Living with Big Cats

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Living With Big Cats

More Info

This information guide is designed to give you, the volunteer, an insight into our unique programme. After reading this guide, should you have any unanswered questions, please feel free to contact us and we will gladly assist you.

Our sanctuary home to many orphaned and injured animals. We offer nurturing care to young, orphaned animals, as well as a “safe haven” for injured animals whilst they recover from their ‘trauma’, with the aim to rehabilitate these animals back into the wild.

Home to elephants, lions, tigers, cheetah, spotted hyena, white lions, hippo, as well as the free range game such as giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, impala, waterbuck, red hartebeest to name but a few. Our motto at our sanctuary is “Animals Come First”.

Our project is situated in the North West Province, an hour from Sandton/Johannesburg and 50 minutes from Pretoria. With 750 hectares of pristine bushveld, we fall in to the World Heritage Site – the ‘Cradle of Humankind’. We have a unique eco-system where animals, birds and man live in harmony. Over 340 species of birds identified, 3 well-stocked dams with bass, kerper, tilapia, karp as well as our animals.

We have a lodge with 26 en-suite rooms, restaurant, bar, boma for functions, weddings and conferences. We offer game drives, elephant walks, animal interactions, and of course, filming!

We are well known throughout the world for our many productions – feature films (Africano, Ollie, Who am I, to name a few), series – (Okavango, Scout Safari, Wild at Heart, Life is Wild, Julia, Soldier Soldier, Coronation Street, Silent Witness …), documentaries – (Animal Planet, Nat Geo Wild) and of course, commercials – (The Big 5, Elephants hatching out of eggs in the desert, Plascon Wall and All, The World Cup official advert ….. and many, many more). With over 480 productions under our belt, our animals are well seasoned to filming and love every minute of it!

1. Safety Guidelines

We offer you an opportunity to work / interact with all our animals, as well as to gain exposure and experience from all the activities we have to offer – cleaning, building water pools for the animals, veld/field management, caring, feeding and playing with the animals. As your safety and wellbeing is of the highest importance – the following safety rules and regulations have been put into place, and need to be followed and adhered to at all times.

By adhering to these guidelines, you ensure YOUR safety as well as the safety of fellow team members and the animals.

  1. Camps

    • Never enter ANY camps of enclosures without the guide / team leader or person in charge
    • The big lions, tigers, leopard, cheetah and hyena camps are out of bounds for this programme – these are extremely dangerous animals.
    • The lion cub camp – this is the only camp, with the team leader, that you may enter
    • All gates to all the camps are locked at all times – these need to be checked daily
    • The electric fence on all the predator enclosures need to be checked daily to make sure that the current is pulsating

  2. Animals

    • Be aware at all times that you will be working with wild animals. Some animals do not like to be handled in any way. Not all the animals on the farm are tame, therefore please do not approach any animals, unless with your team leader and are given permission to do so
    • If you, at any stage, feel uncomfortable with any of the animals, please inform or alert your team leader, who will remove you from the situation
    • Please remember – a ‘tame’ wild animal can sometimes be more dangerous than a ‘wild’ wild animals, as the ‘tame’ animal has lost its fear for humans
    • Please have respect for all animals on the farm
    • Do not walk around the farm on your own, hippo’s are extremely dangerous and need to be respected

  3. Drugs, Smoking and Alcohol

    We have a zero tolerance policy for all and any drugs. Offenders will be removed from the programme, as well as the property if this is ignored. There will also be NO refund.

    • Smoking is NOT allowed anywhere under a roof
    • Smoking is only permitted in designated areas
    • A responsible level of drinking during free time is allowed
    • If you have been drinking, even if it is one drink, you will be prohibited to go near any animals, until the alcohol is out of your system, please remember these are wild animals and you need to be coherent at all times while dealing with them.
    • No abusing of alcohol will be allowed in the volunteer housing

  4. General Safety Tips

    • Volunteers must conduct themselves in a safe and responsible manner at all times
    • Hitch-hiking is not permitted at any time
    • Travelling alone in the dark is not recommended
    • Always be aware of your surroundings
    • Don’t leave your belongings unattended
    • Never give beggars any money – speak to your team leader if you would like to make a donation
    • Don’t look like a tourist by wearing your camera around your neck
    • Do not carry large amounts of cash on you
    • Keep your cottage locked at all times, to ensure that your valuables, passport and money stay safe
    • We do not take responsibility for any lost or stolen belongings

