South Africa’s animal sanctuaries take in large numbers of injured or vulnerable animals in order to nurse them back to health and, if possible, release them back into their natural habitat. These sanctuaries provide a vital service and are interesting and educational places to visit.

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Animal sanctuaries are amongst the most popular destinations for international eco-volunteers.

Animal sanctuaries in South Africa play a crucial role in the treatment and rehabilitation of injured or orphaned mammals, reptiles and birds.

Some breeding centres have had remarkable results in the last few decades, contributing directly to the survival of flagship species like cheetah and the African wild dog.

The fantastic work of South African animal sanctuaries can be admired during a day visit and many of them provide exciting opportunities for volunteers to contribute their time and skills towards the conservation of African wildlife.

Thanks to the ever-increasing attention for animal welfare, members of the public often bring injured or abandoned wildlife to one of South Africa's wildlife sanctuaries. Most of them work according to the philosophy that once the animals are healthy again, they should be re-introduced into their natural environments, whenever this is possible.

The creatures that can't be returned to the wild because of their injuries or ‘tameness' will be cared for at the centres and are used to educate the many people who visit them each year, both from across South Africa and abroad.

The variety of sanctuaries is astonishing and range from bird sanctuaries that provide wintering grounds for vulnerable waterfowl to elephant projects that give people the chance to get to know these gentle giants up close and personal.

The famous De Wildt Cheetah Sanctuary (now renamed the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre) has played a pivotal role in saving the world's fastest land mammal from the brink of local extinction and the Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education (C.A.R.E.) cares for Chacma baboons.

Animal sanctuaries in South Africa provide perfect opportunities for visitors to spend a few weeks helping to nurse needy animals back to health. You are sure to find a project that you would like to visit or perhaps volunteer at.