WSW has visited and written about the following sanctuaries and rated them for you according to our list of criteria (whihc you can see on our Sanctuaries page) but also according to the volunteering experience they offer.
Modisa Wildlife Project (Botswana)
Mikkel Legarth from Denmark and Valentin Gruener from Germany met on a wildlife farm in Africa in 2009 as volunteers and together decided to found Modisa Wildlife Project.
By cooperating with leading researchers in Botswana and with the University of Texas At Austin, Modisa Wildlife Project has the unique opportunity to create positive changes in local communities which in turn will create a better understanding of and a brighter future for wildlife and the big cats of Botswana.
"Modisa Wildlife Project is an extremely ambitious project led by two passionate young people. They are caring for over 31 lions which they plan to reintroduce in the game reserve in the future. If that happens it will be a great success for Botswana. They welcome a huge number of volunteers who get to do a whole lot of activities from building camp to feeding the animals. They are young but knowledgeable, very friendly and it's a pleasure to be working alongside them. Accommodation is simple, people sleep in tents, which they sometimes have to share, but that only means you'll get to spend more time with people who share your interests. Food is equally simple but delicious and the local workers are also very knowledgeable and great to talk to. I recommend the project to anyone with a passion for wildlife and I would myself go back anytime!," Mahina Perrot, WSW founder.
Riverside Wildlife Rehabilitation and Educational Center (South Africa)
Riverside was established during 1992 and is presently rehabilitating Vervet monkeys (Cercopheticus aethiops), Samango monkeys (Cercophiticus mitis), Chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) and more! These animals come from various sources having being kept illegally as pets or orphaned due to whatever reasons.
It is a hands on rehab centre dealing specifically with primates (vervet and samango monkeys, baboons, 2 species bush babies) birds, antelope and reptiles. Volunteers get involved with the rehab program and be part of Riverside's successes with 19 troops (560 monkeys) being successfully rehabilitated and returned to the wild.
"Riverside Wildlife Rehabilitation project is probably the best-managed wildlife sanctuary I have come across so far. Animals are properly cared for, by an experienced staff and by the primatologists Bob and Lynne Venter. The animals have access to fresh food every day and are kept in immaculate, large enclosures. After having formed a troop, Vervet monkeys and Chacma baboons are then transferred into a semi-wild enclosure where they learn to fend for themselves. After a few years they are released back into the wild. This project is very well structured and all their releases have ben successful so far. Riverside offers accommodation in lovely chalets for volunteers who come from all over the world to give them a hand. I am grateful for my time there and recommend the place to anyone who wants to give their time for a cause!," Mahina Perrot, WSW founder.
Meno A Kwena Tented Camp is ideally located for safaris into three ecologically pristine wildlife sanctuaries including the Okavango Delta & Makgadikgadi Saltpans system and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
Their ideal location and all year round access to wildlife allows them to offer numerous booking options for all enquiries; fully inclusive, mobile safaris and self drive guests. Resident wildlife includes elephant, hippo, crocodile, lion, leopard, wild dogs, cheetah, hyaena and a wide variety of antelope and springbok.
"Meno A Kwena is not a sanctuary per se but the Safari Company has always helped the local wildlife, providing waterholes for thirsty animals migrating each year. It is also helping the government by fixing the fence it has put up to avoid human-wildlife conflicts and regularly talks to and offers employment for the local community. The luxury tents are a pure delight, the view is absolutely incredible, the staff amazing and the food simply perfect. It is also a wonderful place from where guests can view the largest migration of zebras and wildebeests in Botswana. A must see!," Mahina Perrot, WSW founder.
Cheetah Conservation Botswana aims to preserve the nation's cheetah population through scientific research, community outreach and education, working with rural communities to promote coexistence with Botswana's rich diversity of predator species.
The project was formed in 2003 to address the threat to the nation's cheetah population. The major challenge for the project, funded by grant aid and donor support, is one of improving community perceptions towards predators and ensuring that retaliatory killings do not continue to threaten cheetah numbers, while, at the same time, supporting and protecting rural community welfare.
"Cheetah Conservation Botswana does not offer accommodation for guests but accepts a few interns each year. The project has grown a lot in just a few years and has helped reduce the number of farmers killing cheetah and other wildlife. It also raises puppies which it gives to local farmers to keep with their goats to prevent predators from taking their livestock. A fantastic idea! Everyone working there is extremely knowledgeable, hard-working and open-minded. Great work!", Mahina Perrot, WSW founder.