  5. 5. Some South African Laws to be aware of

    • The legal age to drive in South Africa is 18 – you must have a valid driver’s license
    • It is illegal to talk on your cell / mobile phone whilst driving any sort of vehicle
    • It is illegal not to wear seat belts – both driver and passengers
    • The legal age to buy alcohol and cigarettes in South Africa is 18 years
    • It is illegal to drink alcohol in a public place
    • It is illegal to buy, sell, carry or use drugs, including marijuana
    • The age of sexual consent in 18. Having sex with anyone younger than 18 is a criminal offence

2. Projects

We strive to make the most of each day, giving our best to each and every animal on this farm. You, as a volunteer can assist us in making their lives the best that they can be! The projects are designed to improve the living conditions of all our animals, as well as the areas used by the guests and staff on the property.

Projects May Include (But not limited to)

  • Construction of a rock pool for the tigers to swim in
  • Building a shaded lookout to view our vultures feeding
  • Maintaining of roads (filling, scraping, leveling etc)
  • Removal of intruder plants eg. Weeds
  • Removal of alien species of plants
  • Cutting grass in lion, tiger, leopard, cheetah camps, removal of bones, cleaning and refilling water troughs
  • Trimming of trees alongside the roads
  • Working with the animals that we use for filming
  • Taking the lion cubs out for walks
  • Caring for sick and injured animals
  • Help with the fencing project – to enlarge the farm – so as to provide more grazing for the animals

3. Times

This is a Basic Roster for Weekdays

Volunteers work six days per week. Saturday is a quick check on everything on the farm, and then some fun activities are organized for you such as a visit to ‘Sterkfontein Caves’ in the Cradle of Humankind, ‘Lesedi Village’ – our local Ethnic village or ‘Chameleon Village’ where the local population sell their African curios amongst other things.

Monday - Friday

07h00 – 12h00
12h00 – 14h00 (lunch time)
14h00 – 17h00


07h00 – 09h00
10h00 – 12h00 (outing)
12h00 – 14h00 (lunch time)
14h00 – 17h00 (a game drive or elephant walk)


Your day off to relax, sleep, read or do your own thing!

An Example of Your First Week

Day 1

You and your fellow volunteers will be brought out to the farm. A brief orientation of your accommodation and living area will be done, followed by a walk around the lodge, restaurant and bar areas. Should you need to pop down to the local grocery store or pharmacy, please let us know as we will organize transport and an escort for you.

Day 2

The first day of your volunteer programme! Your team leader will get you started on the first project. You will be issued with the necessary tools to do the task, as well as helpers. The team leader will work alongside you at all times.

We also have some fun things to do as well:

  • Star gazing – looking at the stars in the Southern Hemisphere
  • Elephant Walks
  • Game Drives
  • Lion Cub walks (subject to availability of cubs)
  • Birding
  • Fishing – for both guys and girls!
  • Horse Riding
  • Movie Night – watch DVD’s
  • Hot Chocolate and Marshmallow night – this usually occurs early on in the programme, so you can all get to know each other and the different countries you all come from!

The programme is designed to be both educational and fun! It will be a “once in a lifetime experience”.

4. Your Assistance Needed

We will have members of our team assigned as “team leaders” to facilitate the smooth operation of your stay and provide guidance where necessary.

  • Work according to daily programme given to you by management
  • Clean animal enclosures
  • Assist / help prepare food for animals and feed them
  • Take care of and assist any sick and young animals
  • Gardening – weeding, raking, slashing, watering and planting of new trees and grass where necessary
  • Roadwork – leveling, filling and scraping
  • Checking of surrounding fences in enclosure and around the farm and fixing where needed
  • Destroying of intruder plants
  • Implementing of pest control
  • Driving for requested taks

Daily Duty

  • Bones etc left over from the animal feeding and broken toys must be picked up in camps and next to the boundary fences
  • Clean water dams and bowls and refresh with clean water
  • Take out food and start with preparations for feeding time
  • Feed all livestock on farm
  • Test electric fences and repair where needed
  • Gates at enclosures to be kept locked at all times. If working in an enclosure, supervision is required
  • Farm gates to be kept closed at all times for safety and security purposes

Every duty and assistance on the farm is related to the animals. Some work is to gain money to look after the animals such as buying food, medical expenses, enclosure upgrading and maintenance. Please help us where needed!

