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Wildlife Conservation Volunteering

Wildlife conservation volunteering is the perfect conservation opportunity to protect endangered species from extinction...

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Wildlife Conservation Volunteering

Humans have always been fascinated by the wildlife on our planet. And whilst many people would consider themselves animal lovers, most wildlife species today are threatened by humans in one way or another. The drastic decline of animals like elephants, tigers, or orangutans is starting to raise more and more awareness for the conservation of our earth's wildlife and it is time that we actively intervene. If you don't want to stand at the side and watch your favorite animals become extinct in the near future, take action and become a wildlife conservation volunteer.

🦏 What Are the Biggest Threats to Wildlife?

Sadly, most of the wildlife that roams our continents is in some form affected by us humans. There are many different threats that wildlife species are facing. The population numbers are shrinking due to slow reproduction rates, their habitats disappearing, or being hunted because they are a "valuable" trading good or considered harmful when living too close to human populations. While we keep actively changing the world around us, we simultaneously destroy the habitat of the wildlife around us through:

  • deforestation
  • pollution
  • the exploitation of natural resources
  • growing cities and settlements

The problem of disappearing animal species and dramatically shrinking populations has been recognized by the public, but laws that enforce the protection of wildlife habitat, the decrease in emissions and pollution to stop climate change are only showing slow progress. Natural resources are still stolen from nature, and overall biodiversity decreases.

Researchers have come to the shocking result that the global wildlife populations have fallen 58% in the last 40 years. For many species, the wake-up call came too late and they are practically extinct in the wild. One very sad example is the northern white rhino, that has been poached for its horn for decades and that currently has one single male individual left in the wild. That’s what underlines the importance of wildlife conservation.

🐘 How Can I Protect Endangered Wildlife?

The projects you can join as a wildlife conservation volunteer or on a wildlife internship are as varied and diverse as the wildlife on our planet. You can do more hands-on work at a wildlife rescue center or sanctuary or you can engage in research-oriented work. Also, the importance of protecting fauna and their habitat is rising steadily.

No matter where your interest lies or what skills you bring to the table, there certainly is the right project for everybody that wishes to become an animal conservation volunteer. Raising awareness among locals and tourists is a very important part of protecting wildlife. The more people that are on the same page and are willing!

🦒 How to Protect African Wildlife

For many people, the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the term “wildlife” is African wildlife. A safari in South Africa or Kenya is on many people's bucket lists. The variety of wildlife species you will find in the savannahs, plains, mountains, and tropical rainforests of Africa is endless. However, most of their populations are declining drastically and need to be protected by governments and passionate volunteers.

The Big 5

Some of the African animals that first come to mind are the Big Five , which do not get their name from their body size but sadly from an old hunting expression for the five most difficult animals to hunt on foot. They include the elephant, the rhinoceros, the lion, the leopard and the Cape buffalo. And sadly, all of these wildlife species are still being hunted in Africa today.

Trophy hunting is a big sport in countries like South Africa and rich tourists from all over the world come to “hunt” lions, leopards, and other wildlife in Africa simply for fun and of course to take their "trophies" home to display them. This disgusting practice in Africa has favored a whole industry of canned hunting where especially lions are bred to be shot by hunters. The animals are often semi-wild and thus have no fear of humans which makes them a much easier target.

The Gorilla

Another creature you could be volunteering and working with as a wildlife volunteer in Africa is the mountain gorilla that lives in the forests of Uganda and Rwanda. It is one of the most critically endangered wildlife species with only a few hundreds of individuals left in the wild. Support the animal conservation programs on-site in their research and raise your voice to protect their shrinking habitat from further deforestation for commercial use.

Wildlife Sanctuaries

Volunteers can help to raise awareness of these cruel practices by volunteering and working at one of many sanctuaries for lions and other big cats that have been saved from canned hunting facilities. They can also work at one of the breeding centers that work on safeguarding the gene pool size and genetic exchange of endangered species which is vital for their survival in the long-term.

