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Care for Wild Africa Rhino Sanctuary

Roll up your sleeves and help save Africa’s rhino population.

Surrounded by 7,500 acres (3,000ha) of wildlife reserve, Care for Wild Africa Rhino Sanctuary is one of the largest – and arguably the most successful – rhino sanctuaries in the world. Its gates are closed to tourists but this experience gives you the opportunity to live and work inside this renowned wildlife conservation project.

From treating injured animals to bottle-feeding orphaned calves, you’ll find yourself working hands-on in Africa’s fight to save the rhino. Spending time up close with amazing creatures, you’ll also get an unrivalled insight into their behaviour and individual personalities.

As well as rhino, Care for Wild Africa Rhino Sanctuary looks after many other species, so you could also find yourself helping to care for hippo, lions, meerkats, antelope and even birds of prey among others. All the time, you’ll be learning about wildlife care from leading conservationists.

Rhino Rating

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This tells you how physical the experience is. More >

4 out of 5 rhino rating
Category

Wildlife Care and Rehabilitation

Species

White rhino, black rhino, lion, hippo, antelope

Impact

Wildlife rehabilitation
Veterinary nursing
Rhino conservation

Country

  South Africa

View all
  • Highlights
  • Do
  • Learn
  • News
  • Costs

HIGHLIGHTS

No tourists 

Care for Wild Africa Rhino Sanctuary is a private wildlife rehabilitation centre that exists solely to provide the best possible care for animals. It doesn’t admit paying visitors or safari tours.

Rhino specialists

Care for Wild Africa Rhino Sanctuary’s project leader Petronel Nieuwoudt is one of the world’s leading experts in the rehabilitation of rhino, with an excellent track record of releasing animals successfully into the wild.

Fully accredited

Care for Wild Africa Rhino Sanctuary is the only rhino rehabilitation centre accredited by the National Parks board of South Africa.

Excellent location

Just 3.5 hours from Johannesburg and only half an hour from the provincial capital, Mbombela (Nelspruit), Care for Wild Africa Rhino Sanctuary has easy access to all the facilities of a major city. However, it’s also surrounded by 7,500 acres (3,000ha) of wilderness, giving you the feeling of true isolation.

Anti-poaching patrols

Care for Wild Africa Rhino Sanctuary’s horseback and dog anti-poaching unit are based on-site, giving the project broader conservation impact across the local region.

DO

As a volunteer at Care for Wild Africa Rhino Sanctuary your role will be very hands-on. Depending on the animals being cared for and your areas of interest, you’ll get involved in many activities.

This is how you will help:

Rehabilitation, care and husbandry

As part of a dedicated team, you’ll help get animals back to full health and begin their long journey towards release back into the wild. Where a successful release is not possible, you’ll instead help to create a sanctuary for the animals to stay as long-term residents.

  • Provide animal care and husbandry for orphaned rhino
  • Prepare animal feeds and provide hands-on help with feeding
  • Stabilise newly arrived orphaned calves and assist in emergency medical support
  • Integrate stabilised calves into a group of similar-aged individuals
  • Enrich animals’ lives through fitness, play and creating a natural setting in captivity
  • Occasionally assist in bringing older rhinos that spend the day in the wild back to the protection of the centre for the night
  • Participate in the vital daily routine of the centre, including mucking out the animals’ living spaces, cleaning their water troughs and the bottles used to feed rhino calves

Research, monitoring and practical conservation work

Volunteers like you are vital to the success and day-to-day running of Care for Wild.

  • Get your hands dirty cleaning and maintaining wildlife enclosures
  • Monitor the social dynamics within the rhino groups
  • Assist with researching rhino stress hormone levels (seasonal)

Veterinary nursing

Most animals arrive at wildlife rehabilitation centres with some level of injury or trauma. Baby rhino in particular arrive severely traumatised, having suffered the loss of their mother, attacks by poachers and predators. Depending on your level of experience, you’ll work as a vet or nursing assistant to treat wounds and infections, as well as providing intensive care.

  • Assist with the treatment and care of injured animals
  • Help dress wounds, give medical treatment and monitor sick animals
  • Remove ticks by hand and apply insecticides
  • Perform regular health checks
  • Help prepare a nutritious diet

Caring for young wildlife

Care for Wild Africa Rhino Sanctuary’s committed and experienced team will provide detailed lectures on the theory behind hand-rearing and infant care. You’ll also take responsibility for the development of individual baby rhino.

  • Assist the conservation team in hand-rearing orphaned rhinos and other animals
  • Prepare milk formula for the youngest animals
  • Bottle-feed young rhino and keep records of feeding behaviour, weight gain and development
  • Assist with the integration of young rhinos into a crash (the collective noun for a group of rhino)

LEARN

As well as gaining all kinds of practical work experience (which you can read about under the ‘do’ tab), you’ll learn about the behaviour, biology and conservation of rhino and other species.

Conservation

  • Rhino poaching and the crisis of orphaned calves in the Kruger National Park
  • Rhino rescue operations
  • The reasons for the decline of the species
  • The role of the National Parks Board in protecting preserved areas
  • Research the most effective rehabilitation strategies

Ecology

  • The natural environment for rhino and other African species
  • The vital role rhino play in the wider ecosystem as an ‘umbrella species’

Biology

  • The biology and differences between African white and black rhino
  • Rhino physiology
  • How rhino groups interact in the wild
  • The natural diet of white and black rhinos in the wild

Behaviour

  • The behaviour of rhino in the wild as well as in captivity
  • How to create an emotionally suitable environment for orphaned rhino
  • How rhinos communicate and interact with each other
COSTS

Our costs include:

Accommodation

Airport Meet & Greet

Transfers

24/7 Support

Personal Guidance

Meals

Cost Calculator

TOTAL COST: £0000

Looking for something bespoke?

You can volunteer at more than one project during your time in Africa. Please contact us for a bespoke quote including travel arrangements between locations.

Payment

Costs are subject to change but will be confirmed in writing at the time of booking.

If you are considering volunteering at Care for Wild, do it. Yes, it is hard work. Yes, you will be tired. Yes, you will smell of dung, teff and milk. Yes, you will get up at early hours. But trust me when I say it is all so worth it.

The projects do require a lot of hard work, but you do gain a lot of new skills and experiences. You also meet a lot of like-minded people and make good friends (so travelling alone is fine). 

I’ve been back four times and each time my experience has been unique and exceeded all my expectations.

It may not be helping on the front-line to stop the poaching but helping it is, not for one's own satisfaction but for the good of the Rhino species as a whole and we would recommend it to anyone.

ACE coordinated this for us as well as implementing all of the connecting travel arrangements. They were a pleasure to deal with, beginning with Ellie in the main office in the UK. She and I had several phone conversations before finalizing which projects my husband and I would participate in, as I wanted to make sure our (mature) ages would not be an issue.

ACE is an amazing organisation and I would definitely recommend going on one of their trips. ACE was there right when we arrived in South Africa and also when we left to make sure we were okay, safe, and well taken care of. You really get treated like family with this organisation and get to participate in the most unforgettable and life-changing experiences. I already can’t wait to go on another trip with ACE!

From helping us work out which volunteering experience would suit best, to making sure we knew exactly when and where to be in country, we found the level of service from ACE to be exceptional. So much so that we want to continue helping them with their great work supporting meaningful conservation projects in Africa, with the right type of volunteer.

I would highly recommend the Shimongwe Wildlife Veterinary Experience to anyone with a veterinary background, whether that be a vet/vet student or veterinary nurse/nurse student, who has an interest in wildlife and conservation and wants to test themselves and take their veterinary skills and knowledge to the next level.

I will never EVER forget the rhinos. The sounds they make, the look in their eyes, the way their skin feels, the way the babies sleep next to each other, the way they walk over to you for their milk. I’ll never forget the people I met there either.

What Makes Us Different?

Southern Africa's original conservation travel company

We are qualified zoologists and conservationists

Personal guidance before you book

Join real wildlife conservation projects

Enjoy total peace of mind, with 24/7 in-country support

Empower vital conservation initiatives

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