Please review the following pages closely and abide by these rules during your stay with us. Most of these are common sense and will help you and all the other volunteers to create lifelong memories and to have an amazing and safe experience with us at TLF.

Please follow the rules of our sanctuary when it comes to animal welfare and your own safety.

Rules regarding animals

  • The Lions Foundation is NOT a zoo or a petting farm. Unfortunately, most of our animals have already had too much contact with humans, and although some may look like they want attention, we require volunteers not to touch them as we aim to introduce animals with other conspecifics. Animals appearing to give social interaction are NOT trying to be friendly. In most cases, this behaviour is a sign of significant stress and submission. Do not be drawn in by it. For example, a lion rubbing its head against the fence may not be a gesture of wanting its head scratched, it is to leave its scent on the fence to mark its territory. Though it may be a nice experience for you to touch an animal, there is a very real risk of disease transmission, both obvious (if you have a cold or cough) and not so obvious. We will ask volunteers who touch big cats without permission, to leave. We can see photos of you with big cats on social media, and we encourage other volunteers to report cases of touching.
  • As we work with potentially dangerous animals and the accommodation is built on a hill, we regret that we cannot approve applications from physically and/or mentally less-abled people.
  • TLF has a hands-off policy. This is so the environment of the animals is as natural as possible, so we can ease the integration with others of their own species, facilitate any future releases back to the wild, as well as for staff and volunteer safety.
  • At the sanctuary we do have hands-on contact with our donkeys, such as for feeding, monitoring and grooming. Most of our donkeys have had abusive pasts and can be dangerous. New volunteers will be given a safety briefing about working with our donkeys before starting.
  • You are only to touch or to have contact with animals when you are specifically instructed.
  • Volunteers may only approach the big cat enclosures together with a caretaker or Volunteer Coordinator. Big cats are extremely fast and dangerous animals, and most of them at our sanctuary have an a abusive past so they are not fond of people at all. ALWAYS leave one metre space between the fence and yourself, for your safety, the safety of others and the safety of the animals.
  • IF YOU NEED TO ENTER AN ENCLOSURE AT ANY TIME, ALWAYS ENSURE THAT THE ANIMAL IS SAFELY LOCKED IN THE SIDE ENCLOSURE BY A MEMBER OF STAFF BEFORE GOING IN. Only the caretakers will have keys to the enclosures. Please also always ensure for yourself that all doors/hatches that should be locked, are locked.
  • Never hesitate to ask or double-check if you are unsure of what to do of if you think a situation should be handled. No question is ‘dumb’, and always better be safe than sorry.
  • Our animals’ welfare, safety and needs always come first. Our sanctuary rescues animals frequently, so some schedules and rules will change to meet the specialised needs of our animals. Keeping animals happy and busy is a major task at our sanctuary. Whenever you have an idea, please discuss this with a member of staff (e.g., enrichments and improvements of enclosures).
  • Please also report if you see anything broken or that an enclosure is at risk from rust, etc. Please help to observe the animals at the sanctuary so we can detect any problems as soon as possible. Always tell someone as soon possible when you notice something out of the ordinary.

Note any observed wounds or behaviour that is out of the ordinary for the animals and report this to a member of staff. This may be an animal that is mostly cared for by you and we need your help to ensure that all animals are happy and well while they are with us.

  • Our dogs and cats at the centre belong to the staff and are generally friendly. However, let them approach you for attention rather than you approach them. Don’t feed them from the table and don’t let them into your room.

Volunteer duties

  • Please be on time for your volunteer duties. If your job starts at 7AM be there at 7AM. It is not fair on other people if you turn up too late and they have to wait for you.
  • Volunteers usually work 6 days a week depending on the needs of the sanctuary. Days off are assigned on a weekly basis. However, if we are short on volunteers or if we have many people to train, we may ask that you are flexible with booking days off.

  • Please advise the Volunteer Coordinator if you are feeling ill. Depending on the job you have been allocated, you may be asked to switch for the day or asked to return to bed.
  • Please do not wear any jewellery whilst working in the sanctuary. It is possible to get jewellery stuck in cages or on tools when working.
  • Headphones should not be worn whilst around the sanctuary. Apart from the risk or being distracted and grabbed by animals, it can be dangerous if you cannot hear any warnings being shouted out. NO SPEAKERS near the animals.
  • For all jobs you will find the tools you need in the workshop. Please treat these with respect and return them to the correct place after use. If you use brooms or tools please clean them and put them back where they belong so that the sanctuary is kept tidy and people can find things easily.
  • Make sure the areas inside and outside the workshop and the coldroom are always clean, whatever job you are doing. Before you leave make sure all areas are swept and cleaned. This is both for hygiene and to stop unwanted visitors such as monkeys, rats and snakes.
  • Every task involved with the big cats will have at least 2 persons allocated to it, one of whom will be an experienced volunteer or a caretaker. Please do not ever feed or clean out the animal enclosures alone.
  • Never walk around the enclosures with food or drink or whilst smoking. The animals will react on this.
  • Please take care during and after heavy rainfall as the ground becomes very slippery.

Dress code

To preserve the reputation of TLF, volunteers are asked to behave in a respectable manner at all times and to dress accordingly. Please remember that we are guests in this community. Please consider what kind of impression you make when you dress.

It is mandatory for everyone to wear footwear (no bare feet) for safety reasons. Ground based infections such as tetanus and a variety of parasites are not uncommon. Toe, foot, and ankle injuries are the most common type of injury at the sanctuary, because the whole area is quite rocky and some volunteers tend to wear unsuitable footwear. Closed toe rubber shoes (“crocs” style) are quite popular and are safer than flip-flops.

