Since 2001 the Western Cape Cheetah Conservation (WCCC) has been rescuing and rehabilitating cheetahs at a special facility at Inverdoorn Game Reserve and Iziba Safari Lodge.
The WCCC is at the forefront of cheetah conservation in South Africa and is a globally recognised initiative. Through dedication, passion and the expertise of leading specialists in veterinary science, conservation dynamics and predator behavior studies, the WCCC has rescued 14 cheetahs and released two into the wild. The WCCC is a sanctuary for cheetahs as well as a centre for knowledge and research in cheetah conservation,
aiming to educate the public and promote awareness for the cheetah. Cheetah conservation is a highly specialised field, because these big cats present peculiar challenges. While human conflict and loss of habitat are some of the main causes of decline in wild cheetah populations throughout Africa, genetic defects are an added concern. Years of interbreeding have weakened the species, leaving them susceptible to genetic diseases, often related to the skin and bones. As a result, trained and knowledgeable caregivers ensure that the cheetahs receive the best care possible. The cheetahs benefit from a unique wildlife management programme
that ensures they receive adequate amounts of physical training and psychological stimulation every day by means of nursing, feeding, long walks, running exercises and interactions with visitors.
As part of our ongoing commitment to raising awareness we invite those with experience in animal handling or those completing studies in wildlife conservation or veterinary sciences, to apply for the volunteer program at the WCCC.
How to become a Volunteer
To join the WCCC’s volunteer program, you must be available for a period ranging from three to six months and have a solid grasp of the English language. The minimum age requirement for volunteers is 18; and as there is a limited number of places available, preference will be given to volunteers between the ages of 20 and 30 who possess experience in animal care.
Should you be accepted into the programme, there will be a two-week probation period, upon your arrival; thereafter you will undergo an evaluation by management. During this time you will be immersed in building a relationship with a cheetah in order to gain its trust. You are carefully monitored throughout to ensure your safety and that of the animal. You will be placed with an experienced handler who will offer guidance as you accompany the cheetahs during feeds, walks, exercise routines and guest interactions. Volunteer work includes cleaning the cheetah camps, cleaning the cheetah kitchen and meat work, amongst other tasks.
A typical work week will consist of six days, with one day off per week and three consecutive days leave every fifth week. The day begins at 08:00AM and finishes at 05:00PM, with one hour for lunch each day.
As cheetahs are very sensitive creatures this schedule will change to accommodate their needs and is dependent on factors such as weather conditions, the cheetahs’ moods, guest interactions and exercise booked for the cheetahs.
1. For your safety, that of the guests and the cheetahs it is important that a volunteer is always with a handler when in contact with the cheetahs.
2. Lunch breaks will not be at regular times but depends on work priority and guests’ requests.
3. Management reserves the right to organise when your off days will be as this is dependent on guests’ bookings.
4. No photographs or videos of the lodge or the cheetahs may be sold or published for a commercial purpose. Uploading to social networks may only be done with the permission of the lodge owner.
5. The volunteer programme is not a holiday. It entails hard work and commitment.
If you have been selected to volunteer at Inverdoorn, please be aware that other applications have been declined in favour of yours. You will soon embark on a life-changing, once-in-a-lifetime adventure – working side by side with the fastest living land animal on the planet. It is a privilege to work with these magnificent big cats and at Inverdoorn they are the heart and soul of all that we do. We expect you to bring enthusiasm, a desire to learn and a real love of nature to your work and hope you will take away many wonderful memories.