You will be able to listen to the sounds of cats calling throughout the night
Not only will you be privileged to work with these beautiful cats, but your accommodation is also situated in close proximity to all of the cat enclosures.
You will be accompanied by other people who are very passionate about animals.
You will have the opportunity to work face to face, with big cats and other wildlife. Learn and experience how each animal behaves, reacts and what their characters are like.
Your project starts with a 2-day orientation in Johannesburg. Arrive in Joburg or Jozi, as it is known locally, and get shown around by people who know the city well. The orientation is excellent for first-time visitors to find their feet the local way and meet other volunteers on your project.
You will be picked up from the airport and taken to the hostel. Here you will be given a chance to settle down before meeting your volunteer representative. You will be given a briefing on your volunteer program and then meet other travellers and volunteers for a welcome dinner.
After breakfast you will be collected from the hostel and shown around the sites of Johannesburg like a local. We will start off with a visits to Soweto, South Africa’s biggest Township here you will have the opportunity to take some photos at the iconic Orlando Towers and Soccer City, home of the World Cup Final. We then head to a local food market where you can have a light lunch (at your own cost), shop for local arts and crafts and listen to some live music. We then head back to the central business district of Johannesburg to immerse ourselves in the regeneration of this city that has reimagined itself over 5 times. Here we take a deep dive into the architecture, history and art which is an integral part of the city scape. Please note that the tour itinerary is flexible and may change according to the group’s interests for the day. This is your personal tour of our lovely city with our local guide to show you the best sites and places.
After breakfast we will either take you directly to your project site, shuttle terminal or airport.
Our centre is located in the well-known Free State province, which borders the Northern Cape. The predator farm is situated only 30 km from the historical town of Kimberley, on the National Road (the N8). The farm is home to an abundance of animals; we are a home to 42 predators and 2 monkeys - the predators include: 4 cheetahs, 20 lions, 4 caracals, 2 servals, 1 African wild cat, 2 black-backed jackals and 9 bat-eared foxes. These animals are taken in to be cared for because of various reasons; some cannot live in the wild on their own if they are sick or were abandoned, and many are rescued from unethical processes like canned hunting and breeding for tourism purposes. When it is possible, we strive to release our animals back into the wild where they can live freely without any human interaction.
The centre was founded in 2010 by the Burger family when Chriszanne and Nicol Burger adopted 2 animals from a project where they previously work. These animals were moved to the centre and cared for by the Burger family. This action was the foundation for the continued conservation and rehabilitation work that takes place at the centre. Around this time, the Burger family learned about Canned Hunting (a method of hunting in which an animal is kept in a confined area-such as a fenced enclosure-to vastly increase the likelihood of the hunter obtaining a kill for trophy purposes), which sparked the desire to work towards the eradication of this process and rescue African cats from hazardous environments.
We are currently busy expanding the enclosures on the farm. These enclosures will be geared towards mimicking a natural area for play and roaming. Each enclosure will accommodate the specific species’ needs and consist of tree logs, a climbing area, and adequate space to roam. The centre currently has over 1000 hectares of pure Free State farmland available to expand the project and ensure the well-being of the animals in our care. We do not intend to breed with our lions or to buy in any more cubs in the future.
You will be working 6 days a week with the 7th being your day off to do what you would like.
Volunteers are involved in the daily run of the wild cat centre. These tasks vary from meat preparation, cleaning of enclosures and stimulation of animals. As a non-profit, family run farm they also facilitate tours of the farm to local visitors. Volunteers will be able to assist with these visits and even work within the curio shop. There are various projects which aim to improve the farm and well-being of the animals. The projects continuously change depending on the needs of the animals and farm at the time.
There are two different types of work on the farm:
Cleaning the enclosures & farm, feeding the animals, maintaining the enclosures, etc.
Various projects that aim to improve the farm and well-being of the animals. The projects at Felidae continuously change depending on the needs of the animals and farm at the time.
Duties that do not directly interact with the animals are still crucial to their well-being. General maintenance and cleaning of the grounds (for example: cutting grass to ensure there are no ticks, fleas, snakes, and spiders, and poop scooping); are regular tasks on the farm for the health and safety of all the animals in our care.
As a volunteer, you will be able to experience each of the various jobs on the farm; tasks are rotated among the volunteers to ensure each person has an opportunity to both help with farm maintenance and interact with the animals equally.
An early wake-up at 07:00
Breakfast with the team
Discussion of daily events and duties
During the course of the day you can be involved in tours, preparing food *, working in the enclosures, nursing any sick animals etc.
Free time to do your laundry, taking a nap, spending time with other volunteers, or helping in the preparation of an evening function
Gather around for dinner which will be a nice warm meal. You can also prepare your own food if you wish.
Just before bedtime, a quick check-in on the cats making sure everyone is settled
Then well-deserved sleep
* While we require a lot of assistance with food (meat) preparation for the animals, people who do not feel comfortable with this task will not be forced to do so.
Please note that this routine is kept as best as possible, however, from time to time there can be unavoidable changes to projects since working with animals sometimes requires a flexible schedule. The changes can also be caused by weather, conservation priorities, materials supply, or because ongoing projects have progressed more quickly or slowly than originally planned. We ask you to accept the changes - we are sure that you will enjoy the replacement projects just as much.
There is an optional social trip once a week where volunteers are able to go to the nearby town for dinner (dinner at own expense).
As the nature of the work varies, volunteers are placed under the supervision of a team leader to ensure everything runs well and give guidance where necessary. With every new arrival we also have a safety and orientation briefing where we discuss issues such as general safety in South Africa for example, what to do in the settlements, where not to go, what to do in case of an emergency, sea currents, HIV AIDS and crime. We offer all our volunteers 24/7 support and assistance.
2-day orientation in Johannesburg including 2 breakfasts & 2 dinners
Three meals a day (on project)
24-hour support and supervision
Donation to the project
Braai once a week
Certificate of appreciation
Minimum age of 18
Basic level of competency in English
Medium level of fitness
And it helps a lot if you have a sense of humor, patience, an open mind and a positive attitude!
Acceptance subject to availability
Volunteers need to be flexible and keep an open mind concerning their placements as situations can arise beyond our control which could require you to be placed at a different project than the one you have initially chosen. We will of course always do our utmost to fulfill your initial wishes but do remember that where you are going is quite different from where you are coming and as such one should be prepared for things not always going according to plan.
Volunteering and intercultural travel share a common trait: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. This program is designed for proactive individuals and groups that are prepared to adapt to the local environment and its current needs. Naturally, the scheduling and activities of our program are subject to change. Alterations in activities are mainly due to changes in local conditions, which we believe is part of what makes overseas programs the interesting adventure and incredible learning experience that they are.
Our projects range from 1 week up to approx. 30 weeks. Projects have a specified minimum stay, then it’s up to you how long you can commit. In our experience the longer you stay the more you will gain, as your understanding of the project broadens and you take on more responsibilities. Every volunteer will be given a certificate of appreciation at the end of their stay as a symbol of volunteering stay.