressed because the mother was not well at all. The girls really did a good job with the baby. Mother and baby are doing well now and we hope that we could put them back with the troop soon.

The girls are looking after the baby buck everyday and do all the bottle feeds. Rachel and Miranda are going with me today to take a young Blesbuck to a bigger facility. Rachel, Beth and Miranda went on a tour to Sani Pass in Lesotho. They said it was the best day ever. They had a lot of fun and enjoyed all the stuff they did. They're also going on a 2-day safari to Hluhluwe Game Reserve on Saturday and Sunday. Other than that, the volunteers are kept busy and they enjoy every day.
Mabel "

The Rehabilitation Center itself is a lovely and a very safe environment. This is truly a wonderful project that is both rewarding and unforgettable.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BOOK YOUR PLACEMENT:
Once you have applied for a placement, we'll contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have access to all the documentation and information which we've put together to facilitate preparations for your adventure! Your Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on your placement and on your return home.

The documents you'll have access to also include a Country Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on your particular program (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.

As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in mind.    Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this wonderful opportunity!    

On Arrival, your Introduction to the Country: When you arrive you will be welcomed by a member of our South African staff who will take you to your accommodation and introduce you to everyone. During your first few days you'll be given an induction so that you can learn about the country and its culture, as well as other useful information, like how to use the transport system, banks, safety issues, tipping, and lots more.

You will have weekends free and this will also allow some time for travelling and sight seeing.

  

Feedback on Wildlife Conservation on Game Reserves in South Africa with Travellers Worldwide

Teaching children about animals
Volunteer Kim Underwood teaching children about animals


An arrival at the Wildlife Center, Mia, the Baby Black Backed Jackal, Click here to read more…

Hi Kate, We had a great first day. I fed lots of babies. Tyler wants to feed the babies too. Mabel has a baby vervet (sp?). Sooo cute. I was surprised at how tropical it is. I was expecting bush type landscape. Very beautiful and wonderful weather. The people at Center are awesome, really nice. The other volunteers are fun. Lynn.
See Lynn and Tyler’s photos from their placement


Photo Galleries
Knysna Diary
Wildlife Rehabilitation Diary
Wildlife Expedition News!

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE REHABILITATION CENTRE:

NEWS! This project has been featured in 3 episodes of Wildlife SOS on Animal Planet. As one of our volunteers said, "Thank you to all of you for the wonderful work you do and for your dedication – you make such a difference. The story of Shumba and Savannah had me in tears – I have never managed to understand the hunting industry in general, but this canned business is disgusting! And we humans are meant to be civilised – yeah right! But how wonderful the cubs look now though! Hopefully, through Animal Planet, many more will now know of your organisation and here’s also hoping, many more will assist you with your excellent work!"

Mission Statement
The rescue, rehabilitation and release of orphaned and injured wildlife, and it believes in action and education with regard to the protection of all natural resources. The Center is committed to conservation and strives to return all rescued and rehabilitated wildlife to their natural habitat. The Center has 12 depots in and around the Province and is considered to be one of the leading rehabilitation Centers in South Africa.

Animals that are currently being rehabilitated are placed in enclosures far away from public activity. As far as possible, animal enclosures are created that are similar to their natural environment to give them a "feel" of what their world is like. Orphaned antelope are often only released in Nature Reserves where there are no predators, as they don't know what a predator is. These animals are tended to by staff and volunteers whose love, care and dedication is unconditional, around the clock.

The Team Leader has extensive experience in the rehabilitation of wildlife and assists a number of wildlife agencies in drawing up release protocols for rehabilitated animals.

As the Center is a non-profit organisation with no financial aid from the government or any large concern, they are solely reliant on fundraising initiatives and the generosity and goodwill of the public. As the running costs are approximately £8,000 ($14,500) or more a month, there is very little funding that can be applied to appointing full time staff.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of this organization, especially during the spring and summer months when lots of orphan baby animals are brought to the center for care.

During the late summer and autumn those animals that have suitably recovered and been rehabilitated (weaned from their dependence on their human caregivers) are reintroduced to the wild. Those that are not ready to be released remain in the center over the winter and require ongoing care. This is also the time that the center readies itself for the next influx of patients.

“A small reebok that had been raised as a pet and grown up with dogs, paddles through a pond and comes to stare at you through the fence….it is being rehabilitated: taught not to think like a canine, so that it can be returned to it natural habitat in the Drakensberg.

Nearby a group of baboons are getting up to monkey business, each of the individuals have carefully been identified and chosen to fit into and play a role in this “unnatural” troop. They will be weaned from a “fast food” diet to a natural one and dehumanised – once they are ready, they too will be released into the wild."

 

 


A new-born baby springbok needing mothering.
It came to us with the umbilical cord still attached.

Enclosures at the Centre
Enclosures at the Center


Very new baby Vervet Monkey

OPTIONAL ADD-ON ACTIVITIES:

While on your placements, you can also book some Optional Add-Ons to do before or after your Placement at the Rehabilitation Center, to make the most of your Travel Experience. The most popular choices are the safari trips from Cape Town and many volunteers use these as their means of travel to arrive at their project in Knysna..

Wildlife Safaris & Adventure Tour Combos
4-Day Surf Safari and Wildlife Adventure
1-Day Adventure Activities in Cape Town
1-Week Wildlife Rehabilitation

1-Week Whales Sharks Dolphins
Cage Dive with Sharks

This project can also be combined with any of our other projects in South Africa, or you could even do a second project in a different region of the country, thus doubling your adventure and enjoyment!

Cage diving with sharks in Cape Town
Cage diving with sharks in Cape Town

LOCATION, EXPLORING AND SIGHTSEEING:

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 vacation, which gives you some idea of how lovely the region is.

LOCATION: Yellowwood Park, Durban, South Africa
The Rehabilitation Center is located on the east coast in a suburb of Durban, called Yellowwood Park (between The Bluff and Queensburg on the map). 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 Center is close to the Reserve and the fact that food is always available at the Center, you'll see lots of birdlife scavenging food from the enclosures - and wild Monkeys are also regular visitors.

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.

EXPLORING AND SIGHTSEEING:
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 Center 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 vacation 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!

Read more about KwaZulu-Natal and its attractions

TRAVEL:
To read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country, please click here.

Support & Backup: To read about the excellent Support & Backup we provide before you leave and during your program, please click here.






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