Africa Giving Back

Volunteering with Lions in Africa!

So last week I was invited down to South Africa by Volunteer Southern Africa to volunteer on a few of their projects.VSA-Logo

Obviously I said yes as for my first trip to Africa, a volunteer project working with some of Africa’s most incredible big cats, was a no brainer.

Living with Big Cats

So the first project with Volunteer Southern Africa was the Living with Big Cats project, which takes place on a farm about an hour outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. Here we spent a week interacting with the various lions, servals, cheetahs, plus observing the various types of free roaming wildlife that make their way through the farm.

This is a pack of wild giraffes that wandered through our camp the other day. No biggie. #thisisafrica

A photo posted by Nadine Sykora (@heynadine) on

All the while still putting in some elbow grease (aka hard work).

 Now the farm we stayed at is considered a wild life sanctuary where all the animals that call it home were either: rescued from poor homes (for example the three, 6 month old lion cubs) that are injured, or are ex/current show animals used for commercials, TV shows, movies, and just need a place to stay. It’s our job as volunteers to clean up after them, take care of them, feed and give them exercise and basically the best life we can possibly provide them with in captivity. Because unfortunately, they cannot be released back into the wild.

Now one of the benefits of doing all this hard work is as you guess it, interaction! Some of the animal (not most) allow us to be near and even touch them. Now I’m going to make this very clear: this is not some glorified petting zoo, and the interaction with humans is just as important and enriching to the animals as it is for us. Nor is it a lion cub breeding facility.

This is not to say the program is perfect, as no situation where animals are in captivity is perfect, but they are doing the best they can and with volunteers help and knowledge they can hopefully make a real difference in the animals lives. At the Living with Big Cats program they do care about the animals, and in the end that’s what matters.  


Anyways, this just gives you little snippets of this Volunteer Southern Africa program as this is video part 1/3 . So enjoy and see you again soon!


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1 Comment

  • Reply
    September 2, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    It is my absolute dream to be able to work with lions. I love the idea of volunteering and being able to make a difference as well as being able to experience being around such beautiful animals. X

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