Wildlife Conservation Work

If you are more of an outdoorsy person and you want to see the animals in their natural habitat, there are wildlife conservation volunteer opportunities and research projects that observe the different population groups, movements, and behavior of animals such as:

🐨 How to Protect Wildlife in Australia

Australia is a vast continent full of diversity - white beaches, rainforests, endless roads, and the great ocean surrounding it. Thus it is home to some of the most magnificent and unique wildlife on Earth. 86% of the native mammals have evolved in this geographical isolation and are found nowhere else. Unfortunately, many unique Australian animals are classified as endangered such as the koala or the Tasmanian devil. 29 Australian mammals have become extinct since European settlers arrived in 1788.

The numbers of endangered wildlife in Australia are immense: about 1700 animal and plant species are listed as threatened, and another 90 are considered extinct under the Australian Government's Environment Protection and Diversity Conservation Act. Some of the biggest threats they're facing are:

  • inappropriate fire management
  • illegal hunting for trade
  • habitat degradation through tree-clearing
  • introduced predators such as foxes and feral cats
  • damaged ecosystems through global warming

As a wildlife volunteer abroad for endangered animal conservation in Australia, you will have many different tasks as volunteers are involved in every part of the conservation work. They help to clean and maintain the rehabilitation facilities for injured and rescued animals. A big part of animal conservation volunteering is also to educate the tourists and the locals on the importance of animal conservation and giving educational classes on the topic. Other volunteering tasks at a conservation project you can expect are:

  • animal husbandry
  • food preparations
  • enclosure maintenance
  • taking care of the animal's needs
  • participating in fundraising events
  • community education activities

🐘 How to Save Elephants in Thailand

Africa isn't the only place where you get to do conservation volunteer work with elephants. The Asian elephants are in dire need of protection, too. As most Asian elephants do not have tusks, to begin with, poaching does still remain an issue but it is actually not the biggest threat the elephants are facing.

Habitat Loss

The quick growth of human populations in South Asia causes the elephant's habitat to shrink more and more which leads to increasing numbers of human-elephant conflicts. The result is most often the illegal killing of elephants that come too close to the villages and feed on the crops. Many elephants are also captured from the wild for commercial purposes like logging, illegal wildlife trade and - most famously - the tourism industry .

Tourism

We all know the pictures of tourists riding elephants during their holiday in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, but many people do not know how much harm their "holiday fun" actually causes. Elephants are captured as babies and undergo extremely violent and cruel practices to be “tamed”, practices that many of them don't survive in the first place. The constant physical and psychological torture of being used for elephant rides leaves most elephants ill and traumatized.

Elephant Sanctuaries in Thailand

Many sanctuaries in Thailand are dedicated to saving elephants from such places and give them a safe haven where they can spend the remainder of their days in peace. And of course, the help of volunteers is very much needed her, too. The sanctuaries often welcome tourists to observe the elephants and walk with them to teach them about the gentle giants and the harm that elephant riding causes. Volunteers in animal conservation can work at the sanctuaries to support these efforts by:

  • cleaning the enclosures
  • feeding and washing the elephants
  • guiding tourists through the sanctuary
  • observing elephant behavior for research purposes
  • educating locals and tourists about elephant riding

Stopping the elephant riding and elephant tourism altogether is important to conserve the Asian elephant population in the long run. With the booming tourism industry, 30% of all Asian elephants live in captivity which means that the gene pool of the wild populations is drastically shrinking. This can lead to inbreeding and thus smaller chances of survival altogether.

🦥 How to Protect Wildlife in Latin America

If you have always been fascinated by rainforests and the abundance of animal species they are home to, you have to volunteer in Central or South America. It is estimated that 50% of terrestrial biodiversity is found in rainforests and South America hosts the biggest rainforest in the world, the Amazon rainforest. Unfortunately, not even this unique place is safe from destruction through the hands of humans. Illegal deforestation through the logging and palm oil industries are a big threat to the species inhabiting the rainforests.

