Are you enrolled in a course that requires you to complete an internship, externship or work placement? Then come and complete your placement at Cheetah Experience!
Cheetah Experience offers internships, externships, and work placements year round in a wide variety of courses and fields such as Veterinary Science, Veterinary Nursing, Wildlife Conservation, Animal Management, Tourism, and more.
Support, Mentorship, & Practical Experience
During your internship, you will be supported and mentored by our experienced and knowledgeable staff that have a background in your area of study, and will have the opportunity to work alongside staff on a daily basis, and get practical experience that you can apply to your coursework.
On a normal day, you’ll deal with a number of endangered and threatened species, including the cheetah, leopards, non-breeding male lions, wolves, a Siberian tiger, bat eared foxes, caracals and servals, and our experienced team of staff will be there to support you every step of the way.
As an intern, you’ll not only get practical experience and apply the theory you’ve learnt in your coursework, you’ll also contribute to conservation in South Africa, and make a positive impact every day in our animals lives.
You’ll have a once in a lifetime opportunity to work closely with many African species you only dreamed of working with, and will be surrounded by a group of likeminded individuals that share your love and passion for animals.
Since our Volunteer and Internship programme started in 2011, Cheetah Experience has seen over 1,000 hard-working, dedicated people from 33 countries come and be a special part of the Cheetah Experience Global Volunteer Family and contributing to conservation in South Africa.
Environment & surrounds
As we are located in Bela Bela in Limpopo, you will find yourself immersed in bush life! Our day-to-day work takes place in nature where antelopes, wild animals and beautiful birds roam free and wild. The peace and serenity will allow you take take a few minutes and just breath and take it in.
There are plenty of fun activities to reward yourself after a productive day, with local bars and restaurants only a 20 to 30-minute drive away.
For the adventurous volunteers, there are lots of fun activities nearby that you can enjoy, including horse riding, paint balling, and zip-lining!
The area is surrounded by game farms so there is plenty of opportunity to organise game drives and bush walks.
Cheetah Experience offers internships, externships and work placements year round in a wide variety of courses and fields, including but not limited to:
Pre-Vet & Biology
Environment & Sustainability
Veterinary Science and Veterinary Nursing Interns will have the chance to work with our staff in providing care for our animals. If you study something completely unrelated to the courses/fields mentioned above and just wish to spend time volunteering with us, we can arrange something to suit your needs.
If you study something closely related to the courses/fields mentioned above and want to find out if you're eligible to complete your internship with us, please email email@example.com
What you will do
In the day to day running of our project, there are a number of areas of work that interns can get involved with, depending on your course requirements and what you’d like to get out of your internship.
On a normal day, there’s plenty of hands-on activities you will be involved in, and you’ll work closely with our staff in completing a number of tasks including:
Animal care and rehabilitation
Cleaning enclosures and refilling water bowls
Preparing and feeding food to our animals – they are carnivores, so this involves handling raw meat!
Educating the public that visit our project on the importance of conservation, by assisting with educational tours and taking guided tours (once you are ready)
Working as a team to complete various group activities, including building structures for our animals, maintenance of enclosures and enrichment activities
Planning and helping with animal enrichment
However, depending on your ability level, there are plenty of ways to help during a typical day, including preparing enrichment for our animals and assisting visitors to our project.
In addition to the coursework you’ll be doing during your internship, we understand that many interns have personal goals, and skills or knowledge they’d like the attain during their time with us, and we strive to help you accomplish those goals. After all, it’s not every day you get to work with such amazing animals!
Depending on what you are studying, there are a number of projects interns will be involved with, a few of them are listed below:
Animal Management and Husbandry for over 50 animals (including approx. 10 different species). Based on a Game Reserve, where we can offer opportunities to shadow game rangers
We can offer vet and vet nursing students the opportunity to work alongside staff in taking care of the animal's daily needs.
Landscaping, Environment and Sustainability – we cook food for approx. 30 people each day from our volunteer house. We would like to start our own nursery so that we can grow a large proportion of this food ourselves. We are offering the opportunity initially to help us design and implement our self-sustaining garden and in the future to maintain and improve the gardening. We would also like to start a small scale nursery.
What are the working hours?
Our animals don’t work on a typical 9am-5pm day, so neither do we! To ensure our animals receive the best care, our days are often long, and will require interns to participate in lots of hands-on activities.
We usually start early in the mornings, between 7am – 8am (depending on the time of year), and finish in the late afternoon, between 5pm – 6pm (depending on the time of year). You will have plenty of time during the day to spend with our animals, and you may have the opportunity to babysit the younger animals when required.
After a busy day, you can spend your afternoons laying by the pool at the Volunteer House watching the sunset, hanging out with other volunteers in the lounge room, or relaxing in your room watching movies!
You will have time off during your internship to explore the local area, get involved in fun activities near our project including horse riding, quad biking and sky diving! And of course, you can spend time with the animals!!