Volunteer house, kitchen & bedrooms

  • The volunteers on duty wash the dishes after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Please always wash your own cups and glasses and remember to clean up yourself when cooking your own breakfast, snacks, etc, so others can use the cookware provided, especially at breakfast. Please wash everything up straight after using it.
  • BE CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS! You are now living in a group situation, which may be difficult to adjust to. Think about other people before leaving a mess.
  • Label your own food and do not take other people’s food. Unfortunately, if your food is unlabeled, people do not know who it belongs to and may feel inclined to take it (i.e., beer, etc.). We have a communal refrigerator where you can store personal items. Please remember, if you did not buy it then it’s not yours.
  • Smoking is confined to a specified area. Do not smoke in the bedrooms!!! Please do not smoke at the dining tables, or around the sanctuary. Ensure your cigarettes are put out properly and empty the ashtrays on a regular basis.
  • Milk is ONLY offered for tea, coffee and other hot drinks. If you wish to have cereal with milk, please buy your own milk.
  • Bread, eggs, jams, condiments, tea and coffee are provided for all volunteers.
  • Please empty rubbish bins when full and replace with a fresh bag. Full bags are to be placed in the waste disposal area.
  • Always keep all communal areas, including your room, clean.
  • Noise is a real issue. Please consider the volunteers who need to sleep close to the communal area. Noise should be kept to a minimum after 22:00. Remember we have wild animals at the sanctuary, who will react to noise unusual to them. If they are under stress, they could fall ill.
  • Do not bring your bedding out of your room to sit on in the volunteer house. Bugs will crawl in and cause discomfort to you at night. This bedding will then need to be thrown out and replaced, at expense to the sanctuary.
  • You may receive new roommates at some point during your stay. Please keep note of this and ensure the room is clean and tidy when a new volunteer is due to arrive.
  • Bedding can be changed at the laundry and changes are encouraged once a week. Please do not take more than one set of bedding.
  • Do not leave fans and lights on in your bedroom during the day. It will not keep the room cooler
    at night when you wish to be there, and it will drain energy needed for the sanctuary during the day. If fans and lights are left on, do not be surprised if someone enters your room to turn it off.
  • Please recycle glass/plastic bottles, cans and plastic in the bins provided.
  • If you are the last one to go to bed at night, please turn off all lights in communal areas.
  • When moving out, please remember to take your bedding to the laundry, leave your bedroom and bathroom in the condition in which you would like to find it on your arrival, and please be packed up and ready to leave your room by 08:00. You can store your bags in the corner of the room, or in the Volunteer Coordinator office. Please return your keys during work hours.

Drugs and alcohol policy / socialising on and off site

  • TLF has a Zero Tolerance for drugs. If volunteers are found with illegal substances or narcotics, they will immediately be escorted off premises, AND reported to police. If police find you on site with drugs, they can have the sanctuary closed to all foreign visitors and volunteers, which means we would have to close the sanctuary.
  • Between the hours of 5PM and 7PM we sell alcohol at the bar, and we allow socialising in the Volunteer House and kitchen area. However, when the bar closes, please keep the noise down. Remember other volunteers may not want to socialise, and we have many animals living here. The communal area should be quiet at 22:00. Drunken behaviour will not be tolerated, so please be respectful.
  • Working with wild animals early in the morning when you have a hangover is dangerous for yourself, other volunteers and the animals! If we think you are hung over, we will tell you to return to bed and not work. If you turn up to work drunk, you will be expelled from the sanctuary.
  • We do not encourage it, but if you desperately wish to go out clubbing and drinking in town, please ensure you have booked accommodation in town and taken the next day off, and do not wear TLF clothing, giving the sanctuary a bad name. The reserve’s gate will be closed at sunset, which is between 6PM and 7PM.
  • Relationships with the staff are prohibited. Gossip travels fast, and such behaviour reflects badly upon the sanctuary.
  • Relationships with other volunteers are discouraged. We realise that you may be attracted to someone and that the attraction may even be mutual, but we have also found that relationships are not always happy and do not always end well, which can easily cause friction withing the volunteer group. We want all of you to have a wonderful experience and be happy during your stay here (and, of course, afterwards).


  • You do anything to harm or cause distress to any animal, including touching the animals
    • Your behaviour is causing distress to staff and/or volunteers
    • You have acted with reckless disregard for the safety of staff or volunteers, or have caused them actual harm
    • Your use of alcohol is considered excessive or unacceptable by staff
    • You are found using or being in possession of illegal substances
    • You are charged with a criminal offense during your placement
    • You have acted in such a way that you are likely to bring a bad reputation to the organisation
    • You are not fulfilling your obligations as a volunteer and continually refuse to carry out reasonable requests
    • You do not follow the rules outlined in this document

Thank you again for choosing to volunteer with us. We hope you have a wonderful experience here at TLF!!! On behalf of the animals, thank you for your time and dedication.


The Lions Foundation
Schrikkloof Private Nature Reserve
Farm Schrikkloof 951
Alma Road
Bela-Bela, Limpopo

Office Contact
+27 (83) 630-2081 (during regular office hours)

Volunteer Coordinator Contact
+27 (83) 630-1059

Email: info@thelionsfoundation.com

You can also find further information on

Internet – www.thelionsfoundation.com, www.stichtingleeuw.nl and www.schrikkloof.com   

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/TheLionsFoundation

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/thelionsfoundation/