Frequently Asked Questions



Our Animal Rescue Centre

The animals housed at ARC are not available for public viewing. In order to prioritise their well-being and facilitate their potential release and rehabilitation back into the wild, human interaction is limited to an absolute minimum. 

We encourage guests to visit our nearby wildlife reserves, such as Inverdoorn Private Game Reserve and Aquila Big 5 Safaris, where you can experience and appreciate the beauty of South Africa’s wildlife in their natural habitats. By visiting our reserves, you not only have a memorable safari experience but also contribute directly to our conservation initiatives.

While we appreciate your interest in volunteering, we do not offer volunteering opportunities at ARC at this time. 

However, we warmly welcome donations to support our ongoing efforts in caring for and rehabilitating wildlife. Your contributions play a crucial role in our mission to protect and conserve all our animals.

Yes, ARC (Aquila’s Animal Rescue Centre) is a non-profit Section 21 organisation (#2004/011009/08) that has been protecting and rehabilitating South African wildlife for more than 20 years.

Donations refer to voluntary contributions made by individuals or organisations without any expectation of receiving goods or services in return. 

As a Section 21 non-profit organisation, we operate exclusively for charitable or public benefit purposes, aiming to make a positive impact on wildlife conservation and rehabilitation. Donors who contribute to our cause may be eligible to receive a section 18A certificate.

For valid donations, a section 18A donation certificate will be provided. This certificate contains essential details, such as your name, donation amount, date, and relevant information.

However, please be aware that there might be limits on the percentage of taxable income that donors can claim as deductions (usually no more than 10% of one’s annual income). It’s essential to familiarise yourself with the current SARS regulations to understand the applicable limits.

For specific advice on tax deductions and the eligibility of your donation, we recommend consulting a tax professional or reaching out to SARS directly. They will be able to provide you with tailored guidance based on your individual circumstances. 

Your generous contribution plays a vital role in supporting our ongoing efforts to protect and rehabilitate South Africa’s wildlife and conserve natural habitats in the Western Cape.

At ARC, we ensure every donation is allocated prudently and used efficiently to achieve meaningful conservation outcomes. Your donation will be used in various key areas, including but not limited to:

  • Wildlife Rehabilitation: Your support helps us provide critical care and rehabilitation to injured, distressed or orphaned wildlife, enabling them to return to the wild as soon as possible.
  • Habitat Conservation: ARC actively works to safeguard and restore natural habitats and reserves across the Western Cape, creating safe environments for wildlife to thrive once again.
  • Community Upliftment Projects: ARC collaborates with local communities, fostering harmonious coexistence between people and nature through upliftment projects such as our Eco Synergy System.
  • Anti-Poaching Initiatives: Your donation contributes towards our efforts in combating poaching and protecting endangered species, such as Saving Private Rhino.
  • Conservation Research and Education: We invest in research and educational programmes to raise awareness about wildlife and conservation, inspiring future generations to appreciate and protect South Africa’s natural heritage.

Searl Derman, founder and owner of Aquila Private Game Reserve, established ARC (Aquila’s Animal Rescue and Conservation Centre) as part of his ongoing commitment to preserving and protecting Cape Town’s wildlife and natural habitats.

The Animal Rescue Centre (ARC) was founded in 1998. 

At our Rescue and Conservation Centre (ARC), we provide attention, care, and protection to a diverse range of animals and indigenous species in need. As part of our main initiatives, we focus on rehabilitating various wild animals, including:

  • African Lion
  • Cape Leopard 
  • Southern White Rhino 
  • Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle
  • Cheetah
  • Nile Crocodile 

While our primary goal is to rehabilitate animals and release them back into the wild, unfortunate circumstances may prevent this outcome. There are several reasons why animals may be unable to return to their natural habitats:

  • Permanent Injuries or Disabilities: Animals that have sustained severe injuries or acquired permanent disabilities during accidents, conflicts, or natural disasters may no longer possess the essential survival skills needed to thrive in the wild. Releasing them could put them at significant risk and compromise their chances of survival.
  • Human Imprinting: Animals that have been hand-reared or exposed to extensive human contact from an early age (human imprinting) often become overly dependent on humans. This makes it challenging, and even dangerous) for them to be released into the wild.
  • Long-term Captivity: Animals that have spent an extended period in captivity, such as illegal wildlife pets, or rescue from exotic breeding programmes and canned hunting farms, may have difficulty relearning vital survival instincts needed to live independently in the wild.
  • Endangered or Threatened Status: In some cases, when animals belong to critically endangered or threatened species, releasing them back into the wild might not be a viable option due to the risks associated with their survival (risk of poaching) or the need to preserve their genetic diversity in captivity.


