Volunteers on the rhino project assist at a rhino orphanage; caring for, and rehabilitating orphaned or injured rhino calves who's parents were sadly the victims of poaching.
Volunteers take part in daily life at the rhino orphanage, helping with feeding the rhino calves, cleaning them out, weekly weighing of the calves, and any veterinary care that may be needed at the time.
This project can be used by vet students as husbandry EMS hours.
Rhino poaching is currently a huge problem in South Africa, with 451 rhinos killed in 2021 alone. Volunteers on the rhino project can get involved with the fight against poaching, and make a difference, by caring for the orphans left behind.
During the project volunteers get involved with the daily running of the orphanage, and develop an understanding into the effects of the rhino poaching crisis, the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned calves, and the release process. Volunteers also come away having learnt about the ongoing monitoring, protection and conservation of the rhino species and their ecosystem in Southern Africa.
The rhino project is perfect for anyone with a love for wildlife, who wants an amazing amazing learning experience, and is also a great opportunity for veterinary students, veterinary nurses/techs, pre-vet students, and anyone considering applying for a veterinary or conservation related course in the future.
For security of the rhinos in the sanctuary, volunteers are carefully screened and selected for this project, and only two volunteers are accepted at a time.
Potential volunteers must have the following qualities:
- Hard working
- Willing to get dirty
- Physically fit
- Have a true love for wildlife and genuine concern for conservation and community
Go home with your heart full, and plenty of new knowledge and amazing memories. And leave a piece of your heart in Africa with the orphans you helped care for.
Work at the orphange is dependant on how many rhino calves are at the orphanage, and their age.
A volunteer's day starts between 5am - 7am, so be prepared to work around the clock! Calves still on milk may need between 1 and 6 feeds during the day, as well as the possibility of feeds during the night.
The morning typically starts with preparing and letting the rhinos out into their larger day time boma (enclosure), then assisting with the cleaning of their night time bomas. This means 'mucking out', on a much bigger scale! Volunteers remove the dung and old hay, as well as cleaning the rhino's shelter and water troughs.
Rhino calves are weighed once a week to check they are growing at the correct rate for their age.
Volunteers learn how to prepare milk for the calves, as well as helping to weigh and prepare hay and dried food for the rest of the day.
During the middle of the day volunteers may be asked to get involved with other duties at the orphanage, such as such as simple admin work, data input, or cleaning the kitchen. Volunteers may also get involved with community work, and other wildlife conservation work.
In the afternoons volunteers will assist carers with bringing the rhinos in for the night, before finishing up to relax for the evening.
The rhino orphanage is currently also home to two resident hippos, Charlie and Moo, who also need to be cared for and fed!
Volunteers will also be involved with other areas of wildlife conservation, and will learn about, and get involved with the following activities when available:
- Pangolin protection
- Wildlife rehabilitation
- Human-wildlife conflict
- Anti-poaching techniques
- Reserve management (fixing fences, reserve clean-up, control of alien plant species)
- Game counts
Veterinary activities such as shadowing a wildlife vet, assisting with rhino de-horning, and both clinical procedures and reserve procedures (darting/capture techniques) will be available when possible as an add-on to the rhino project.
This is at an extra cost, and based on one day per week.
(Please let us know in advance if you would like to add this to your project).
With the veterinary add-on, we aim to include the following:
- Assist with rehabilitation of wildlife
- Human-wildlife conflict and anti-poaching techniques
- Husbandry skills - handling wildlife and wildlife observation
- Physical/clinical examinations on wildlife
- Routine health care of wildlife
Conservation + The Community
Volunteers also have the opportunity to get involved with education within the local community on conservation issues, with rhino poaching as the main topic. Volunteers will also teach the community about other endangered species and how to protect them.
Wildlife Veterinary Online Course
* Volunteers on the rhino project will also have access to an Online Wildlife Veterinary Course.
This can be completed either before attendance on the project, or during quieter times and free time at the rhino sanctuary. *
Accommodation is basic but unique!
Volunteers stay in a converted shipping container, including a bedroom, bathroom, and communal kitchen.
Volunteers share a room while on the project (maximum two volunteers at a time).
Wi-fi is available to chat to friends and family back home, as well as air conditioning for the hotter months.
The project is self catering. Volunteers are taken on a weekly shopping trip to town to buy supplies.
How To Apply
Volunteers can stay for either three or four weeks. For rates, please visit the Rhino Project Rates Page.
As the Rhino Project only accepts two volunteers at a time, we prefer if you travel with a friend, and take part on the project together.
For the protection of the rhinos at the sanctuary, all volunteers are carefully screened, and will be asked to take part in a video call. The video call allows us to check we feel volunteers are the right fit for the project, and also allow you to answer any questions you may have.
The sanctuary is located in Zululand, however, the exact address of the sanctuary is only given to volunteers who have been accepted on to the project.
To apply, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow the link to our booking form below.