Local and overseas volunteers play an integral part in operations at our Table View (Western Cape) and Gqeberha (Eastern Cape) centres, providing thousands of hours of much-needed conservation work on a daily basis. Volunteers must be over the age of 18, hard working and passionate about saving seabirds.
For under 18 years: In Cape Town, school-going groups under 18 years of age are accommodated through off-site volunteer experience programmes and Gqeberha has specially designed programmes for young people under 18.
SANCCOB relies on volunteer support to carry out operational tasks at both centres. If you are seeking a place where you can donate your time and make a meaningful impact, then contact us.
Get hands-on experience working with endangered African penguins and other seabirds at the world renowned SANCCOB seabird centres in Cape Town or Gqeberha in South Africa.
- You must be 18 years and over
- No experience necessary
- Minimum 6 weeks in Cape Town or Gqeberha
- Placements all year round, with the busiest time in Cape Town from October to March.
As an international volunteer you will become an extension of our team of Bird rehabilitators, helping with most handling and feeding tasks.
Unfortunately, SANCCOB does not provide accommodation – but we can recommend accommodation used by many international volunteers in the past.
Your programme fee for a six week period will include a volunteer T-shirt and a seabird release trip (weather and bird permitting). Further information about the Cape Town and Gqeberha international volunteer programmes are available in the respective documents below.
Local volunteers play an important role at SANCCOB’s centres in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape and are needed 365 days a year to perform tasks such as:
- Assisting with seabird rehabilitation, cleaning and feeding birds
- Driving/collecting seabirds
- General centre maintenance and cleaning
- Answering phones
- Education/behind the scenes tours
Volunteers must be 18 years or older and reside permanently in the Cape Peninsula (Western Cape) or in the local Eastern Cape surrounds. Half day and full day shifts are available week days and over weekends. Our volunteers assist with important daily operational tasks to support SANCCOB’s rehabilitation team.
Further information about the Cape Town and Gqeberha local volunteer programmes are available in the respective documents below.
Clubs For Young People in Gqeberha – Eastern Cape
SANCCOB Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) in the Eastern Cape offers conservation-focused educational meet ups for young people, which includes a chance to assist with kid-friendly and supervised tasks around the centre.
The Little Blues Club (6–11 year olds)
The Little Blues Club (7–11 year olds) gathers on the second Saturday of every month from 09h00 to 11h00 and 12h00 to 14h00. Attendees receive a fun-filled lesson and participate in a related activity which could include beach clean-ups, assistance with small tasks in the Rehabilitation Department, nature walks artwork and loads more.
The cost is R65 per child and includes a light lunch. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Penguin Protectors Club (12-17 year olds)
The Penguin Protectors Club (12-17 year olds) members meets on the fourth Saturday of each month from 09h00 to 11h00 and 12h00 to 14h00 to enjoy a fun lesson to stimulate environmental interests, assist with tasks at the facility, as well as participate in activities such as beach clean-ups and nature walks.
The cost is R65 per session and a light lunch will be included.
Connect with email@example.com for more information and to join The Penguin Protectors Club.
Training Opportunities Offered Through SANCCOB Internships
Our seabird internships are structured, mentored training programmes with a strong focus on skills development – suitable for returning volunteers, university students, graduates, post graduates, employees and volunteers in the fields of animal science, husbandry, care and welfare related fields. Previous experience working with birds is desirable though not essential.
Volunteers who have completed our international volunteer programme are eligible for a 50% discount on all our internship programmes.
Upon acceptance into the programme, all interns are required to pay a refundable R2,000 fee to secure their place. This is refunded in South African Rands after successful completion of the programme.
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What People Say About Their SANCCOB Experience
“This is the first penguin release I have been a part of on my adventures to South Africa and it will be a memory that I will cherish forever. To be part of the bigger picture and knowing that we are doing our part to help this endangered species is more than I could have ever imagined.”
- Tracy Camp
“The experience I gained was second to none and I believe this was the best possible experience I have ever gained in my career as an animal scientist. SANCCOB is a world leader in coastal bird rehabilitation and whilst there you can see why. The staff is amazing and knowledgeable, offering help and advice whilst answering any question.
I managed to help with veterinarian procedures and assist in treatment that just wouldn’t be possible anywhere else.”
- Richard Smedley
“There was no such thing as a typical day in the weeks we were at SANCCOB. We did a variety of tasks and most days we were on our feet non-stop from 8 am to 5 pm assisting with the treatment, and care of injured and sick birds. Back at the Zoo’s veterinary hospital, we regularly draw and examine the blood samples of the Penguin Coast colony, a skill which proved to be valuable at SANCCOB because we can do it quickly and confidently. We also utilized our experience to lend a hand as SANCCOB’s head veterinarian performed surgeries on injured penguins (leg injuries from seal bites are one of the most common traumas).”
- Jennifer Sohl
“The range of birds I’ve been able to work with is quite staggering. I’ve hand-reared tiny African penguin and Hartlaub gull chicks. I’ve helped to rehabilitate seabirds ranging in size from the delicate Swift Terns to massive pelicans and giant petrels. I’ve even learned to handle (and been bitten by cormorants). I’ve also had the opportunity to observe species I wouldn’t ordinarily be able to see without a trip to Antarctica, such as the Shy Albatross and the Skua.
As well as rehabilitation work I’ve learned about common diseases and problems in seabirds, and attended a number of releases – which is what makes the whole rehabilitation process worthwhile, long hours, heartbreak and all. There is nothing so rewarding as watching those precious little babies who we all pour so much love, time and effort into, taking their very first dip in the ocean, or being restored to health to get back to where they’re supposed to be.”
- Fran Bell