Bear With Us Sanctuary and Rehabilitation Centre for bears (Canada)
Mike McIntosh., founder of Bear With US Rehabilitation Centre keeps bears that have either been injured or orphaned as a result of hunters killing their mothers and then leaving the cubs behind. Mike usually gets calls from the department of conservation as well as from local people who have found the bears and takes them in.
He has created several big enclosures which can accommodate dozens of bears that, once they have fully recovered, are released into the canadian wilderness. In the meantime they find at Mike's place a shelter and a home and a couple of bears who can never be released are living there permanently.
"Bear With Us is run by one man whose humble mission in life is to teach people about how to live in harmony with bears. He has created a large sanctuary and rescues orphaned and injured bears which he later releases. Mike is a fascinating man and the stories he has to tell are just as compelling. Bear With Us is a sanctuary and does not offer accommodation but is open all year round for anyone who wants to visit. Do not hesitate to contact him, he'll be more than happy to share a bit of his passion with you!," Mahina Perrot, WSW founder.
Mokolodi Nature Reserve is situated in a magnificent 3700 hectare acacia bushveld valley, 15 kilometres south of Botswana's capital city, Gaborone. Animals to be found within the park include white rhino, giraffe, zebra, eland, gemsbok, blue wildebeest, red hertebeest, as well as brown hyaena and leopard. The Reserve has numerous species of lizards, snakes and other reptiles and also has a vast range of resident and migratory bird species.
Mokolodi Nature Reserve operates on a not-for-profit basis. The fee-based activity and accommodation services offered to the visiting public are the primary conduit to achieving the Foundation's charitable objectives and enable it to enrich the lives of children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"At Mokolodi Nature Reserve, guests will be able to meet a lot of animals. These are properly cared for and Mokolodi also has a rehabilitation center which enables them to take in any injured animal and care for it before releasing it back into the wild. Guests have the opportunity to stay in chalets by a small man-made lake, in the middle of the bush. The complex also has a lovely restaurant and the food is exquisite. Staff are very friendly and knowledgeable, and a pleasure to talk with," Mahina Perrot, WSW founder.
Khama Rhino Sanctuary is one of the few places in Botswana where you will find a variety of wildlife and natural resources. They believe that natural resources are a great resource to this country and that, therefore, they should be protected, and cared for at all cost.
Their animals are free to roam but spectacular game viewing is possible from your vehicle from the many roads in the Sanctuary. The animals seem to be used to slow moving vehicles and will pose for you if you are quiet and stay in the vehicle - obviously, for safety reasons, you should remain in your vehicle at all times.
"This sanctuary is an amazing place for enfandered animals who are protected by the army. However accommodation for guests is not always available and not very high standard although they plan on developing this in the future. Guides are knowledgeable but there are rumors that guides will sometimes shoot in the air without apparent reason to scare the animals and get tips from tourists. While WSW hasn't seen it happen, it does not encourage such practice. Nevertheless the place is breathtaking and the animals live in a natural heaven", Mahina Perrot, WSW founder.
During the year 2011 I got the amazing opportunity to spend three months at WROH, in Florida. This wildlife rehabilitation centre was a real heaven for the animals that lived there. Wildlife Rehabilitation of Hernando (WROH) was created about 11 years ago by a man and his wife, both incredibly passionate about wildlife.
The sanctuary was founded to provide a place for injured or orphaned wildlife to be brought to, cared for, given medical treatment, food and a chance to recover before being released back into the wild. Orphaned animals are taken care of and taught to survive in the wild, and then given a soft release. Although privately-owned, the park was also open to anyone interested in visiting and learning more about the animals. The sanctuary doesn't make profits from the visits though and any money which is donated went directly towards feeding the animals.
"WROH is the first sanctuary I visited and where WSW started. I am grateful to Jim who acted like a mentor, and his daughter, Chelsea, who was like a sister to me during my time there. It is a private sanctuary, and not all the animals can be released, but they have rescued animals kept as exotic pets from all over the place and care for them properly. The enclosures are large and immaculate and the food given to the animals appropriate and fresh", Mahina Perrot, WSW founder.