African Conservation Experience: Care for Wild Africa

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Volunteering at Care for Wild Africa, you will be at the heart of a new facility focussed on the care and conservation of wild animals, ensuring they continue to proudly roam through Africa's majestic landscapes.

As a volunteer you will be focussed on hand rearing, infant care and nutrition of varied species on a stunning game reserve and nature estate in South Africa, home to giraffe, wildebeest, waterbuck, kudu and primates.

Care for Wild's mission is to care for wildlife of all forms and sizes to make an attempt to help the continuation of the species and to ensure wild animals continue to roam proudly and freely in Africa's majestic landscapes. You are directly involved in fulfilling these aims and in the continuing development of the wildlife care facility, which relies on volunteers to continue.

Questions & Answers


based on 15 reviews
  • Impact 8.6
  • Support 9.1
  • Fun 8.3
  • Value 8.9
  • Safety 8.7
Showing 1 - 15 of 15
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Predator and Elephant Study in Botswana

Traveling with ACE to the Okavango Delta in Botswana was an amazing experience. I traveled to Concession 43 in June 2017 to work on a elephant and predator study, which included several days stay on an island in the Okavango.

While there we worked with local researchers to measure abundance of a variety of game on the concession. This included lion, leopard, gemsbok, roan, wild dog, and many other species. During my stay we saw several hundred elephant, something that is now impossible throughout most of Africa.

The typical days were variable, and usually included several hours of game drives to conduct line transects to collect data for use in a multi-year survey of the area. This trips can be rough at times, as the trails are unkept and the temperature changes dramatically throughout the day.

The team I worked with was excellent, and ACE's expedition staff is second-to-none. The staff is highly experienced in conservation work and knowledgeable of the region. Planning the trip and arriving on location was easy, as their office staff was helpful every step of the process.

I highly recommend traveling with ACE to the region. The trip was unlike any other, and a valuable experience for conservationists and adventurers alike.

Yes, I recommend this program
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I am an older person, now 57 years, and have been 3 times and will be returning in March and again in January 2015.
I have read the reviews and decided to do mine as well.
At home, in Australia, I am a wildlife carer so go over there with certain standards in mind of how animals in care should be treated and with Petronel as Commander-in-Chief, I absolutely love working with her and for her! The animals are her main concern and she is very generous with her knowledge and the sharing of that knowledge and my sometimes endless questions about animals I am helping care for. It is definitely a learning experience, you must ask the questions and observe the animals and no matter how many times I go, there is always plenty to learn from Petronel and her two co-ordinators, Angelique and Sam.
I am surprised by someone's comments regarding the lack of respect by them to us as I found them both to be very helpful and could ask them anything and an answer would come back to me, not necessarily right there and then, but within a reasonable time frame, as they both always have a lot on their plates with the animals in care, jobs to be done not to mention looking after all those volunteers.
My day's are very busy, which is what I want and the purpose of me going over there. Each team has their animals to care for, which involves cleaning out cages, feeding and monitoring each animal in care. Any problem is reported to the co-ordinators and they will get back to you on those problems. All three, Petronel, Angelique and Sam, are extremely approachable with any issue I have ever brought up and listen to what is said before answering my concerns or questions.
My spare time is usually spent redoing cages for animals in care or preparing newly built cages for animals to go into, which is hard work but extremely rewarding to know you have made a better home for an animal that deserves it!
Another thing that surprised me was comments about animals coming in and not being released, white lions was one that was mentioned. When animals come into care, Petronel does not choose which ones she wants, they are coming to her because they are orphaned, injured or needing a better place to be. The animals need to be in top condition and a certain age to be released and they cannot be released without certain protocol. There are a number of regulations and redtape that must be done in order to release an animal back to the wild and not all animals are that easy to release back to the wild. White lions would be one of those as they only come from certain small populations, so you cannot be releasing them in parks where they don't exist to begin with and you also have to be extremely knowledgeable about what populations do exist otherwise new animals coming in will be killed by territorial animals already in place. A lot must be considered to release an animal into the wild and it is not a decision to rush into as Petronel has brought an animal back to good condition, with our help, and wishes that animal to have a long-term future! Always ask anything you wish to know regarding animals, and please do not make assumptions about what is being done. Animals I have cared for in the past, have certainly been released back into Game Reserves.
If you have a love of wildlife, then this is one place I highly recommend as each time I return, I have so many amazing experiences and to know that I have helped animals get into a better place is a very rewarding experience. I learn a lot, as I ask a lot and with the small staff that Petronel has, they have never shown me anything other than friendliness and a great attitude for a busy working day and lending a hand wherever and whenever it is required! We have regular lectures on given subjects or I have requested a subject that interests me as well. You can learn so much by sitting and observing an animal and you will never get to see their different behaviours in the wild like you do watching them at Khulula Wild Care.
I am also going to mention the ACE representative for Khulula as Martin has been specifically mentioned in previous reviews. I have had some communications with him over transfers and minor matters and he was always polite and punctual with his responses. On this last visit, I saw for myself how exceptional he was when a young 18 year old volunteer had serious medical problems and Martin came from Johannesburg and helped this young female through hospital trauma and surgery in what was I would have thought, well above his job description! He made what was a very difficult time for her, as easy as possible as he handled all those details that her family would have had they been here and she was visited very regularly by Khulula staff to ensure her time in hospital prior to surgery and post surgery went as well as it could. At no time did I ever hear staff complain of this extra burden, they seemed to think it was part of their daily programme and the volunteer even came back to rest before flying home and backed up what I was seeing from all involved, Petronel and staff and of course, Martin!
I was not really involved with the social/fun side and that was my choice. Certainly my other 3 team members on my last visit, were a fantastic group of young women, and they were hard workers and they had a lot of fun working and playing, and that was something I enjoyed as I like being able to love my work, and listening to them talk, dance and sing away the working day, made me love my time at Khulula even more than usual - so thanks to Kerry, Alex and Lauren!

How can this program be improved?
This is correct and if I could change one thing, it would be that volunteers that came here had a good attitude, came to work and have fun, do what needs to be done, help each other - on your own team or whoever needs help and show respect to all the staff and other volunteers!
Yes, I recommend this program
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An African Dream

I had always wanted to travel abroad while I was in college but it wasn't until I had graduated that I made this dream a reality. I spent two weeks at Khulula Care for Wild and it was fantastic, I wish I could have stayed a lot longer. It was definitely not all fun and games, there was a fair amount of work, but it was a very informative and rewarding experience. Between cleaning rhino pens, to bottle feeding a variety of youngsters, playing with the resident animals, and a variety of other activities there was never a dull moment.

There was also an educational part of the trip. Other than just learning information about the various species as you cared for them, there were lectures by the staff and field trips onto the reservation to learn about the local ecosystem. You also get chances to go into town and see attractions in the local area. Most volunteers get the opportunity to go on a safari in near-by Kruger National Park, which was a big highlight.

The staff are all friendly and always willing to help. Even the staff "behind the scenes" that helped me book the program and such were great. You are met at the airport and taken care of every step of the way, I was never worried about getting lost or feeling alone. The food is also great, you are responsible for your own snacks and drinks, but the staff provide 3 meals a day and they were always delicious. The sleeping quarters are great as well.

How can this program be improved?
I would stay longer. I was there for 2 weeks and I had a blast, but I feel like a longer stay would have allowed me to do more.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Khulula (Care For Wild) is life changing

Care for Wild will always have a special place in my heart. The people and the animals and the place were so wonderful. Angelique (animal coordinator) and Petronel (owner) were incredible and so inspirational. Myself, the staff and the other volunteers became like a family together and if I had the money, I would go back. All the time. I had never experienced more fun and hard work in all my life. I fell in love with rhinos of all creatures (they're the best!!) and learned so much about animal rehabilitation.
It is a smaller and more intimate setting which I enjoyed, and it is a TRUE rehab center as they release animals as often as they can. While I was there they did a few soft releases on some bush babies and owls. The following weeks after I left they released Didi, a beautiful rhino, and a handful of lion cubs.
Care For Wild is such a beautiful place that will strengthen your passion for wildlife and give you one of the best experiences of your life. I am so blessed to have been, and still am a part of the CFW family and I would recommend it to anyone to volunteer here!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Unforgettable, but not perfect!

Care for Wild is doing much needed conservation work when it comes to Rhinos. Rhino calves that have been orphaned by poachers killing their mothers need a place to take care of them and this is definitely it. Care for Wild has mastered rhino rehab, and this is very important and rewarding work that will change your life! They is so much that Petronel can teach you about saving wildlife. She is amazing at her job.

However I do have issues with other rehabilitation done on site. They are not very upfront with volunteers about the reality of predator rehab. Those lovely white lion cubs you cuddle and go on walks with will never be release back into the wild. Simply because there is no wild to release them in. The only option for lions are private reserves and game farms. It was never made clear, or I could never be sure where the lions would be released to. Game farms of course use lions for canned hunting. Perhaps this has changed with the new facility, maybe they hope to keep the lions on site. I hope so. Either way, Care for Wild should educate their volunteers about predator rehab.

I also didn't like the serval/caracal breeding done. It's one thing to take in orphans, but another to breed kittens and then interfere and make them unreleasable.

I know they are in an relocation/expansion process right now and I have seen photos of much larger rhino bomas which makes me very happy!
I hope they are also providing larger flight cages for the birds of prey. The cages at the old castle didn't allow for much active flight that birds need to maintain flight muscles.

The volunteer co-ordinators could use some training in how to be professional with their volunteers. The volunteers are only there to help. They've travelled to South Africa to donate their time and money to help rehabilitate. I don't believe the co-ordinator always appreciated that fact.

If you choose to this program, go there knowing what it is and that you won't get to release any animals. But you can still help provide a necessary service to wildlife. Especially saving a species like the white rhino.

One P.S. really more of a question. I see they have a hippo babe at the centre now. I have concerns with this. Hippos are dangerous creatures. Most hand raised hippos end up killing their handlers. I know with out a doubt that they will limit the volunteers interactions with eMMa when she becomes a dangerous size(like they do with rhinos). However I know it will be difficult for the co-ordinators to start staying out of her boma once such a strong bond is formed. Please be safe everyone!

How can this program be improved?
More upfront education for volunteers.

More respect for volunteers from co-ordinators.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Cant wait to go back

I went in 2010 for a month on my own straight out of school. It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life! I loved every part of it! Everyone there was amazing and I made life long friends.
I have plans to return and to stay for as long as I can as soon as I get the money and my act together!
If you are considering volunteering....volunteer here you wont regret it!

Words cannot describe how much the place means to me and the life long memories I have and I cannot wait to come back!

Yes, I recommend this program
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The Best Experience

I went to Care For Wild this summer not knowing what to expect but from the moment I arrived I knew that 2 weeks would never be enough! The staff are enthusiastic, well organised, fun and knowledgeable and it is clear that the animals are the most important things.

The site has everything you need for an amazing experience, the setting is stunning, the animal enclosures are specially built and the accommodation is comfortable and cosy.

There is a daily routine and the tasks are well structured and organised to make sure that all of the animals receive the specialist that they require. However, you never know what new animals could arrive while you're there.

Overall I felt extremely well looked after, Care For Wild was like one great big family and I can't wait to go back and as soon as possible. There is no other place where you can get so close to these amazing animals and make a real difference to their care as part of a close and friendly team. you will never regret this amazing experience.

Yes, I recommend this program
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The best thing that ever happened to me

I have been to Khulula three times and am currently in the process of booking my fourth. For someone who necessitates a lot to even consider returning, that is saying something. If I did not have to gain experience for my chosen field and need a lot of money, I would be there every year.

I am not somebody who is trying to work in the field of animal sciences and veterinary. I am actually working towards an academic life in classical studies. I stumbled across Khulula through a talk in school now almost six years ago and frankly it was the best decision I ever made to go.

The people were lovely, sweet and friendly every single trip. I never had any problems with anybody. You were made to feel like you were part of something bigger, almost a family and for somebody who has suffered from shyness and being inverted, Khulula was the first place that I ever felt good about myself. That is in main due to the ethos that Petronel the owner and her staff have continuously spread throughout the stay. No matter how much experience you have already, as long you as try, as long as you work heard, there is always a place for you in Care for Wild/ Khulula.