Looking to meet people from all over the world?
Our Volunteer Village is still under development but once completed, there will be 14 apartments which will house 2-4 people. A communal lounge/kitchen area and fire pit will be available in the center. Each apartment has its own bathroom facilities.
For now, Volunteers will share accommodation in one of our 2- or 3-bedroom chalets. Chalets will be allocated on same gender sharing bases.
We have 18 chalets and those on the Working Holiday option, will be accommodated in a 1-, 2- or 3-bedroom chalet. Each chalet has a self-contained kitchenette, small lounge, bathroom, a small patio and barbeque facility. Although you will be staying on your own, you will still be able to socialize with the volunteers and make use of the entertainment area.
The entertainment area is located in between the chalets and volunteer village and include a swimming pool and large entertainment hall with a pool table, TV and DVD player.
Whichever option you choose, your clothes will be washed on most weekdays (Tues – Fri) by the caretakers. Towels and all linen are supplied and are washed on a weekly basis. Apartments/Chalets will be cleaned by our staff on a regular basis.
At Cheetah Experience we wish to support the education of students that want to get involved in the conservation of threatened and endangered species. That is why we offer our Internship & Work Placement Programme at a reduced rate.
We offer a 20% discount for all international interns and a 50% discount for South African students completing an internship with us.
The overall cost includes all accommodation, bedding, laundry, breakfast and a home-cooked lunch each day.
For pick up and drop off information and costs, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
You will receive training material and a Cheetah Experience t-shirt. Internet is also available at both the Volunteer House and the farm at a cost of R100 per week (South African Rand).
Cheetah Experience relies on students interested in the conservation to support our project in its continual development through your hard work, dedication and funding. All funds from our Internship and Work Placement Program are used to feed our animals, veterinary expenses, maintenance and improvements on our animal’s homes, and purchasing of equipment used for enrichment activities.
The cost to intern, dependant on the duration of you stay, is listed below. All pricing is in South African Rand.
2024 Internship and Work Placement Cost
Pricing for Students enrolled in higher education institutions outside of South Africa
Pricing for Students enrolled in higher education institutions in South Africa
A 50% deposit is required to confirm your booking once your application form has been accepted. The remaining 50% of your payment is due 1 month prior to your arrival. Banking details will be provided upon confirmation of your application.
Your 50% deposit will not be refunded should you cancel your participation in the project at any time. If you cancel your booking less than 30 days before your start date, you will not be eligible for a refund of any kind. We can put all money paid towards a different date if you wish to reschedule your internship experience. Fees are to cover administration work and the opportunity cost of being unable to fill your position at last minute. Once you arrive, if you decide to leave the project early for any reason, Cheetah Experience will be unable to refund you in any way.
Cheetah Experience wouldn’t be able to do the conservation work it does without the help of our hard-working, dedicated volunteers and interns. Everything you do during your internship or work placement has a positive impact on our animals lives, and our animals say thank you by the love and affection they give to you.
We understand that interns might have skills and expertise in a number of other areas related to their coursework that they are interested in personally. We like to utilise our intern’s natural skills and abilities, so any help in additional areas benefits our project greatly.
Being a non-profit organisation with no government funding, the tireless work our volunteers and interns do helps us keep our animals happy, healthy and enriched. The generosity of our Global Volunteer Family, current volunteers and interns, sponsors and visitors to our project allow Cheetah Experience to source the best possible food for our animals, purchase enrichment items for our animals, cover veterinary expenses and build and improve our animal’s enclosures to provide them with the best possible care.
It is of the utmost importance that our volunteers and interns share our common goal – we always put our animal’s needs first.
Cheetah Experience is located in central South Africa, on the outskirts of a town called Bela Bela. Our project is surrounded by mostly farmland and a game reserve. We are about 10-minutes drive from Bela Bela town centre, and are a 10-minute drive from local shopping centres and restaurants.
All international flights into South Africa arrive in Johannesburg or into Cape Town, from where you then transfer to Cheetah Experience.
We would recommend that you fly into OR Tambo in Johannesburg, then you will catch the Gautrain to Hatfield station in Pretoria, where a member of the Cheetah Experience Team will collect you.
March – May forms part of Autumn with average daily temperatures of between 24˚C and 30˚C. It can still rain and it gets warm enough during March and April to enjoy a swim. Do pack some warmer clothes to provide for colder morning and evening temperatures as well as for the odd rainy days.
June – August is our Winter and our average morning temperatures can be around 5˚C with the average midday temperature around 22˚C. It can still get warm during the day so also pack some clothes for warmer weather.
September - February forms part of our Spring and Summer. The average midday temperatures will be around 31˚C and higher. It forms part of our rain season so do pack something warmer for the colder evening temperatures during September and rainy days. Don't forget to pack your bathing costume!