5. General

  • Protect yourself against the sun – use sunscreen and a hat
  • Laundry will be done on Wednesdays and must be handed in by yourself with a washing and ironing checklist
  • All program information is confidential
  • Should you wish to have a visitor, please arrange these visits with management
  • The farm and reserve is private property and the speed limit is 20km/h at all times
  • Please treat all fellow volunteers, management and personnel with respect
  • Bond with the animals, but do not go to them unaccompanied – ask first
  • When a guide is busy with a tour, no one is allowed within the animal enclosures
  • Baby animal feeding times can vary and will be adjusted according to their age

6. Check List of What You Need to Bring With You

  • A good pair of leather gloves
  • Casual field working clothes for hot and cold days
  • Smart clothes for functions or trips to town
  • Jackets
  • Sunscreen and a hat
  • Swimsuit and towel
  • Toiletries – shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush and other
  • Raincoat and gumboots
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Note book and pen
  • Proof of tetanus innoculations
  • First aid kit and personal medication – please advise us of any personal allergies
  • Insect repellent – Doom / Tabard especially for mosquitos
  • Medical aid/insurance card
  • Medication such as headache tablets, allergy tablets, sugar pills, plasters, antiseptic ointment, plasters and other
  • Laptop & Cellphone – if required.
  • Pocket money for food, drinks and souvenirs

The most important things to bring are a sense of humour, patience, an open mind and a positive attitude!

7. Menu


There will be cereals, milk, yoghurt, fruit, bread for toasting, as well as butter and jams, placed in the volunteer dining room.

Bacon & Eggs

Crispy bacon and fried eggs – served with toast and jams

Creamy Pap

Mealie meal porridge served with milk and sugar


Cooked oats served with milk and sugar


A staff menu will be available in the volunteer dining room.


A staff menu will be available in the volunteer dining room.

Coffee and tea will be available in the volunteer house. All other drinks will be for your own expense.

Staff Menu

Chicken Salad

Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, peppers, grilled chicken breast and salad dressing

Double Hot Dog

Roll, 2 x Vienna sausages, lettuce, tomato & mayonnaise


Pancakes served with cinnamon and sugar


A choice of either vegetable, chicken or beef wrap – served with a side salad or chips, mash, rice or baked potato


A choice of chicken or beef burger, served with chips


Toasted sandwiches: Chicken Mayonnaise, Egg & Bacon, Ham & Cheese, Cheese & Tomato, served with chips or salad


Penne pasta served with a Napolitano sauce

Bangers & Mash

Either pork or beef bangers, served with mash and gravy

Pap, Meat & Vegetables

A traditional Mealie (corn) meal pap, served with meat and vegetables

8. Laundry

For all your washing and ironing needs, please make use of our laundry facilities. Volunteer washing will be done on Wednesdays and must be handed in by you before 08h00. No personal items such as underwear will be washed. You need to collect your clean washing from the laundry (if ready) by 17h00.

R50.00 per bundle / basket (this includes water, soap, electricity and a laundry lady).

Please note that we do not take responsibility for damages sustained whilst washing and ironing.




This is to acknowledge that I am well acquainted and fully aware of and appreciate the real dangers and risks that are associated with game reserves and/or game lodges arising from the presence of wild and dangerous animals, reptiles, birds and insects and the real risk of suffering bodily harm, injury, death and/or loss to property which may arise as a result of an encounter with and/or the presence of wild animals, and/or reptiles and/or birds whilst on the premises of the reserve/lodge.

Waive all claims of whatsoever cause of nature howsoever arising against the owners of the reserve/lodge, their associates, employees and/or any person connected whether directly or indirectly with the running of the reserve / lodge and fellow guests / invitees which I may have arising out of harm, injury, death or loss suffered whilst on the premises or property of the reserve / lodge and whether arising from an act of commission or omission on the part of those hereby indemnified or anyone of them.

Indemnify and hold harmless and free, the owners of the reserve / lodge, their associates or employees and/or any person connected whether directly or indirectly with the running of the reserve / lodge and fellow guests / invitees from any and all claims of whatsoever cause or nature which may arise on behalf of my spouse and I, common law wife / husband, my children, whether minor or adult or relative and / or persons accompanying me to the reserve / lodge whether as my invitee otherwise or at all who suffer injury or loss whilst on the premises or property of the reserve / lodge and whether arising from an act of commission or omission on the part of those hereby indemnified or anyone of them.

In the event of injury, the reserve / lodge may, at its discretion and without prejudice and without admission of liability, arrange and pay for emergency medical treatment for and behalf of any guest.