Sure the hours are long and the work is hard but the reward is so worth it. Being able to see the animals you care for thrive and grow made me feel warm and fuzzy inside whilst also instilling a fire that I never knew I could feel before. It thought me focus, teamwork, social studies and general life lessons.

It was hard, the hours long, and the work exhausting but it was worth every second it to be able to learn and grow from my times there. I came back three years in a row, booking the next trip shortly after returning because I would miss it so much. You work in close proximity to these animals, you get bitten, scratched etc. but you also create this unique, memorable moments and bonds that defy expectation. You make friends around the work and you learn about yourself, what you thought your limitations are and how far you can actually push beyond those to see what they actually are.

Khulula changes you for the better as long as you are willing to work hard and work with people. Sometimes that means staying up most of the night or losing an animal that is very dear to you. Frankly, I left a huge portion of me in South Africa and am counting down the weeks until 2015 when I return. I would heartily recommend this to anyone. Although not a holiday, it is a life experience that is both necessary and uplifting.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Khulula is now a part of me

I had the special opportunity to be at Khulula when it first began back in 2010 and i was there for 9 weeks.

Petronel has a vast experience in the field of animals and her nature to help spread that knowledge with volunteers is over flowing and abundant.

i left there in 2010 with a deep hole where animals that i helped raise were and the many friends in terms of staff there to the other volunteers.

2013 came round and i was fortunate to go back to the place i love, and saw the challenges through moving into a new location which is bigger, and allowing us more opportunities to care for the more animals and different species.

people who go there should realise it is not a holiday it is a hard graft but if animals is your passion and your willing to be there to give feeds to an animal every 3 hours (9pm, midnight, 3am) then this is the place for you.

they try and teach you there with lectures, bush walks, etc.

i personally got to see the animals i cared for as adults with their own families and realise that sadly the amount of hands on we had with them would make it very difficult to release.

It is one thing to study conservation in a classroom but a very different thing to experience it first hand in a different country and i am grateful for that chance and especially to Petronel for allowing us to work with her and the animals and the staff there and will always call it a 2nd home

Yes, I recommend this program
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Take this opportunity you won't regret it

No words can explain the amount of fun I had at khulula. Loving animals is one thing but working with them is another. Despite the early mornings, late nights, and funny smells :) (Yes you little monkey! ) it was worth every second. It is after all a centre where volunteers are expected to work hard, pull their weight and help as much as possible but those who come for the right reasons will expect this and thrive in this environment.
From meeting all sorts of different people and animals, to learning all sorts of weird and wonderful skills, (rhinos like their belly scratched!) I can say this has been the best experience ever. The support throughout the placement is second to none and I can say that all people I met during my placement wish they were back every second!!

How can this program be improved?
More awareness given to the volunteers on the process of releasing the animals, and why this is (sadly) often not possible.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Beautiful and Memorable Experience

I had a wonderful time volunteering here. I gained experience handling a multitude of species in an open and friendly environment. I met people from around the world, and made lasting friendships. The social scene was outstanding, the staff went out of their way to make the experience a ton of fun. They truly appreciate the volunteers and go out of their way to provide for you. I am a vegetarian and the owner went out of her way to provide me with great food for every meal.
Volunteers need to understand that they are entering a new country, a new culture. You need to be open to the experience and recognize that the program may not make a ton of money and sometimes as a volunteer you must struggle along with the staff to make ends meet for all of the animals. But this program is going out of it way to help these animals and is doing all that is can, and you as the volunteer are extremely important!
I would absolutely go back, and I would absolutely visit the friends that I made there in their own countries. The scenery there is unreal and the experience itself is not one you will ever forget!

How can this program be improved?
More formal training of the volunteers, as opposed to having volunteers train volunteers and possibly make mistakes in training them, resulting in them making their own mistakes.
Yes, I recommend this program
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I have to say it was a wonderfull experience being at Khulula Wild Care. I only stayed for two weeks and wished I could stay more.
We all helped with the animals, feeding them, playing with them, cleaning their enclosures and make them more comfortable, and we helped building the new and bigger enclosures.
The staff was great, had an awesome time with them, you could talk to them if you had a problem as well as you could treat them as an equal.
Being able to spent time with those amazing animals, help them be ready to be released was amazing.
I have to say I wouldn't change a thing about it.
It's a lot of hard work and dedication, but it's definitely worth it.
They also a¡make trips to Kruger or to Chimp Eden so you can tour a bit and not stay all the time at the center.
Food is really good, and they don't have a problem making a special meal for you.

