Cheetah Centre

South Africa

Work with cheetahs and assist with reserve maintenance. Join a team to help save cheetahs from extinction through education and a long-term reintroduction project. Provide care and monitor the behaviour of captive-bred cheetahs and other animals at the centre. Learn about African wildlife conservation and join a 4 day trip to the world-famous Kruger National Park.

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Key Info

key info
  • Location: Free State
  • Start dates: 1st and 15th of each month
  • Duration: 2 – 4 weeks
  • Age requirement: 18 - 55
  • Availability: Fully booked
  • Cost: From £995 / €1165 / $1275 - see fees table below

Project Information

Volunteer role: What will I be doing?

The project is designed to introduce you to the fascinating wildlife that Africa has to offer and to work closely with the incredible cheetah and around 50 other animals including servals, caracals, owls plus many others.

Volunteers are involved in the day to day husbandry of the cheetahs and other animals on site. The enclosures are cleaned on a daily basis and volunteers are responsible for this. Volunteers also feed the cheetahs and other animals in the afternoons (under supervision).

Activities that volunteers are involved in include:

  • Enclosure Maintenance: cleaning the enclosures and shelters to prevent a build-up of bacteria or disease as cheetahs are very sensitive and prone to infection. This also involves keeping the grass very short in the enclosures to control ticks and other external parasites
  • Enclosure Improvements: building shelters for protection and enrichment, and providing the cheetahs with the best possible facilities within their enclosures
  • Meat Preparation*: removing the flesh from the horse or donkey, grinding it up, weighing it out, bagging it up and freezing it so that exactly what is needed can be defrosted each day as cheetahs will only eat fresh meat

* Regardless of your dietary preferences, it is important to note that you are expected to be fully involved in the preparation of meat for feeding the cheetahs. This involves removing meat from the bone. You will be fully supervised at all times.

As part of this project, you will have the opportunity to go on a 4 day trip to Kruger National Park which is home to the Big 5 (lion, elephant, leopard, rhino and buffalo) and allows you to see the best of Africa’s wildlife in its natural habitat.

The Kruger trip is included for all volunteers who participate in the project for 4 weeks. 2 and 3 week volunteers can arrange to do the trip for an additional cost if they start on the 15th of the month.

Working days and hours

Volunteers normally work for 5.5 days per week. The day usually starts at 7am and ends around 5.30pm, with regular breaks.

Other volunteers

There are usually 4-6 volunteers at the project at any one time with a maximum of 8.

Volunteer reviews

Read about volunteer experiences and challenges in our South Africa Cheetah Centre reviews.

Where will I be living?

You’ll be living on the reserve which is located near Parys, a small town in the Free State, which is approximately 90 minutes from Johannesburg.

The volunteer house is located on site and is just metres away from the cheetahs. It is comfortable and cleaned on a regular basis. The rooms are shared on a same sex basis between 2 and 4 people and each room has a bathroom. There are areas for socialising in and these contain a TV and DVD player. There is also WIFI internet access.

You can use your free time to visit some of the sights the local area has to offer such as curio markets, a cultural village, an elephant sanctuary, a monkey sanctuary, a theme park, shopping at the local mall or visiting a spa. There are also river rafting, quad biking, abseiling and paintballing activities available. Sunday afternoons are normally spent relaxing at the volunteer accommodation or by the river.

How is the Cheetah Reintroduction project making a difference?

Cheetahs are currently listed as ‘vulnerable’ according to the IUCN red list (with the next categories being endangered, critically endangered and extinct in the wild). The known cheetah population in the wild is approximately 7,500 adult animals. The decline is primarily due to:

  • Loss of habitat, due to human encroachment;
  • Loss of prey, directly linked to loss of habitat;
  • Hunting, there are still people who wish to hunt these beautiful animals;
  • Livestock protection, many farmers believe that cheetahs are preying on their livestock, and therefore shoot, trap or poison cheetahs on their land;
  • Limited genetic diversity, cheetahs are very inbred as a species, resulting in low sperm counts in males.

Through educating local people who visit the centre, they hope to inspire and encourage people to protect future generations.

The centre is home to over 50 animals, many of which have been rescued in the local area. The centre is able to rehabilitate these animals and give them a comfortable home.

What's Included?

Before you go:

  • Carefully selected and vetted volunteer project
  • Support from our friendly and highly experienced Pod UK team
  • Single point of contact - Ellie is your dedicated placement manager
  • In-depth Volunteering Guide on your volunteering placement
  • Travel information - visa, health and safety advice
  • Access to specialist travel insurance at exclusive rates
  • Recommended travel agency for flights and tours
  • Access to special deals and resources
  • Fundraising guide and support
  • Financial protection for monies paid to Pod

On your placement:

  • Animal care volunteering placement
  • Airport pick up (Johannesburg) and return transfers
  • Accommodation - a shared room
  • Food - all main meals
  • Induction and training
  • 4 day trip to Kruger National Park (for all 4 week volunteers and for 2 / 3 week volunteers who start on the 15th)
  • Polo shirt
  • Onsite support from local team
  • Support from Pod UK office by phone and email
  • 24/7 emergency back up
  • Incident Management and Emergency Response Plans

On your return:

  • Contact from your placement manager
  • Feedback scheme
  • Volunteering certificate (on request)
  • References (on request)
  • Member of the Pod community

Not included: Flights, travel insurance, visa (if required). Budgeting guidance is provided in our Volunteering Guide which we will email you when you apply.

Pod Volunteer is run as a non-profit organisation. Fee levels are set to match costs and any surplus monies are distributed to the projects we work with via the Pod Charity.
Price table
2 weeks £995 GB Pounds
2 weeks incl Kruger trip £1525 GB Pounds
3 weeks £1395 GB Pounds
3 weeks incl Kruger trip £1795 GB Pounds
4 weeks incl Kruger trip £1995 GB Pounds
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Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com

5

cheetahs cared for

"Pod is a no nonsense volunteer organisation looking to change lives"Cian

Ellie

Pod UK Specialist

Ellie has visited the project, apply and you will hear from her soon!

We look forward to receiving your application! There is no commitment by applying and we will send more information.

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VOLUNTEER REVIEWS

  • South Africa Cheetah Reintroduction volunteer - Beth

    "I had a brilliant time volunteering at the project and visiting Kruger National Park. The experience has helped make up my mind as to the career path I wish to take after finishing my university degree."

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • South Africa Cheetah Reintroduction volunteer - Blake

    "I made so many new friends, connected with animals and learned so many new things I will bring with me for the rest of my life. I will absolutely be going back to this project. It was 100% absolutely amazing."

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • South Africa Cheetah Reintroduction volunteer - Stephanie

    "My time at the project was priceless. I learned so much valuable information and had a life changing experience working with these majestic animals. The cheetahs have beautiful enclosures and the best care possible."

    Read more volunteer reviews

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AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal