Volunteer Program

There is something truly special about being up-close and personal with wild animals that need your nurturing and care! If you are passionate about wild animals and want to make a difference in their lives, then this is for you. The rewards and benefits are two-fold, we give you an experience of a lifetime and you assist us in our conservation efforts! White Tigers, Leopards, White Lions, Cheetah and a host of other endangered animals from Ring Tailed Lemurs to Meerkats and Marabou Storks are what you could be working with on a daily basis. Get down and dirty in a fun-filled program of animal care with the purrs and squeaks of satisfaction being your reward. Volunteer at the Cango Wildlife Ranch and help us to help them!

Topics:

Volunteer Program Overview 

Applicant Requirements 

Your WAV Team

A day in the Life

Orientation

Accommodation

VOLUNTEER PROGRAM OVERVIEW

As long as you are at least 18 years old, whether you are a student on a gap year, want a break from your office job, are retired, or you just want to get away from it all for a while, join us and experience a unique once in a lifetime opportunity!

Our volunteer program will give you a fascinating wildlife experience whilst you learn about our conservation efforts with these amazing animals. You will get hands on experience with our endangered animals, but you also need to be prepared to get down and dirty, as along with the pleasure of interacting with these beautiful animals, their enclosures also need maintaining!

We are based just outside Oudtshoorn, in the Western Cape, South Africa, which is 60km North of George Airport (the domestic airport you will fly to) and the Garden Route. 

Oudtshoorn is also famous for the Cango Caves and Ostriches – it is a picturesque, small tourist-driven town, nestled at the foot of the majestic Swartberg (Black Mountains) in the Little Karoo. It’s semi-arid climate ensures a large percentage of sunny days throughout the year…so don’t forget your sun block and swimming gear!!

Our aim for you, the volunteer, is that upon leaving the Ranch, you will be an ambassador for conservation and will go away with a better understanding of the problems faced by our endangered species, as well as the work and challenges that conservations centers such as ourselves face on an ongoing basis.

During your time with us you will meet our amazing staff and work side by side with them, learning from them and getting to know why they are so passionate about these animals. It is our hope that when you leave us you have made lifelong friends with our staff as well as your fellow volunteers, and that you walk away with the fantastic memories of an unforgettable experience!!!

We also have a highly successful program for Interns so if you require a more detailed program relevant to your studies, please contact us and we will happily send you our INTERN application form.  Since our Intern program is booked up well in advance, it is advisable to book as soon as you know your approximate dates. Please note; a 10% surcharge is applicable to all interns.

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APPLICANT REQUIREMENTS

No previous experience is required however you need to be fit and healthy and at least 18 years of age. You should be able to speak and understand English sufficiently to get around. You must not be scared of getting down and dirty (no make-up here!) and must obviously be extremely passionate about wild animals. Hard work is a guarantee, but the rewarding experience you will have with us is also guaranteed! Volunteers need to be at least 1,55m tall to interact with some of our adult cats but this will not hinder you with the rest of the program or animal interaction at all.

Please note, that regardless of your dietary preferences, our big cats enjoy meat and you may be required to assist in the preparation of their meals which is usually donkey and horse meat (this can also involve removing meat from the bone and working with or near the carcasses). You may also be required to clean enclosures including fecal matter.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Hands on help with our adorable cubs (dependant on mother nature delivering them!)
  • Gaining insight and knowledge into our endangered animals and breeding programs 
  • Interacting with our ambassador Cheetah
  • Working with a host of fascinating and endangered animals from Pygmy Hippos to Cape Vultures
  • Optional tours of the local and surrounding attractions and area – such as the world famous
  • Cango Caves, a working ostrich farm, elephant encounters, whale watching, shark cage diving and much more. (tours dependent on availability and time of year)
  • Making new friends and meeting new people interacting with our knowledgeable staff

PLEASE NOTE:

OUR CROCODILE CAGE DIVING WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE DURING WINTER MONTHS DUE TO COLDER TEMPERATURES. 

YOUR WAV TEAM

Your WAV Manager is Helen van Tonder, who has lived in the area for over 28 years. Helen has worked in admin for many years, but now loves working with such a diverse group of volunteers from around the world. Interaction with Cango Wildlife Ranch’s gorgeous animals are one of the highlights of her career. She is the mother of 3 sons, one daughter and a beautiful granddaughter and is enjoying the extended “mothering” involved in looking after all the Volunteers as they come and go.

Your Assistant WAV Manager is Gillian Kannemeyer. Gillian was brought up on a farm in the North Eastern Cape which instilled a love for animals and nature. After a stint in Botswana, Gill returned to South Africa to share and encourage others of the beauty that South Africa has to offer her people in its cultural diverseness.  As an artist she recognises the serenity and beauty around her, loves people and wants to share this with the wild animal volunteers at the Ranch. Her passion is life and all that it holds!

Your Senior WAV host is Anina Swart. Anina grew up in a conservation household and decided to continue in the family tradition by studying Nature Conservation. After studying she became actively involved in various aspects of conservation, including tourism, conservation legislation and admin. Simply to quote her, “A dream finally came true when I joined the WAV Hosts as I can now be a part of a team which educates, whilst at the same time learning more about the animals and conservation as a whole.” Her passion and hard work sets a wonderful tone for our program as a whole.

Your other WAV hosts are Sheree Botes, Sumari Alberts, Dedre Rupping and Stephanie Swanepoel.

Providing you with delicious, healthy meals and looking after all your requirements at both lodges is your Lodge Manager, Charlotte Pretorius, who is ably assisted by Lodge Assistants Margie Mxosana, Cynthia Nkewana, Rosetta Witbooi and Eva Hurling.

Charlotte is a retired Biology Teacher who has a passion for young people. Charlotte runs both volunteer lodges making them warm and welcoming for our volunteers after a hard day’s work and enjoys interacting on a daily basis with the volunteers in her care.

They keep both lodges hygienically clean and fresh each day and enjoy contact with the volunteers. You will always get a happy smile and loving care from them!

A DAY IN THE LIFE

Whilst we do have a routine in place, our time schedule is not fixed and may change, as we have to be ready to act in any eventuality. Interns run on a slightly different program, depending on their specific requirements.

 Below is generally a typical day as a volunteer at the Cango Wildlife Ranch. (Mon-Fri, weekends are free!)

A day in the life of a volunteer:

  • 08:00 - 10:00 MORNING DUTIES
    Cleaning tiger, cheetah, and other animal exhibits. Preparing food for our big cats and other animals. Feeding will follow.
  • 0:00-10:30 TEA TIME
    Enjoy a break before proceeding with responsibilities.
  • 10:30-12:00 PREPARATION FOR ENRICHMENT
    Preparation is done for enrichment activities to stimulate all of our animals on the ranch, to ensure that they are healthy and happy.
  • 12:00-13:00 LUNCH TIME
    Enjoy lunch with your team.
  • 13:00 - 16:30 ENRICHMENT 
    Provide various animals with enrichment toys. Notes are taken on their progress, and archived for future use. There are constant maintenance projects we expect all volunteers to get involved in.

ORIENTATION

One of your hosts will meet you on your arrival in George either at the airport or at your bus stop. The trip from George back to Oudtshoorn will take approximately 45 minutes to an hour.

Depending on how tired you are and once you have been shown around your new accommodation, you will be taken on a brief orientation tour of the area, as well as to do any essential shopping you may need to do. You will then be left to settle into your new “home away from home”.

Either on the evening of your arrival or on the following morning, your host will orientate you regarding the environment you will be working in, run through your duties, expectations, house rules etc. and answer any questions you may have.

The next morning you will be taken to the Ranch where you will be given a complete tour of the Ranch itself as well as the breeding centres. You will also be introduced to the Ranch’s directors, managers, curators and the staff that you will be working with. After some final paperwork, you will start directly on your duties.

ACCOMMODATION