South Africa - Ukutula Lion Research Project

Protect White Lions for Future Generations

Be a part of a lasting solution and help university researchers save the endangered white lion!

Work with South Africa's largest veterinary institute

The experience volunteers get is totally unique and something they would never be able to do as a normal tourist.

Do the dream African Safari on your bucket list

See the Big 5 of African wildlife on an amazing 4 day safari experience in Kruger National Park in addition to your volunteer placement!

Volunteer Placements since 2002

Our trusted partner in South Africa has focused on volunteer projects since 2002, and we're proud to offer the opportunity for a more exciting and fulfilling travel adventure to Canadians.

South Africa - Ukutula Lion Research Project

  • Do you love lions? Do you have a passion for protecting lions for future generations? This is the project for you.

    Experience the true wildlife of the African plains by helping to save the endangered lion. Volunteer at an amazing unspoilt bushveld that boasts a variety of species, including giraffes, zebras, and antelope. Known as "the place of quiet," a lion's roar can be heard from miles around.

    The Ukutula Lion Research Project takes place on a fully functional game farm that specializes in lion breeding. This project is focused on researching the genetics of the White Lion, and is administered through Onderstepoort, South Africa's largest veterinary institute. Aside from being a game farm, it is also an environmental education centre focusing on the conservation and preservation of wildlife. The 260 hectares of bushveld also have a variety of antelope species, giraffe, zebra as well as over 130 different bird species. The farm is family owned and operated.

    The Lion Research Project is very hands-on, and volunteers will be expected to help with the day-to-day care of the lions and cubs.

    Volunteer tasks include:

    • Caring for lion cubs
    • Making bottles and feeding cubs every 3 hours
    • Cutting up meat and feeding adult lions
    • Assisting with educational activities
    • Monitoring of sick or injured lions and cubs
    • Help with the maintenance of lion enclosures and upkeep of facilities
    • Participate in the daily running of the farm and kitchen duties
  • Bonus: Kruger National Park Safari

    You'll also go on an amazing Kruger National Park safari! On Day 1 you'll travel with the other project volunteers on an air-conditioned bus to your accommodation for an evening dinner. Bright and early on day 2, you'll see breathtaking landscapes, including Blyde River Canyon, Bourke's Luck Potholes, Berlin Falls, and God's Window before continuing on day 3 to Kruger National Park to see the Big 5 of African wildlife! For those brave souls there is also the chance to go on the Graskop Big Swing (or you can just take in the view while on solid ground). Day 4 will take you back to Johannesburg or the continuation of your volunteer placement, so all transportation is taken care of for you.

    Note on program lengths: Want to volunteer more of your time? Our program includes a 2 week volunteer placement, but we can also arrange a 4 week placement if you want to stay in beautiful South Africa even longer. Just contact us for more details and availability.

  • Program Gallery

  • Local Support in South Africa

    Get support from the local staff during your placement! They have been hosting foreign participants for years and will make your volunteer placement as comfortable as they can.

    • Airport pick-up services to the orientation centre in Johannesburg
    • A comprehensive 3-day orientation to prepare you for your placement
    • Local transportation to your project placement, as well as during the Kruger National Park safari
    • ALL MEALS are included as part of the project placement
    • Our partner will provide ongoing guidance and support services throughout the full duration of your stay

  • Accommodation

    There are new 2 sleeper en-suite chalets on the farm that are fully furnished and equipped. There is full laundry service and a snack shop. All meals are prepared on site.

    Your placement is located in Ukutula (2 weeks) and the orientation will take place in Johannesburg (3 days).

  • SWAP's Support and Resources

    • Support from our local staff to arrange and confirm your volunteer placement
    • SWAP's personalized assistance in reviewing and editing the necessary applications forms
    • On-location staff and managers to help ensure the program runs smoothly
  • Booking the Ukutula Lion Research Project

    Being part of the SWAP South Africa Ukutula Lion Research Project is easy! Download the Application Package, read through the information carefully and complete the forms.

    When you have your application ready, register online HERE.

    Your contribution, like your memories, will last long after you return home and will help protect lions for generations to come.

Spend 2 weeks with South Africa's largest veterinary institute helping save and protect endangered white lions

Program Info

  • Eligibility

    Canadians ages 18+

  • Registration Timeline

    Minimum 8 weeks prior to your preferred start date. The program dates can fill up fast, so register as early as possible - dates subject to availability (See program forms for the specific 2017 program dates)

  • Program Length

    Two weeks + 3-day orientation (and a 4-day Kruger National Park safari)

  • Length of Visa

    3 month tourist visa (you can stay in South Africa before/after your program ends)

  • Start Dates

    Orientations start on the first and third Tuesdays of every month, available year-round! Here are the dates for 2017:

    • January 3, 17
    • February 7, 21
    • March 7, 21
    • April 4, 18
    • May 2, 16
    • June 6, 20
    • July 4, 18
    • Aug 1, 15
    • Sep 5, 19
    • Oct 3, 17
    • Nov 7, 21
    • Dec 5, 19
  • Meals


  • For Only

    SWAP's Ukutula Lion Research Project is only $2600 CAD! That includes a 3-month volunteer visa, 2-week volunteer placement on the Ukutula Lion Research Project, a comprehensive 3-day orientation in Johannesburg, an exciting 4-day safari in Kruger National park, plus full accommodation and meals for the length of your placement

    Take the 1st step ››

Program Reviews

  • "My favourite part of my trip was meeting other people from all over the world and working with the animals at Ukutula first hand. I was worried about not making any friends because I was going alone, but as soon as I arrived in South Africa, I met so many incredible people. I grew a lot closer than I expected with some girls and still talk to them daily even though I'm home now. This trip has definitely left me with friends who will last a lifetime!"

    Jenna D. in Ukutula, South Africa, 2016