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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS
Travellers Worldwide is a leading International Provider of Voluntary Projects and Work Experience Overseas


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LION AND BIG CAT CONSERVATION IN A LION SANCTUARY, NEAR BETHLEHEM IN SOUTH AFRICA

SOUTH AFRICA
CONSERVATION

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Volunteer with Lions and other big cats in a highly-regarded sanctuary for mistreated lions. The sanctuary, run by an international animal welfare charity, is the largest of its type in South Africa. It offers a new home to big cats that have been abused, kept in cramped conditions or confiscated from hunters.

The interaction between lions and humans can be absorbing and as such, being close (but safe) to lions can be a moving experience. You will get to know the animals as individuals and assisting with research into their behaviour can be very rewarding.

PLACEMENT OVERVIEW
Location: Bethlehem, Free State
Start dates: All year round, you choose your start and finish dates.
Duration:
From 4 weeks to 6 months, subject to visa requirements
Requirements: You will need to have a keen interest in animal welfare, either studying a relevant subject or with hands on experience with animals. Minimum age 17.
Compensation: Unpaid
From £1,395 excluding flights.
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Accommodation included  Food included  No qualifications required

What's included:
Arranging your Programme,
Full pre-departure support and assistance,
Payment Protection insurance
Meeting you at the nearest airport
Transfer to the Project
Accommodation
Food
In-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support
Certificate of Completion.


What's not included: Flights, travel insurance, cost of visa, return transfer to the airport.

Who can do this Project?
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 a good if you want to learn about rescue and rehabilitation of lions and other wildlife and doing voluntary work, projects abroad or study abroad.
Also available as a summer placement in South Africa or a short break activity.

The sanctuary is home to Lions and other big cats, as well as a rich variety of game species. These include Zebra, Wildebeest, Impala, Springbok, and many more.

As well as contributing to some valuable rescue and rehabilitation work you'll also carry out research into the behaviour and interactions of lions within a group, and between neighbouring lion groups.

You'll witness and be involved in the extraordinary and complex work for animal welfare and appreciate the experience of learning how highly sensitive big cats are.

You'll also enjoy some of the best countryside South Africa has to offer. The Sanctuary is situated against a backdrop of magnificent mountains, with spectacular views of the Eastern Free State Plains below. In your time off, you can visit local towns, Bethlehem and Clarens, or go further afield to the Golden Gate National Park and the stunning Drakensberg Mountains. Our representative will be able to advise and help on trips and places to visit.

WORK CONTENT
Work at the sanctuary involves caring for the lions and other big cats, monitoring their progress and behaviour, helping with visitor education and refreshments, administration and maintenance work. Typical tasks include:

  • feeding the lions and cleaning their enclosures

  • observing the behaviour of the lions and the progress of any new arrivals

  • helping with any medical treatments required

  • building new structures for enclosures and helping with maintenance work

  • helping with game drives and guided horseback tours for guests

  • getting involved with the other activities at the lodge, such as the reservation departments, presentation, accommodation, conferences, weddings, hiking trails and more

  • marketing activity, like brochure distribution to local towns and the surrounding area

  • guiding school children as part of their education program

This project is a great opportunity for someone who has a keen interest in big cats, enjoys being part of a team and is prepared to get involved in all aspects of conservation work.

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A TYPICAL DAY
You will be set a timetable that is generally Monday - Friday between 8 and 4. This does however vary dependant on the weather and animal activity.

A typical day starts with 2 hours of animal monitoring. You will either monitor the social interactions of a group or the interaction between two groups to see if they can be put together in the future. Dependant on the day of the week you will then help with the feeding of the predators which is when you recognize that despite being in captivity these are still wild animals, feeding provides the real sense of what your role is at Lionsrock; to create the most natural environment possible for these remarkable animals.

Afternoons are spent with building and/or implementing enrichment activities to enhance the lions life at Lionsrock. You will quickly find that like humans each have their own personality and what may work with one may not work with another.

You may also find yourself doing one of numerous activities to help the park including helping during educational school visits as well as tourist activities at the lodge that raise significant awareness and funds necessary for the long term success of Lionsrock.

WORKING TIMES
5 days a week, generaly flexible within the week, 2 days off not necessarily on weekends (it will be done a weekly schedule) you must be prepared to work sometimes also early mornings or until dawn, because it is the most active time for predators also in captivity

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 conserving animals in their natural environment 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!

WHAT IS 'CANNED' HUNTING?
Canned hunting is a cruel and gruesome ‘sport’ in which lions are solely bred with the sole purpose of being killed as ‘trophy’ animals. Approximately 1,000 lions per year are shot by trophy hunters that travel to South Africa from Europe and North America.

These animals are placed within fenced surroundings with no chance of escape, hunters pay between 25,000 to 45,000 euro per head. The animals are bred at specialist breeding farms where lionesses produce a litter every 6 months rather than every 2 years as it is in the wild, losing their cubs within 3 days and the unnatural frequency of breeding leads to trauma and health problems.

The cubs are raised by hand without their mothers milk which can lead to bone deformations, respiratory problems, and digestive disorders - a life of suffering, and a tourist attraction for those keen to pet or even walk a lion. Many tourists and even some volunteer programs unknowingly support this cruel lion industry, despite their best intentions. Those involved in ‘canned hunting’ disguise the truth by calling what they are doing as animal or species protection.  

There are more than 160 breeding farms in South Africa, in which more than 4,000 lions are currently threatened with being shot. This statistic becomes especially shocking when you consider there are only 3,000 lions living in the wild of South Africa. The South African government has attempted to prevent ‘canned hunting’ by including lions on the protection list. However, the lion industry is blocking this progress with a constant string of legal processes – leaving the lions being bred and hunted without any protection.

Vier Pfoten are fighting for the prohibition of ‘canned hunting’, commercial lion breeding farms and lion ‘patting’ offers. For now they have to rely on this project to support their petition and raise awareness of this issue so that others don’t unwittingly support this industry in the future.

   

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YOUR ACCOMMODATION AND TRAVEL
You'll stay in comfortable, brand new accommodation located at the heart of the sanctuary with other volunteers and some staff. There is plenty of space to relax, to get involved with cooking and even swimming in the on-site swimming pool. If you don't fancy cooking, you can enjoy discounts at the lodge restaurant.

TRAVEL:
To give as much support to this very worthwhile project as possible, we work in partnership with Oyster on this project. Oyster is an organisation like us who aim to support needy projects around the world.

You fly in to Johannesburg, where you will be met by our partner's cheery and friendly representative, Jolene. Jolene will take you up to the Sanctuary, a three hour drive from the airport.

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

ABOUT THE AREA AND THINGS TO DO IN YOUR FREE TIME:
You'll have 2 scheduled days off a week (not necessarily weekends) with a long weekend available every 4 weeks. There are many things to do in the Free State.

Bethlehem has a shopping mall and also provides nightlife with restaurants and bars. There are also numerous banks and cash machines, pharmacies, dentists and medical care.

Clarens is renowned for its arts and crafts and also has a good collection of restaurants and bars. Clarens also borders the Golden Gate National Park which is well worth a visit. Entry is free and there are walks and wildlife to be seen as well as a traditional Basoto Village Museum which costs just 50 Rand.

For those wishing to be more adventurous, there is the opportunity to go quad biking, plus white water rafting is available out of Clarens, as well as other activities.

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

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