COVID Recovery Note: We are currently not able to accept applications for this project. We recommend the Big Cat Sanctuary as an excellent alternative for ethical volunteering with lions and other big cats.
Join an award winning and internationally acclaimed sanctuary for captive born lions that cannot be rehabilitated into the wild. Drakenstein Lion Park provides these displaced lions with a home for life, where they are treated with compassion and respect and allowed to live out their lives with dignity.
As a genuine sanctuary, they are not involved in breeding or any form of commercial trade. The sanctuary has long campaigned for the abolition of canned lion hunting in South Africa. For more information about canned lion hunting and its links to lion cub petting, please see the Useful Info tab above, or refer to our FAQ.
Volunteers have the unique opportunity to join a team of dedicated animal care givers and experience the day to day running of a lion sanctuary, working for the animals and not with them. You will also have opportunities to work with the smaller chimpanzee sanctuary adjacent to the lions.
To join this project you will need to be in good physical condition and aged 18 years or older by the time you arrive. Good social skills are an advantage and a willingness to help where needed is vital as you will be part of a small team of staff and volunteers. Personal characteristics like commitment, flexibility and the ability to use your initiative will also be key. To ensure effective communication between all team members, a good understanding of the English language is also required.
Please note that this is a popular project with room for only 6 volunteers at a time. Please book as early as you can.
|Arrival Airport||Cape Town (CPT)|
|Arrival Day||Friday recommended - you can arrive earlier or over the weekend|
|Join Project On||Monday|
|Minimum Duration||1 week – includes 3 nights in Cape Town and 4 nights at the sanctuary|
|Maximum Duration||4 weeks – includes 3 nights in Cape Town and 4 nights at the sanctuary each week|
|Volunteering Hours||Approximately 8:30am - 5pm, from Monday to Friday each week|
|Main Activities||Food preparation for the lions, cleaning lion camps and grounds, monitoring visitors and more|
|Fly Home On||Friday evening (you can depart at a later date)|
|Minimum Age||You must be aged 18 years or older when you arrive|
|Availability||Available dates for each duration are shown on the top-right of this page with the option to select from several currencies.|
|Pre-arrival Support||Our experienced team is on hand to ensure you are fully prepared for your trip to South Africa|
|Airport Welcome||One of our team will be at the airport to welcome you and escort you to Ashanti Lodge|
|Accommodation||Each weekend you will stay at Ashanti Lodge in central Cape Town. At the Lion Sanctuary you will stay in a cabin close to the lion and chimpanzee enclosures|
|Food||Basic breakfasts are included at Ashanti Lodge. All other meals are self-catering|
|Vodacom Sim Card||A free, pre-registered Sim card for your phone|
|Wi-Fi||Free Wi-Fi at Ashanti Lodge. There is no Wi-Fi at the Lion Sanctuary|
|Project Transfer||We will take you to the Lion Sanctuary on your first morning|
|Orientation||On your first day at the Lion Sanctuary you will have a full orientation|
|T-Shirts||Two Lion Sanctuary T-Shirts|
|In-country Support||Our volunteer coordinators are available 24/7 for emergencies, and are on hand to help you make the most of your stay|
|Certificate||On completion of your placement we will send you a special thank you certificate to accompany your CV or resume.|
|Visas||Citizens from most countries can arrive in South Africa and stay for up to 90 days without a Visa. Please refer to our FAQ section for more details if you are unsure|
|Flights||Please refer to our FAQ section for recommendations about keeping your flight costs to a minimum|
|Insurance||We have partnered with World Nomads Insurance to give you access to great value insurance for volunteers. Please check out our Insurance page under the FAQ tab for more details.|
|Transport||You must use the Uber App on your phone to book your remaining Monday/Friday transfers between Ashanti Lodge & the Lion Sanctuary|
|Transfer back to Cape Town Airport||Uber works really well in Cape Town and is the best value option for this.|
You can expect to be busy from 08:30 to 17:00 from Monday to Friday, with a 1-hour lunch break at around noon. You will have the weekends off to explore Cape Town.
General volunteer activities will include but not be limited to the following:
A local taxi service is available for trips out in your spare time. There is a 9pm curfew at the volunteer camp, so you will need to be back by then if you do pop out for a meal, drinks or shopping.
Every weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday night), you will stay at Ashanti Lodge, Cape Town’s best backpackers. During the week (Monday to Thursday night) you will stay in basic shared accommodation at the Lion Sanctuary not far from the lion and chimpanzee enclosures. The rooms are equipped with single beds, a small wardrobe and a small drawer unit.
Here are some useful things to know about the volunteer camp:
Budgeting: Depending on your appetite and lifestyle, we suggest that you allow about £60 / U$100 per week for food, entertainment and other personal daily needs. If you like to eat out a lot or enjoy more than a few drinks you should allow for this too.
The Lion Sanctuary is located near Paarl, about a 40-minute drive from Cape Town in South Africa.
Your arrival airport is Cape Town (CPT)
Canned Lion Hunting explained
Every year thousands of people visit facilities where they can interact with lion cubs. Every day, a captive bred lion is killed in a canned hunt. A canned hunt is one where a captive bred animal is shot in an enclosed area. Trophy hunters pay huge sums of money to shoot these defenceless animals. The animals are often drugged, and have no avenue of escape, providing for an easy shot at close range.
The truth is that these lions are the product of factory farming. The cubs are taken from their mothers so that they can produce another litter in six months' time, as opposed to the two years it would take if she had the opportunity to raise her own offspring.
These factory farmed cubs are often kept in unsuitable cages with little regard for their social requirements. For a fee you can play with them and have your photograph taken with them. Some of these facilities even attract volunteers with a seemingly plausible 'conservation' cover story. These volunteers spend time feeding the cubs and playing with them, completely unaware of the real fate awaiting these lions.
What happens to these human imprinted animals when they have outgrown their usefulness?
Do these lion cubs benefit from this forced interaction?
What possible enjoyment can they derive from being pawed, picked up and being posed with all day long, day after day, until they have grown too big?
Are these animals part of breeding programmes that will save lions from extinction?
These inbred, human imprinted and psychologically damaged animals have absolutely no conservation value.
What about your safety?
If you are presented with the opportunity of playing with a lion cub, first ask:
The operators of facilities with lion cubs often have all the answers, but if you start asking these questions you will at some point be faced with a hostile response.
If you are are given an opportunity to play with a lion cub, we urge you to practice responsible tourism and respond with a resounding NO!