Aquila's Animal Rescue Centre

As an anti-poaching, registered, non-profit animal rescue organisation, we form an integral part of Aquila’s conservation and wildlife rehabilitation initiatives. Established in 1998 ARC (Aquila’s Animal Rescue Centre), is a non-profit Section 21 South African organisation (#2004/011009/08). Our mission is to conserve the Western Cape’s unique biomes and endangered species, ensuring Africa’s natural animal heritage is protected from the developing, modern world.

Who We Are

Going beyond our work to eliminate immediate threats like poaching, invasive species, and habitat loss, we work hand-in-hand with local communities and South African organisations to ensure our initiatives encompass a wide range of conservation and upliftment projects.

At ARC, we have established the Western Cape’s largest wildlife sanctuary for animals that can no longer be released into the wild, providing them with a safe and stimulating environment to live out their lives in peace. 


Motivated by his desire to share his love of the wild with Cape Town, Searl Derman, Founder and Owner of Aquila, set out to reintroduce the Big 5 to the Western Cape. During his search for a species most closely resembling the Cape Lion, Searl encountered an industry that deeply shook him to the core—the canned hunting industry. Aquila is passionately opposed to canned hunting, making it one of the reserve’s core values to combat its practice wherever and whenever possible.

Since its establishment, all the lions at Aquila have been rescued from the clutches of the canned hunting industry. The nature of canned hunting requires the removal of cubs from their mothers at birth, initiating a process of irreversible hand-rearing that had to continue at Aquila. As the lions matured and became self-sufficient hunters, a separate reserve was established within Aquila’s boundaries.

An entire mountainous region has been set aside to create the Animal Rehabilitation and Rescue Centre, creating a much larger space than the requirements set down by South Africa’s nature conservation guidelines. 

Word quickly spread that Aquila was the go-to sanctuary for the rescue and rehabilitation of injured, endangered, and abused animals. It wasn’t long before another group of lions arrived at Aquila’s doorstep. While it was hoped that they could eventually be introduced to the existing pride in their reserve after being weaned, unfortunate circumstances made this impossible. However, this setback was transformed into an opportunity for development that has since evolved in the A.R.C. (Aquila Rehabilitation Centre), a Section 21 company recognised by the esteemed “Campaign Against Canned Hunting.”