In situations where animals cannot be safely reintroduced to the wild, we provide them with a safe and stimulating home within our rescue centre. Our expert team works tirelessly to create an open and enriched environment that meets their physical and social needs.

Aquila’s Animal Rescue Centre (ARC) forms an integral component of Aquila Private Game Reserve and Inverdoorn Private Game Reserve’s conservation outreach. 

Our game reserves serve as the primary locations for releasing rehabilitated animals back into their natural habitats. These carefully chosen environments provide suitable conditions for the successful reintegration of indigenous animals while prioritising our core mission to conserve and reintroduce wildlife in the Western Cape.

Your support enables us to continue this crucial work of releasing animals back into the wild, contributing to the preservation of South Africa’s diverse wildlife and natural ecosystems. Together, we make a positive impact on the future of these incredible creatures. Thank you for being a part of our conservation efforts.


Conservation, South Africa

South Africa has incredible biodiversity, with numerous plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. Preserving our unique flora and fauna helps maintain ecological balance and resilience, while also ensuring local communities and tourists can continue to enjoy and appreciate our country’s remarkable beauty. Healthy ecosystems also provide valuable services such as clean water, air purification, and soil fertility. 

Endangered species protection is a crucial aspect, especially for iconic animals like elephants and rhinoceroses. Conservation efforts have a significant economic impact, supporting wildlife tourism and ecotourism, which contributes greatly to the country’s economy and creates job opportunities. Preserving natural habitats also maintains cultural and heritage value, as South Africa’s landscapes hold profound significance for various African communities.

Wildlife Conservation attracts tourists, researchers, and nature enthusiasts, boosting tourism and generating revenue for local communities and South Africa’s economy. Ecotourism, in particular, flourishes in areas with successful conservation initiatives, promoting responsible travel and sustainable interactions with nature. Wildlife conservation projects create job opportunities, particularly in sectors like safari guides, hospitality, and eco-lodges, uplifting local communities, often in rural and outlying areas. 

Everyone can make a significant impact on wildlife conservation in South Africa. Here are 3 meaningful ways you can help make a difference:

  • Donate: Support reputable conservation organisations, like ARC, by making financial contributions. Your donations directly fund critical projects and wildlife rehabilitation initiatives.
  • Spread Awareness: Educate others about the importance of wildlife conservation and the challenges faced by endangered species. Raise awareness among your network to inspire collective action.
  • Visit Local Game Reserves: Contribute to conservation efforts by visiting ethical and responsible wildlife reserves. Your visits help fund conservation initiatives while promoting sustainable tourism.


Your involvement, whether through donations, awareness, or responsible tourism, contributes to preserving South Africa’s precious wildlife and natural heritage. Together, we can make a difference in safeguarding these treasures for future generations.

Rhinos are poached in South Africa mainly due to the high demand for their horns in illegal markets. Rhino horn, made from Keratin (which is the same stuff your fingernails are made of), holds no medicinal or unique properties. The mistaken belief in their medicinal properties, along with the allure of status symbols and luxury goods, fuels this demand.

Saving Private Rhino, ARC’s anti-poaching unit, is committed to protecting and rescuing Africa’s rhinos from the horrors of illegal rhino horn trade and syndicated trafficking operations.

“Saving Private Rhino” is one of our main conservation initiatives established to safeguard Africa’s rhino and wildlife heritage. This comprehensive and integrated anti-poaching solution is dedicated to supporting private game reserves across the continent, assisting them in defending rhinos from poaching threats.

By joining forces with private reserves, we strive to strengthen conservation efforts and protect these iconic species for generations to come.

Canned Hunting refers to the highly controversial and unethical practice where captive-bred (and often hand-reared) animals, such as lions, are confined within enclosed areas, deprived of their natural instincts and freedom, before being hunted. These animals are raised specifically for the purpose of being hunted by paying trophy hunters.

The term “canned” comes from the idea that the animals are essentially trapped in a confined space, leaving them with no chance of escaping or defending themselves. Hunters are provided with an unfair advantage, as the animals have little opportunity to flee or survive.