As a wildlife volunteer in Latin America or an intern, there are many ways to save and protect the wildlife that lives in the rainforests of Central and South America. You can work in a sanctuary that takes care of animals that have been injured in deforestation activities or through poachers. The illegal pet trade is another big threat for many primates, sloths, bird species, and big cats. Those that have been rescued live at a rehabilitation center until they can be released back into the wild, which is a very exciting moment to witness as a volunteer.

Unfortunately, some animals will have to stay in a sanctuary for the rest of their lives as their injuries or past as an illegal pet left them unable to survive in the wild. Wildlife volunteer opportunities help to take care of these and take part in different tasks like:

  • cleaning and maintaining the enclosures
  • feeding the animals
  • creating enriching activities
  • conducting regular check-ups of the animals
  • assisting in veterinary treatments
  • giving visitors tours of the sanctuary

👩🏽‍🎓 How to Do a Wildlife Internship

Students excited about volunteering abroad can integrate this valuable experience into their studies by gaining study credits. There are several international projects to choose from that will give you meaningful practical experience. Rest assured that work experience abroad will positively benefit your chances of finding future job opportunities. To do a life-changing internship abroad, it’s important that your university approves.

Wildlife internship projects can be extremely useful for students studying geography, biology, or veterinary medicine but we’re convinced any field of study will benefit from this unique experience. We suggest you take a look at the different wildlife conservation projects that may correspond with your studies and get in touch with your university to see if it can count as an internship and you can earn study credits.

🌍 Best Places to Volunteer for Wildlife Conservation

As you will have noticed by now, there are endless possibilities for you with wildlife volunteering abroad. No matter what kind of animals you're interested in and where you would like to travel, there are volunteer projects that are just right for you and that are very looking forward to welcoming you.

Africa

If you want to experience African wildlife from up close, you should look at South Africa, Kenya, or Namibia for your volunteer projects. Not only do they offer a great amount of wildlife on land, but some of them are also home to a great marine life. The best examples of that are South Africa, Tanzania, or Mozambique.

Latin America

If you are interested in volunteering with primates and other jungle habitats, look no further than Central and South America. Peru, Brazil and Ecuador all share parts of the Amazon rainforest which hosts various monkey and sloth species as well as countless birds, big cats, and many many more. Costa Rica has its fair share of jungles too and at the same time is the nesting site for four of the seven sea turtle species, which makes it a great destination for wildlife conservation volunteers. If you’re interested in sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica, head over to our sea turtle conservation page.

Asia

Have you always wanted to travel to Asia? Go to Indonesia and protect the endangered orangutans from becoming extinct. Or why not visit Sri Lanka and work with one of Asia's biggest elephant populations and some of the most endangered sea turtles? Go to the tourist hotspot Thailand and help to stop elephant riding for good, or visit China and volunteer for the endangered giant panda.

Australia

Australia, a.k.a the “land down under” has a lot of fascinating wildlife that is worth protecting as well. As a trip to Australia is on so many people's bucket lists anyway, why not combine it with some volunteer work?

To give you an idea of all the destinations you can go to as a wildlife conservation volunteer, check out this map:

🧐 Who Can Volunteer for Wildlife Conservation?

Wildlife volunteering abroad is a great opportunity for everyone who loves animals and wants to give something back to them. It doesn’t matter if you have any experience through having worked with wildlife before, as long as you are willing to learn and treat the wild creatures with the necessary respect and caution you are more than welcome to volunteer.

As the main language spoken at most projects abroad is English it is necessary for you to speak at least basic English in order to communicate with your project coordinators and fellow volunteers. Some projects in Latin America will ask you to speak basic Spanish.

Working with animals abroad during your travels or your annual holidays can be a great way to change up your daily routine and you can also bring your friends or family if you like.

Many volunteer projects like sea turtle rescue programs are happy to welcome families with younger children and it is a great way to teach kids about the importance of wildlife conservation and the protection of their surroundings. They will learn a lot about the animals, correct animal handling and the responsibilities that humans have concerning them, be it caring for a pet at home or taking action to protect animals in the wild.

