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Save the Seabirds

This internationally recognised organization aims to reverse the decline of seabird populations through the rescue, rehabilitation and release of ill, injured, and abandoned seabirds – especially endangered seabirds like the penguin and the cormorant.

Save the Seabirds


Location Table View (near Cape Town), South Africa
Duration From 6 weeks
Dates All year round
  • You must have an upper intermediate level of English
  • Special skills: You must be physically fit and have a love for animals
Minimum Age: 18
Your impact
Documents required Enrolment form, curriculum vitae, letter of motivation, passport copy, proof of medical insurance
Day of arrival Saturday
Day of departure Saturday


  • Help to save seabirds and to ensure the future of the African penguin.
  • Participate in releasing seabirds.
  • Experience the sea-life of South Africa.
  • Experience amazing tours and adventures in and around Cape Town.
  • Receive personal support from the volunteer coordinator.
  • Share this experience with other volunteers from all over the world.

Project Information

The Save the Seabirds project’s primary objective is to reverse the decline of seabird populations through the rescue, rehabilitation and release of ill, injured, abandoned and oiled seabirds – especially endangered seabirds like the African penguin and the Bank cormorant. Since being established in 1968, the project has treated more than 95 000 seabirds. The organisation works closely with colony managers to identify birds in need of care in the wild and bring them to one of its two centres for rehabilitation and hand-rearing.

In a non-spill year, the project treats almost 2500 seabirds, of which approximately 1500 are African penguins, at both of its strategically placed centres in Cape Town (Western Cape) and Cape St. Francis (Eastern Cape). Other seabirds treated by the project include all species of cormorants (including the endangered Bank cormorant); all species of terns; pelagic birds such as albatrosses and petrels; and oystercatchers, gulls, pelicans and other coastal and seabirds that are found in the region.

The projects’ rehabilitation centres are registered with the South African Veterinary Council and recognised internationally as a leader in the field of seabird rehabilitation.

Your Role

A normal working day is from 08:00 to 15:30. Lunch is from 13:00 to 14:00. There is a short break in the morning and in the afternoon.

You will be involved with the following seabird care duties:

  • Catching and handling different seabirds.
  • Defrosting and preparing fish for a variety of seabird species.
  • Administering medication such as ointments or tablets to a variety of species.
  • Hydrating (tubing) different seabird species.
  • Feeding (force feeding or free feeding) different seabird species.
  • Assisting with bird release preparation.
  • Participating in a bird release (weather and bird depending).
  • Scrubbing and cleaning of bird enclosures, mats, crates, pools.
  • Washing and drying of towels and sheets.
  • Cleaning of all food preparation and feeding equipment used.

You will get involved in all areas throughout the year. Other possible activities that you might be asked to do are kitchen duties, occasional centre maintenance duties (including painting, weeding, enclosure construction) as well as assisting in the education department from time to time.

Please note that working with the seabirds is not for the faint-hearted! There is the wonderful side of working hands-on with the different types of seabirds including African penguins. All the seabirds in the projects care are, however, wild and not as cute and cuddly as one would like to think they are – some are downright mean, can bite very sore and should be handled with caution. 

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 will be accommodated in a guest house in a 4-bed dorm-style room with others of the same sex. There is a communal bathroom with a shower to share. The house is equipped with a comfortable communal lounge including a TV, a DVD player and a selection of movies for your entertainment as well as a library where you can find several great books, travel guides and informative magazines. A communal kitchen is available. The guest house has a tropical garden with a pool, which invites you to relax. 

The rooms are cleaned every day with change of linen once a week. You also have one free bag of laundry per week. WiFi is included.