Our International Volunteer Programme
The volunteer programme offered by YFU South Africa is an opportunity for young people from any of our partner countries, aged 18 or older, to participate in a wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and conservation programme within the guidelines of YFU.
Our volunteer programme is open to high school graduates, university students and young professionals who want to expand their horizon, discover a new country and culture, and gain practical experience in the fields of nature conservation, animal rescue and wildlife rehabilitation.
The programme is offered for a duration of 3-6 months, but shorter or longer programmes can be arranged on an individual basis. The programme includes accommodation, insurance, international travel, airport transfers, several orientations, as well as YFU support throughout the programme.
Volunteers are placed at a seabird and penguin rescue and rehabilitation centre located on the outskirts of Cape Town, where they assist with a variety of tasks. In addition, volunteers have the opportunity to spend part of their stay at the partner centre in Port Elizabeth which is located on the beautiful Garden Route. Of course they also have the opportunity to explore South Africa’s diverse culture and beautiful nature, and are invited to participate in local YFU activities and gatherings.
Learn more about the Seabird and Penguin Programme
Life as a YFU Wildlife Volunteer
We offer three different programmes which are open to volunteers from different professional backgrounds and with various levels of experience. Whether you have previous experience in wildlife rescue and conservation or have never no experience but a love for animals and nature, we have the right programme for you! All volunteers receive an detailed induction and are supervised and supported by experienced staff throughout their stay.
6-Week Volunteer Programme
This short-term volunteer programme is specifically designed for volunteers with no prior experience in the field. As an international volunteer you will become an extension of our team of Bird rehabilitators, helping with most handling and feeding tasks. The programme includes a volunteer T-shirt and a seabird release trip (weather and bird permitting) and is offered in both the Cape Town and the Port Elizabeth centre.
Seabird Rehabilitation Programme (3 or 6 months)
The Seabird rehabilitation programme has been developed to equip you with basic skills for seabird rehabilitation, or even for a career in bird rehabilitation or conservation. Tasks include catching, handling and feeding birds, assisting with small medical procedures and care, assist with ringing and taking blood samples (6-month volunteers only) and the release of rehabilitated birds.
Penguin Nursery Programme (3 or 6 months)
The Penguin Nursery programme is focused on caring for bigger chicks, usually weighing 1.5kg or more. These chicks remain in the nursery until they are ready to move to the swimming rehabilitation pens. Tasks include handling and feeding penguin chicks, assisting with medication and record keeping, cleaning and temperature control of the pens, observing chick behaviour and assisting with the basic training of other volunteers and interns.
Chick Rearing Programme (6 months)
The Seabird Chick Rearing programme has been developed to equip you with chick husbandry skills and egg management skills, focusing on captive breeding and seabird chick rearing. Tasks include feeding, weighing and cleaning the chicks, assisting with medication and record keeping, monitoring eggs and handling/feeding penguins of all ages.
Discover South Africa as a Volunteer!
Being a volunteer in South Africa is not just about work – it also gives you the opportunity to discover the country’s diverse culture and nature and to experience the hospitality and warm-heartedness of its people!
In addition to participating in a variety of events and activities organized by the project and the volunteers themselves, volunteers are encouraged to use their free time, weekends and their days off work to explore Cape Town and its surroundings.
The project is located in a quiet suburb next to a lake and close to the beach, but the city, Table Mountain, the Cape Peninsula, and many local wine farms and other attractions are just a short drive away and can be explored on day or weekend trips. Many volunteers decide to hire and share a car, but safe and reliable public transport options (such as Uber or the MyCiti bus) are available as well.
During their holidays or after completion of their programme, volunteers can also explore other parts of South Africa, such as the Garden Route, the Wild Coast, the Drakensberg Mountains, or Kruger National Park.