🔞 Can I Volunteer for Wildlife Conservation Under 18?

Volunteer projects working with wild and more dangerous animals accept volunteers from the age of 18 but there is no age limit upwards - as long as you are physically fit and ready for a challenge you are the perfect candidate to volunteer.

However, there are also a lot of animal sanctuaries that work with less dangerous species accepting international volunteers who are under 18 years old. You can find the specific requirements for each project in their profile on Volunteer World.

🤑 Can I Volunteer for Wildlife Conservation for Free?

Most volunteer programs require a fee to be paid by the volunteer. This is used to cover your accommodation and in some cases, support the organization. You can also use the filter on our platform to search for wildlife volunteering abroad opportunities within your budget. Our live chat team is happy to assist you with this!

🎁 5 Benefits of Volunteering Abroad for Wildlife

There are many benefits of volunteering for wildlife conservation, not only for the wildlife you are helping to protect but also for yourself. Also, the importance of wildlife conservation programs needs to become ore public. Whilst some of them may seem obvious, there are some that you probably haven’t thought of before:

1. Contribute Towards Something Greater

Doing volunteer work for a cause that you are passionate about and seeing the fruit of your work feels great. Knowing you’ve contributed to something on a greater scale will trump that. Research has proven over and over again that the feeling of contribution is one of the greatest happiness inducers. Are you ready to make a difference and feel great?

2. Raise Awareness

The conservation work that is done on-site is one very important part of protecting endangered animal species, but another important part is raise local and global awareness of the problem. Many people are not aware that the products they use in their daily lives come from unsustainable productions that threaten the habitat of lots of animals. By reaching out to friends and families and using social media you can educate others on the volunteer work you did and the steps that everyone can take to protect wildlife, even if they are not able to volunteer their time themselves.

3. Make New Friends

When you go abroad to work as a wildlife volunteer you will meet a lot of different people from all over the world that share your passion for animals. This common interest and the time you will spend working together will connect you long beyond your volunteering time abroad. This is also a great opportunity to connect with the locals.

4. Live Like a Local

Volunteers for wildlife will be working in close contact with locals, so take the chance to encourage cultural exchange. You will get a lot of information about cultural habits which will help you to the country and culture you are working in. This will broaden your horizon and be a great way to find new friends at the same time.

5. Boost Your Career

Wildlife internships, especially with endangered wildlife, will give you the chance to try out your dream career without making a long-term commitment.

Gain knowledge about scientific research methods, zoology, or veterinary medicine. If you already have certain skills in these areas, you can easily extend them and gain new experiences that will look great on your CV as well. Some of the jobs where they will come in handy are:

  • veterinarian
  • veterinary assistant
  • zookeeper
  • biologist
  • zoologist
  • pet trainer
  • wildlife rehabilitator

☝🏽 How to Volunteer for Wildlife Conservation

So you’re ready for your wildlife volunteer opportunity abroad but you’re not quite sure how to get started? Take a look at the following 3 steps that will prepare you for your wildlife conservation volunteer program abroad and an unforgettable adventure:

  • Check whether there’s a match between you and the project by looking at their requirements.
  • Take a look at the location of the project and decide whether it would be a location you are excited about.
  • Get in touch with the organization and see whether your expectations and your schedule match up.

Once this is sorted. Let’s take a look at the practical steps:

Insurance (Health & Travel)

We recommend getting both health and travel insurance. In fact, this is even a requirement for most programs abroad. Get in touch with your program contact person to find out if an insurance plan is already in place for volunteers.

Visa, Passport, and Documentation

Once you know your destination, take the following 3 steps before setting off on your life-changing adventure!

  • Look into the visa requirements for the country you will volunteer in.
  • Make sure you have a valid passport considering the requirement of the host country.
  • Prepare the correct documents to fulfill the visa application.

That’s it! You’re ready for wildlife conservation volunteering can start organizing your unique travel and volunteer adventure. