Apply for a once in a lifetime volunteering experience at Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary

You will meet and help us take care of

  • The founding Bahati Pride, Chanel, Raka, Tau & Serabie
  • Siberian tigers, Katya & Georgia
  • The world-famous lions Masrya & Nero
  • 27 rescued lions from Peru & Columbia
  • Tristan & Nala…whom we hope to return to the semi-wild
  • Bruno & Omar (originally from Slovakia)
  • Ex-circus performing lionesses, Mahli, Nora & Ziera
  • Caracals Luna, Shiloh & Gigi
  • Rescued meerkats & bunnies
  • Get a taste of general farm life in Africa

What you will be doing

Currently our volunteer programme runs for a minimum period of two weeks. The focus of the programme is on the big cats. Bahati is also a working farm with sheep and game. Volunteers will have the opportunity to work with our livestock as well as get a taste of general farm maintenance.

  • Feeding
  • Observing animal behaviour and health checks
  • Cleaning of enclosures
  • Cleaning of water throughs
  • Cleaning of fences
  • Checking electrical fence
  • Maintaining and cleaning of cold / freezer rooms and meat room
  • Enrichment
  • Preparing of meat
  • Assisting giving big cats medication when needed
  • Assisting with veterinary care when needed
  • Afternoon & evening checks
  • Maintaining enclosures
  • Upgrading of enclosures
  • Assisting with building and installing of permanent enrichment structures

Typical Day at Emoya

5:30 Training
06:30 Feed the tigers & lions
07:30 Breakfast
08:30 Clean the enclosures
11:00 Prepare meat
13:00 Lunch

14:00 Special projects
17:00 Photo opportunity
18:00 Sunset & Meditation
19:00 Dinner
20:00 Evening activities

The Programme

The cost of the program includes:

• Transfers from and to OR Tambo International
• Accommodation
• Breakfast, lunch and dinner
• Tea, coffee and water
• Seasonal fruit
• Daily servicing
• Laundry

The following is NOT included:

• Visa
• Vaccinations
• Travel expenses (international and local flights)
• Health, travel and cancellation insurance
• Personal expenses
• Alcoholic beverages
• Cigarettes
• Snacks

2019 Luxury Accommodation Rates

  • 2 weeks €1 705
  • 3 weeks €2 365
  • 4 weeks €2 915
  • 6 weeks €3 905

2019 Budget Accommodation Rates

  • 2 weeks €1000
  • 3 weeks €1250
  • 4 weeks €1500
  • 6 weeks €2000

Extras (per person) 2019
Return transfer: €300*
Half-day Spa: €150*
Day at hot springs: €50
Ziplining: €30
Foot massages: €15 (on site)

2020 Luxury Accommodation Rates

  • 2 weeks €1 876
  • 3 weeks €2 602
  • 4 weeks €3 207
  • 6 weeks €4 296

2020 Budget Accommodation Rates

  • 2 weeks €1100
  • 3 weeks €1375
  • 4 weeks €1650
  • 6 weeks €2200

Extras (per person) 2020
Half-day Spa: €175*
Day at hot springs: €75
Ziplining: €50
Foot massages: €20 (on site)

Start Dates
Pickups at OR Tambo are always on a Wednesday morning between 10am and 12pm (midday).
Drops are always on a Tuesday between 4pm and 6pm.
Contact Us for available Arrival Dates.

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What other volunteers are saying

I know I will come back as much as I can to this little place called Emoya in the middle of nowhere in South Africa… a peaceful place, away from the busy world most of us live our daily lives in! Where the most important thing is not “What are we going to watch on TV tonight?” or “What restaurant are we eating at today?” But just enjoying nature and helping animals who deserve to enjoy the remainder of their lives…


I think the true spirit behind Emoya is that you just want to experience what other emoyans are talking about! We all fight for the same cause; giving a little bit of TLC to these big cats…But for me it was the once in a live time experience! I learned so much; Like, be humble for our animals, especially when you are so close by them…Respect our nature…Also it putted me back into reality. I felt rich for having a great life and the love that they giving me.


Apply Now

Please complete the following form if you wish to apply. Reservations will ONLY be confirmed with a completed application form and a non-refundable 10% deposit.

About Emoya

The Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary is located on the Bahati Estate, a 5 000-hectare wilderness estate in Vaalwater, Limpopo Province, South Africa – about 300 kilometres from OR Tambo International Airport. As a participant in the Volunteer Programme, you will help us take care of the big cats and smaller rescued animals and have the opportunity to participate in the day-to-day life of Bahati, a working farm in Vaalwater.

Vaalwater lies on the southern-edge of the Waterberg biosphere reserve, which has a stunning mix of habitats including mountainous regions, rolling grasslands, forests, cliff caves and river gorges. The region is home to a variety of indigenous mammals such as lion, buffalo, giraffe and white rhino and the climate is ideal for the sanctuary.

The Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary is currently home to 42 lions and two sub-adult Siberian tigers. Two of the lions are the world-famous Masrya and Nero, who were brought to the sanctuary from the state-of-the-art Stichting Leeuw sanctuary in the Netherlands. Another lion, Serabie, has also received world acclaim through the award-winning documentary “Saving Serabie”.

The 33 lions rescued from various circuses in South America by Animal Defenders International (ADI) arrived on 1 May 2016. Three more lions – Tristan, Nala and Asali – have just joined us from Stichting Leeuw, bringing the total number of lions at Emoya to 42.

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