Rhino & Lion Rescue & Relocation

South Africa, Botswana

Rhino & Lion Relocation

This unique and rewarding experience is one not to miss! 

As part of rhino and lion conservation programmes, this project moves a number of rhino to an interim reserve and saves the lives of rescued lions from the canned hunting industry. Goal for these lions is to move them to new large, semi-wild habitats to live out their days as they deserve. 

2-12 Weeks
From US$1850
Join this Volunteer Assistance team and be part of the bigger picture for these iconic African creatures.

Currently there thousands of lions living in canned-hunting facilities throughout South Africa, which are predominantly stocked by the ‘cub-petting’ trade. A majority of these facilities are over-stocked, with lions living in shocking conditions, waiting to be killed by trophy hunters.

Rescue of lions from the canned hunting industry

In 2018 this project rescued 44 Lions from a Canned Hunting/Breeding facility where they were kept in horrendously, cramped conditions and severely malnourished. Over the last few 6 months, the project has worked tirelessly to give them the life they deserve, roaming in safe, semi-wild environments where they can live out their days. Unfortunately, due to their captive breeding these lions will never be able to be released in to the wild.

The relocation

With some of the large semi-wild enclosures now ready we will be moving a number of lions, by road, 60km to the reserve where they will remain. Prior to the move, behavioural observations will be made to determine strong relationships between individuals within the large groups. These lions will be moved together. The selected lions will be sedated (by dart) and checked over by our wildlife vet. We will also treat them for ticks and worms as well as insert a micro-chip before loading them into transport crates.

Rescue of rhinos

Rhinos are under major threat from poaching and their numbers are declining at an alarming rate. The methods used by the poachers has become more violent and destructive than ever before and it is vital we look for alternative areas to keep them safe.

The ultimate goal is to move the Rhinos to a Wildlife Sanctuary in Botswana where they will be safe and free, in a country that is considered one of the safest in the world for free roaming rhinos. However, in the interim period we need to move them away from their current location to a different, safer reserve and prepare them for their final journey.

The relocation

The rhinos currently live on game reserve 400km away and using a helicopter the veterinarian will dart (sedate) them. Once a rhino is down, the vet will do an overall check-up for any problems and issues. Females will also be checked for pregnancy with ultrasound. While they are still under sedation we will fit a tracking collar to the foot, surgically remove the horn and insert microchips. Once all vet work and operations have been completed, the rhinos will be loaded into transport crates and transported by road to their new home. After some days of recovery in a boma, the rhino will then be released onto the main reserve to be free roaming with our intensive monitoring and anti-poaching unit.


The current focus of the project is to secure the lives of the rescued lions. Feeding alone requires over 400kg of food a day for the 70 lions, so you can imagine the amount of preparation and feeding schedules that this involves. Your time at the sanctuary is invaluable to the project and they desperately need your assistance with this mammoth task!

The next phase is the building and erection of the semi-free enclosures, which has already begun. These enclosures will be more than 10 times the size of what the lions have lived in previously, with enrichment and lots of natural features.

You’ll be involved with all of the rescued lions, assisting with feeding, cleaning enclosures and helping with the building of the new enclosures and camps. You’ll be given full training in how to practically assist and will work closely with the staff to really make a difference.


Your work may include some or all of the following:

  • Preparation of food and feeding lions and other animals (note that this will include handling raw meat)
  • Ensuring all animals have fresh water
  • Cleaning out camps and enclosures
  • Security checks of fences and enclosures
  • Sweeping the roads for foot prints. (The sand pathways around the reserve need to be swept in order for the anti-poaching patrols to notice any new footprints).
  • Assisting in the building of the enclosures and enrichment features

Lion Relocation

  • Introduction and orientation of the lion sanctuary in Limpopo. Assisting with final plans for the move and formulating groups for the behavioural observations.
  • Final checks will be made to the new enclosures, electric fencing, water holes, supply of food.
  • Behavioural observations and general duties around the sanctuary will take place, this will include feeding, cleaning out enclosures and general maintenance.
  • Early morning the Vet will sedate the selected lions and carry out the necessary checks. We will then insert the microchips and carry out deworming and tick treatments. When all work is complete we will load the lions into the transport crates and the convoy will begin back to the reserve.
  • We will immediately offload the lions into their new enclosures and the vet will carry out final checks.
  • Monitoring and general duties of all lion camps.

Rhino Relocation:

  • Introduction and lectures regarding project, Vet Lecture, Safety Procedures and Protocols for the whole project.
  • The whole group will travel to the new reserve and assist with final planning and work to ensure all is ready. This will include checking the entire reserve fence, the recovery camp, water points and all equipment. Then we will travel to game reserve where the rhino currently roam. This journey will take around 4 hours by road with an overnight stay.
  • A helicopter will take off at first light to locate the rhinos and the vet will dart the rhino from the air. Once the rhino is down under sedation everyone will have a different task (i.e. fitting radio collar, ear notching, surgical dehorn, inserting microchips under skin and in horn, pregnancy checks with ultra sound). When all work is complete we will load the rhino into the transport trailer and the convoy will begin back to the reserve.
  • We will immediately offload the rhino into the recovery camp as we arrive. The vet will do final check and we will check the radio tracking equipment. We will then continue to monitor the rhino in the camp to ensure safety over the next few days.
  • Final check of whole perimeter of new reserve, waterhole checks, radio collar check. We will then release the rhino onto the main reserve.

Please note that this schedule is subject to change should the project require.

We need your help…

This unique and exciting experience is one not to miss! The money raised through this project will ensure the safety of our Rhinos, paying for the much needed intensive monitoring and anti-poaching units, as well as allowing our rescued Lions to live out their days in the beautiful African bushveld which they so deserve.

Weekend Trip

There is an opportunity to relax for 2 nights at our Private Game Reserve in Botswana located on the Limpopo River. This will include your accommodation and food for the weekend. 

You can join a game drive, both day and night, experiencing a variety of African wildlife such as Elephants, Lion, Wild Dogs, Leopard, Hippo, Giraffe and an array of Antelope and Bird species.

Limpopo is a South African province bordering Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It’s known for bushveld and wildlife reserves, including part of Kruger National Park. West of the Kruger are the craggy Blouberg mountains and Makgabeng Plateau with ancient rock art. Near the provincial capital Polokwane, the Arend Dieperink Museum and fossil-rich caves of Makapansgat explore history dating back to early hominids.

Duration & Costs

Duration: 2 Weeks

Cost: ZAR25,500 (Approx. US$1850)

US$445 for each additional week.

What is included?

  • Accommodation
  • Food (3 meals a day)
  • Meeting you at Polokwane airport
  • Transfer to the project site
  • Local project rekated transport
  • Return transfer to the airport at the end of your stay
  • Local team support and backup

Accommodation: On a sharing basis at various locations, mainly Bush Camps, Alldays.

Requirements: No qualifications necessary. Must be open-minded and dedicated to the cause.

What to bring?

  • Power bank for phone, computer or ipad.
  • Clothes that can get dirty
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sun block and a water bottle
  • Sun hat
  • Flashlight

Rhino & Lion Relocation

As part of our Rhino Expansion & Risk Reduction Project and Lion Watch Project we plan to move a number of Rhino to an interim reserve, as well as relocate a number of our rescued Lions to their new semi-wild habitats.

This unique and exciting experience is one not to miss!


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