The Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary is located on the Bahati Estate, a 5 000-hectare wilderness estate in Vaalwater, Limpopo Province, South Africa – about 300 kilometres from OR Tambo International Airport. As a participant in the Bahati Volunteer Programme, you will help us take care of 44 big cats and have the opportunity to participate in the day-to-day life of Bahati, a working farm in Vaalwater.

Vaalwater lies on the southern-edge of the Waterberg biosphere reserve, which has a stunning mix of habitats including mountainous regions, rolling grasslands, forests, cliff caves and river gorges. The region is home to a variety of indigenous mammals such as lion, buffalo, giraffe and white rhino and the climate is ideal for the sanctuary.

The Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary is currently home to 42 lions and two sub-adult Siberian tigers. Two of the lions are the world-famous Masrya and Nero, who were brought to the sanctuary from the state-of-the-art Stichting Leeuw sanctuary in the Netherlands. Another lion, Serabie, has also received world acclaim through the award-winning documentary “Saving Serabie”.

The 33 lions rescued from various circuses in South America by Animal Defenders International (ADI) arrived on 1 May 2016. Three more lions – Tristan, Nala and Asali – have just joined us from Stichting Leeuw, bringing the total number of lions at Emoya to 42.


Did you know?

  • Emoya is not open to the general public but you may visit the sanctuary by appointment only.
  • Emoya has a NO BREEDING policy.
  • Emoya honours a code of NO INTERACTION with its cats.
  • Emoya was founded by a 16-year-old girl who had a dream to provide sanctuary to abused and neglected big cats.
What you will do on the programme:

Currently our volunteer programme runs for a minimum period of two weeks. The focus of the programme is on the big cats. Bahati is also a working farm with sheep, cattle and game. Volunteers will have the opportunity to work with our livestock as well as get a taste of general farm maintenance.

  • Morning checks
  • Checking electrical fencing
  • Cleaning of fences
  • Cleaning of cat enclosures
  • Cleaning of water holes
  • Enrichment of cats
  • Preparing of meat
  • Maintenance and cleaning of cold / freezer rooms
  • Evening feeds
  • Animal observation
  • Photos and videos
  • Assistance to veterinary care when needed
  • Building and upgrading of enclosures
Cost of the programme:

For details on the cost of the programme please request information using the form on this page. The cost of the programme includes:

  • Transfers from and to OR Tambo International
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner (mostly vegetarian)
  • Tea, coffee and water are freely available
  • Seasonal fruit will be available
  • Daily servicing – laundry (3 x week)
  • Wifi and Internet
  • For details on the cost of the programme please request information using the Form on this page.

The following is not included in the cost of the Bahati Volunteer Programme (in addition to anything not mentioned above):

  • Visa
  • Vaccinations
  • Travel expenses (international and local flights)
  • Health, travel and cancellation insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Cigarettes (please note all rooms and common areas are non-smoking)
  • Snacks

Request Volunteer Information

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