How can this program be improved?
I actually wouldn't change a thing about it.
Yes, I recommend this program
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what an incredible place

Khulula care for wild is the most beautiful place, located within a valley surrounded with hills; you honestly feel like you're in paradise! And the fact that you are also surrounded by the stunning animals of Africa!
I visited khulula in the summer of 2013 for 4 weeks, I may only be 18 but I think that it was the best experience I have ever had. I would suggest it to anyone! I mean come on!! I worked with rhinos, lions, serval kittens/cat, caracals, birds, monkeys, a snake, Bush babies, antelope and many more! I also cannot express how lovely the people who are associated with the reserve are, all the staff and visitors were so lovely and helpful.
The New wooden cabins are placed wonderfully enabling you to wake up looking at the beautiful scenery. You have to have cold showers unless you light the donkey to heat the water but to be honest it makes what you're doing feel more real! You're out in the middle of Africa, it's hot anyway, cold showers were rather refreshing!:)
You get to visit places such as chimp Eden and Kruger national park, you also go out on game drives and go on camp outs under the south African stars.
The place itself is incredible. Go there and put your all into the experience you have been handed. Khulula was my dream come true.

How can this program be improved?
I cannot think of anything that could be changed..
Yes, I recommend this program
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An AMAZING Experience

My volunteer experience at Khulula was unbelievable. I got so much hands on experience with animals like lions, monkeys, and rhinos. Because the animals are young, you have the are given the opportunity to feed them, take them out of their cages and play with them, go on animal walks with them and more (depending on what animals are there when you go).

At times, it isn't the most glamorous job; you are constantly cutting up raw meat, cleaning the cages, and your pretty much always covered in urine but trust me its worth it.

The highlight of my trip was going on lion walks. You let the lions out of their cage, and walk down the paths with them and you can just observe them running around, playing, and just enjoying themselves. You become so attached to these animals, the hardest part is saying goodbye.

How can this program be improved?
The problem with this program is you need a lot of volunteers. There is a lot of work that needs to be done so if there are a lack of volunteers then those who are there have much more work to do each day. With more volunteers, you have more time to have free time with the animals.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Not a rehabilitation centre!

myself and three other volunteers were frequently ostracized from the group, the enclosures were small for the amount of animals housed within, one of the staff kicked a mongoose because it begged for food as it had not been fed all day. The animals that were appropriate for re release is still kept by the owner as she wanted to keep them. Would not recommend to future volunteers. No in country support. No communication. Overall we are disappointed and felt it was a complete waste of money.

Response from African Conservation Experience

I am very sorry that you feel that you did not have a good experience at Khulula. I understand that you might have differing views on what would constitute suitable enclosure sizes, but Khulula Care for Wild is regularly inspected by the Department of Nature Conservation in South Africa, to ensure that the facilities are adequate, and has been found to be completely satisfactory on all inspections.

There are some animals at Khulula that are fit for release. However, they are not being kept at the centre because the owner "wants to keep them" but because either no suitable reserve for release has been sourced, or because the necessary permits have not been issued - which is not in the hands of the centre. Releasing wildlife is not as straight forward a process as one might imagine but requires a lengthy process and careful vetting.

With regards to the supposed lack of in country support and communication, we pride ourselves on an outstanding support structure: Every single volunteer is met by our dedicated, full time ground manager, on arrival in South Africa, and is also provided with his mobile phone number in their departure pack, so that you can call him any time during your placement if you are not happy with something or need assistance. In fact, we are fairly certain that you did have communications with Martin, our ground manager, and that he personally facilitated for you to move to another project for the second half of your placement, so that you could have a good, varied experience?

Ellen, ACE Marketing Manager

No, I don't recommend this program


About African Conservation Experience

African Conservation Experience has been organizing experiential volunteer opportunities in Africa for fifteen years. With projects in South Africa and Zimbabwe ACE is one of the most experienced wildlife volunteer organizations in Africa. Volunteer...