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Birds of the World

This project is based in the world’s largest free-flight aviary and bird sanctuary. It is dedicated to the rehabilitation and care of hundreds of species of birds and is a must for anyone passionate about birds and small animal rehabilitation.

Birds of the World


Location Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
Duration From 4 weeks
Dates All year round
  • You must have an Upper Intermediate level of English
  • Special skills: An honest desire to help birds and a true love for nature
Minimum Age: 18
Your impact
Documents required Enrolment form, curriculum vitae, letter of motivation, passport copy, proof of medical insurance
Day of arrival Sunday
Day of departure Sunday


  • Work up close with a large variety of African birds.
  • Experience the Garden Route’s natural beauty.
  • Take part in a variety of activities outside of the project: Bloukrans Bungy (the world’s highest commercial bridge bungy jump), waterfall Zipline, elephant & snake sanctuaries, wine estates, skydiving, whale watching, swimming with seals, adventure boating, kloofing, kayaking, and more.
  • From the accommodation, you are transferred daily to the projects Monkey Sanctuary, Wild Cats and Birds of the World. It is therefore possible to combine any of these projects.
  • Make new friends from all over the world.

Project Information

The Birds of the World project is located in a unique two-hectare dome (the world’s largest), which spans over a gorge of indigenous forest. The sanctuary’s development grew from the need to create a safe environment in which to release a large collection of free-flight African birds and miniature monkeys. The sanctuary also enables bird owners to apply to release their pet birds into the sanctuary after the birds have undergone rehabilitation.

The project’s goal is to create an experience where visitors leave with a greater understanding of our planet's wildlife and the threats they are facing. One of the main goals is to educate the public about the adverse effects of keeping wild animals as pets, in terms of both physical and psychological health. Also important is to teach visitors about the rapid decline of natural habitats due to logging, mining, agriculture and human settlements.

The project’s mission is:

  • to encourage understanding and commitment to the conservation of  wildlife - especially primates, birds and apex cats;
  • to communicate the need for healthy natural habitats and recognition of animals’ need for interdependence of people, their natural environment and its component resources;
  • a commitment to reaching and engaging the largest number of people possible to enable them, through knowledge and understanding, to develop the motivation and skills to make informed choices about their lives in relation to the wise use of the natural resources around them.

Your Role

Monday to Friday, from 08:00 to 16:00/17:00.

A possible work schedule could be:
08:00 - Arrive at the sanctuary to help out with the morning duties comprising:

  • Cleaning out the cages that currently have birds in them by washing the food and water bowls and giving a fresh change of newspaper.
  • Prepping the food that will be dispersed through various cages. These include the privately owned aviaries as well as the pre-release cages for the birds being introduced into the park.

08:30 - The cages mentioned above are cleaned, the birds fed and the water is changed. The birds are monitored for their general well-being and how they are progressing.

09:00 - A section of the sanctuary’s boardwalk is designated to each volunteer to remove all old food and faeces from the planks, barriers and feeding platforms.

9:30 to 15:00 - Range of tasks:

  • taking guided tours / media parties through the forest
  • helping with small maintenance jobs
  • helping with the 11:00 feeding
  • keeping the sanctuary clean by picking up litter
  • looking for nests of certain species and monitoring the animals in the sanctuary
  • looking after the guests who are doing self-guided tours

Lunchtime is generally from 13:00 until 13:30.

15:30 to 16:00 - Give certain birds the special attention they might require, whether medical or otherwise. Prepare and store food for the following day and make sure that everything is locked and put away safely. Sometimes it is required of volunteers to remove all the feed bowls in the sanctuary so that they do not attract vermin. These are taken back to the farm area.

Please note: At no time is human contact with the birds allowed and a very strict "HANDS OFF" approach towards the birds is enforced. 

It is important to note that this description serves as an example only. The daily tasks and challenges depend on the volunteer, the time of the year and the work that needs to be done. The final job description can therefore vary substantially from the above.


You stay in a backpackers’ based in The Crags, a rural suburb of greater Plettenberg Bay. The backpackers’ is set in a 5 hectare smallholding amidst indigenous forest and open grazing pastures. You are accommodated in shared rooms and/or in under-cover luxury Safari bow-tents that come fully equipped with carpets, beds, linen, electric blankets, lights etc. You will, where required, be sharing with one or two other volunteers. There are numerous bathrooms for communal access and use. The main homestead is equipped with an office, TV lounge, two kitchens plus a large verandah, with a residents’ bar, and two fire-hearths for those chilly nights. It is here that guests and hosts gather for social interaction and where evening meals are served for all to enjoy. Immediately adjacent is an outdoor braai (BBQ) area, while close by, is a combination plunge pool/hot-tub (the latter fired up for Fridays) plus a golf practice putting green and a proper boule/petanque track where guests soon get to know their co-guests. Bedding and towels are provided and your laundry will be done regularly on a wash and fold basis by the housekeeper. Free WiFi is available at the main homestead area only.