Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC)

Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC)

If you’ve always had a passion for the fastest cat in the world, and you want to get close to them then the Hoedspruit cheetah project is the one for you! Get involved in various aspects of animal rehabilitation at both the Endangered Species Sanctuary and the Big Five Game Reserve.
The Hoedspruit cheetah project at the Endangered Species Centre deals with sick, orphaned and breeding cheetah as well as the very endangered king cheetah. Volunteers will have the chance to get involved with the animals rehabilitation, which also entails feeding the animals at least twice a week.

“The best experience I have ever had! The staff are fantastic, they make you feel so welcome, look after you and are lots of fun. The animals are fantastic too, got to a lot of different wildlife that I have never even heard of before. The excursions that they plan are great too and I am hoping to go back next year!! “

- Leanne Tunaley

You will be working with the wildlife department, and accommodated at the centre. This is a very hands on programme which is offered for 3 weeks, on a monthly basis.

The centre has established itself as one of the leading breeding and private research facilities for animal rehabilitation and endangered species in the country, with particular emphasis on the breeding and maintenance of cheetah in captivity.

The excellent condition of these animals, and of the place in which they live, reflects the attention to detail which is the hallmark of this facility.

In the Limpopo Province the reserve covers an area of approximately 13000 hectares and comprises spectacular diversity in mammal and bird species and topography. Characterised by rolling savannah grasslands and riverine forests, the reserve supports no less than 42 mammal species and approximately 350 bird species. Amongst the mammal species is the Big 5 – Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo and Rhino.

Evenings and Sundays are “off” days for those on conservation volunteering projects. There are adventurous activities available in the area. Should volunteers decide to participate in activities such as hot air ballooning, horse rides, paint-ball games, and river rafting in the Blyde River Canyon, they can be arranged with the project leader at participants own expense.


Limpopo Province in South AfricaThe Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre is situated in the heart of the Limpopo Province in South Africa, and the centre itself is surrounded by one of South Africa’s premier Big Five Game Reserves, which makes the Hoedspruit cheetah project one of our most wide-ranging conservation volunteering experiences. The closest town is Hoedspruit, which is approximately 25km from the reserve. Regular town trips can be organized for supplies, banking or internet facilities. Telephone facilities (at participants’ own expense) and laundry facilities are available in the camp.

Volunteers are accommodated in thatched huts (each can sleep 2 people) in Nungu Camp – situated within the boundaries of Kapama Private Game Reserve (Big 5). Separate facilities are available for male and female participants. Three meals per day are prepared in the camp which prove to be a valuable team building experience. There is a kitchen with fridges in the camp and barbeque facilities.

During your conservation volunteering placement you may have the opportunity to experience:

  • Monitoring programs (general antelope and the Big 5)
  • Feeding of animals in the Hoedspruit Research and Breeding centre for Endangered Species
  • Environmental education on conservation and animal rehabilitation
  • Lectures on various topics of reserve management
  • Camping in the reserve to get the African feeling (Sleep out under the stars; it is a bit risky to do so in the big 5 area so sometimes we will sleep under the stars in camp)
  • Star-gazing
  • Immobilizing of wild animals
  • Target shooting in order to expose volunteers to anti-poaching (done with an air-rifle and not with live ammunition)
  • Capturing of wild animals when required by the reserve or the sanctuary
  • Assisting the vet with veterinary procedures
  • Assisting with hand-raised animals – a very hands on experience.
  • Game drives through the reserve
  • Elephant-back safari
  • Day trip to Kruger National Park – animal identification and conservation
  • Trip to the Reptile Park for a full orientation on reptiles; venoms etc.

No. of Weeks Price
3 Weeks – 2015 £1,599


Compare all project prices HERE

Need a quote on your airfare to Hoedspruit? Please ask a member of the team for our latest prices.

- Bridget Pavitt

“Worldwide Experience has excellent knowledge of the placements available and able to advise individuals. The experience at Hoedspruit exceeded expectation and the whole organisation was first class. I definitely recommend them to friends/family looking for gap years or experiences beyond holidays.”

- Lauren Scarfe

“I’ve had the best 3 weeks of my life at Hoedspruit Cheetah Project! We covered such a wide range of activities and went on so many trips outside the centre that I really feel like I got the full African experience while there. We did everything including game drives (day and night!), an elephant back safari, river rafting, vet visits and an amazing trip to Kruger. Definitely the experience of a lifetime.”

- Harry James

“The trip was everything I expected and more. I met some amazing people and animals. I got to do things I never dreamed I would get to e.g. white water rafting to stroking a baby black rhino. I definitely would recommend this programme to anyone.”

- Georgina Bedford, Volunteer

“Hello, my name is Georgina Bedford and I have just gotten back from a 3 week placement in Hoedspruit, which I organised through worldwide experience. I thought I would give you some feedback on my experience from the 3 weeks! I had the time of my life in Hoedspruit, I have so many amazing memories from my time in South Africa. The cheetah project is an excellent program, The people there were incredibly friendly and welcoming; our student coordinator, Elouise in particular was fantastic! The motto at Hoedspruit is work hard, play hard and this fits perfectly. I was in a group with 5 other girls from various countries and I feel I have made friends for life! We worked so well and hard as a group that work felt like fun! The accommodation at the cheetah project was amazing! our camp, Nungu camp is so comfortable and well equipped. You really get a feel for the bush at the camp whilst also feeling safe and at home. I felt I learnt a lot form this 3 week placement not only about animals from South Africa, but about the country itself, it was a very educational program and had such great balance with the planning of our placement there. Not once did I feel homesick and as I was the youngest in the group this came as quite the shock. I could have stayed for a lot longer! This is my only flaw in the program………make it longer!! Thank you sooooo much for giving me this opportunity!!”

Amanda Murray – HESC 2011

“The experience was amazing and the staff were helpful. I cant wait to go back again!”

- Elizabeth Stretch

It was a great, once in a lifetime experience. I learnt so much and it has inspired me to travel more.

- Katie Meacher

I loved my three weeks at Hoedspruit! Lovely people, lovely staff and a huge gain in knowledge.

I saw the Big 5 twice as well as lots of other animals and will never forget seeing these amazing animals at large in the wild!

WWE were very helpful and email correspondence was particularly quick and informative.

- Nina Smith

Working at Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre was an amazing experience that I will treasure forever! The people and the animals were totally incredible.

- Leanne Tunaley

The best experience I have ever had :-) ! The staff are fantastic, they make you feel so welcome, look after you and are lots of fun. The animals are fantastic too, got to a lot of different wildlife that I have never even heard of before. The excursions that they plan are great too and I am hoping to go back next year!!

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