Rhino Orphanage Care for Wild

Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary Volunteer Project South Africa

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This centre is South Africa's largest specialist facility for rhino rehabilitation. The centre takes care of rhino calves that have been orphaned due to the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa. Many of the rhinos arrive from the Kruger National Park area and many have sustained serious injuries in the attacks that have killed their mothers. They require intensive care - volunteers will sometimes sleep out in an enclosure to help the little ones settle in, and will also take responsibility for feeding them throughout the night. Older rhino’s are socialized with other rhino in larger enclosures and are carefully monitored in a scientific behavioral observation programme.

Founded by Petronel Nieuwoudt in 2001, Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary is the biggest orphan rhino orphanage and sanctuary in the world. The vision of the centre is to secure free ranging African Rhinocerous in protected sanctuaries across Africa, to ensure the survival of the species for furture generations. Baby rhinos that are orphaned in the wild rarely survive. The mission of the centre is to rescue every rhino that is orphaned, to heal them and to provide a totally secure environment where they can grow, roam free, and breed to ensure that there will always be rhinos in Africa. Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary NPC is developing the existing rehabilitation centre and additional land into a secure stronghold which will eventually accommodate 100 black and white rhinos in a viable secure breeding population. Ultimately, it is the goal of the sanctuary to aid in the process of re-maximizing the rhino population with the intention of preserving the species for future generations.

Despite intense counter poaching efforts, rhinos continue to be poached at unprecedented levels throughout South Africa. The centre is developing a concise strategy to ensure the safety and security of the rhinos under the centres care, and is committed to maintaining the highest level of protection. Such security measures will include (but are not limited to) 24/7 monitoring of individual animal groups, highly trained armed game scouts, mobile response units, communications network, crime intelligence, intense surveillance and live video monitoring, trained counter poaching dogs and their respective handlers, watch towers, electrified fencing, and aerial support.
  • Age: min.18 - max. 70
  • Location: Nelspruit, Mpumalanga province
  • Requirements: You need to be physically fit and at least 18 years old. Furthermore, you don’t mind to get your hands dirty.
  • Group size: max 30 participants (divided into groups of 6 - 8 participants)
  • Project duration: 1 week - 12 weeks
  • Laundry: Laundry can be done at the washing facility.
  • WIFI: no, but you can purchase a local South African simcard and buy data
  • Linen/towels: Linen is provided, please bring your own towels with
The sanctuary is located on a beautiful game reserve in the heartland of Mpumalanga, South Africa. Just 3,5 hours from Johannesburg and only half an hour from Nelspruit – Mbombela.

You need to be physically fit and at least 18 years old. No qualifications or previous experience is necessary. You will receive training on site.

Keep in mind that this is a project for hard workers. The needs of the animals come first and you might not have much free time. If you want to make sure you have time to explore the country it might be a good idea to spare some extra days before your departure.

When you arrive at the volunteer site you will properly be inducted into the operating systems of the sanctuary, ensuring you are fully trained and you will be allocated to your team and your new surroundings. The safety induction is critical to ensure you understand all safety aspects of the working environment, which has dangerous animals, and at times equipment.

Accommodation & meals
You will be staying in a cabin at the sanctuary together with 2 – 4 other volunteers. Each cabin has either two single beds or two bunk beds, and a bathroom with a toilet and shower which generally provides hot water and electrical outlets. Beddings as well as linen is provided but you will have to bring you own towel.

There are laundry facilities for volunteers but you are required to bring your own washing powder. Electricity is freely available, but bear in mind it can be inconsistent and that you have to bring an adapter. You can purchase a South African simcard upon arrival in South Africa and buy data to connect to the internet. At certain spots at the sanctuary you there is connection, allowing you to connect to your own internet and contact home.

Three meals per day are provided and served at the center. If you have any dietary requirements please make us aware prior to your arrival. (kindly note, an additional fee will be charged for vegan or gluten free an additional fee of 150 ZAR per day is added to the fee) Please note that if you wish to purchase any additional snacks there will be shop runs each week.

Your role
As a volunteer you will learn the processes involved in caring for sick and orphaned animals and will become responsible for the continued development of the animals. You will learn how to do the precise preparation of the formula for the smaller rhinos, which are being hand-reared. The volunteer team will lead the bottle-feeding and keep careful records of these rhinos feeding behavior, weight gain and development.

To manage your expectations for this program, please keep in mind that the center’s aim is to eventually release the rhino’s. The interaction between humans and rhinos are therefore kept at an absolute minimum. The interaction with animals also depend on the animals that are at the centre during your stay. As said, there is only little interaction with young animals, once they grow older there is no interaction with them as they should only be imprinted by other animals.

How does a typical day look like?
06:00 AM Wake up and get ready
07:00 AM Feeding animals at the hospital, giving milk to any baby animals, cleaning, updating animal records and ensuring that food supplies are in stock.
12:00 AM Lunch/down time
13:00 / 14.00AM Getting involved with current game farm activities
15:00 / 16:00 AM Feeding time at the hospital
18:00 AM Supper
19:00 AM Relaxation time

The work hours and free time depend completely on the needs of the animals. At most days you will start working around 7 AM until late afternoon. If there are small baby rhinos that need additional care, you might have to work night shifts as well.
Arriving on Tuesdays and departing on Wednesdays.

Introduction rate
As this is a paid-for volunteering programme, the funds raised help tremendously to keep the non-profit organisation running, and the animals safe and healthy.

Duration 2018 Fee
16 days 2350 USD
23 days 3200 USD
4 weeks 4050 USD

Rates includes
  • Accommodation in shared rooms
  • 3 Meals a day
  • Transfer from Nelspruit to the project
  • Dedicated support staff
Rates excludes
  • Flights and travel to Nelspruit
  • Travel Insurance(if required)
  • Any extra excursions/trips/souvenirs
  • Snacks
Click here to sign up.