Canned hunting has sparked global outrage due to its inhumane nature and lack of fair chase. It raises serious ethical concerns about the treatment of animals and the integrity of true hunting principles. Many conservationists, animal welfare organisations, and concerned individuals advocate for the abolition of canned hunting to protect the well-being of wildlife and preserve the integrity of natural ecosystems.


Cape Town's Wildlife

Cape Town, located in South Africa, boasts a rich and diverse array of wildlife. While the city itself is urbanised, there are several places in and around Cape Town where you can experience various fascinating animals.

  • Baboons: Baboons are commonly spotted in the Cape Peninsula, particularly in areas like Cape Point and Table Mountain National Park.
  • African Penguins: Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town is famous for its colony of African penguins, providing an excellent opportunity to observe these charismatic birds up close.
  • Southern Right Whales: During the whale-watching season (June to November), you can see Southern Right Whales off the coast of Cape Town, especially in Cape Agulhas, the Tip of Africa.
  • Cape Fur Seals: Seal Island, located near Simon’s Town, is home to a large colony of Cape fur seals. Boat tours offer a chance to see cape seals in their natural habitat.
  • Dassies (Rock Hyrax): These small, furry mammals can be seen on Table Mountain and other rocky areas around the city.
  • Chacma Baboons: In addition to the Cape Peninsula, you can find troops of chacma baboons in the Cape Winelands and nearby nature reserves.Various Bird Species: Cape Town is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with diverse birdlife found in wetlands, nature reserves, and coastal areas.
  • Caracals: While sightings are rare, caracals (medium-sized wild cats) have been observed in some of the city’s natural areas.


Please note that while you can see these animals in and around Cape Town, it is essential to do so responsibly and with respect for their natural habitats. Many wildlife encounters are best experienced through guided tours and visits to reputable wildlife and reserves that prioritise the well-being and conservation of the animals.

Aquila Private Game Reserve  is Cape Town’s closest Big 5 game reserve, making it the ultimate destination for wildlife enthusiasts and tourists seeking a traditional Big 5 safari experience. The reserve covers an expansive area of about 10,000 hectares and is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including:

  1. Lions

  2. Elephants

  3. Buffalos

  4. Leopards

  5. Rhinos

Aquila is also home to many indigenous African animals, including giraffe, zebra, hippos, and various antelope species. Led by experienced guides, the reserve offers a range of safari options, including game drives and day-trips in open safari vehicles.

Aquila’s Animal Rescue and Conservation Centre is less than two hours outside of Cape Town.

Cape leopards, also known as South African leopards, inhabit various mountainous regions and wilderness areas in South Africa, including parts of the Western Cape province. However, seeing Cape leopards in the wild can be quite challenging due to their elusive and solitary nature. These magnificent big cats are known for their exceptional stealth and camouflage, making them difficult to spot.

To increase your chances of potentially seeing a Cape leopard, consider visiting or exploring the following regions:

  1. Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa: Located just two hours from Cape Town, Aquila is a known habitat of Cape leopards. Although sightings are rare, some visitors have been fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of these elusive cats on guided safaris and sunset game drives.

  2. Table Mountain National Park: While not common, there have been occasional reports of Cape leopard sightings in Table Mountain National Park, particularly in the remote and less-visited areas. However, keep in mind that the chance of spotting them here is minimal due to the park’s proximity to the urbanised city of Cape Town.

  3. Other Wilderness Areas: Cape leopards may also be found in other remote wilderness regions across the Western Cape, such as the Boland Mountains and the remote valleys and ravines of the region.

Historically, Cape lions were found in the Western Cape province of South Africa, but due to habitat loss, hunting, and human-wildlife conflicts, their numbers dramatically declined. As European settlers expanded their territories and agricultural practices, the lions’ natural habitats were reduced, leading to increased encounters with humans and livestock.

Cape lions were hunted extensively as a result of human-lion conflicts and trophy hunting. The introduction of firearms made it easier for hunters to target these majestic creatures, leading to a severe decline in their population.

By the late 1800s, Cape lions were considered locally extinct in the wild, and only a few individuals remained in captivity, mainly in zoos and private collections. These captive populations have served as the basis for breeding and reintroduction efforts, with the aim of preserving the genetic diversity of the subspecies.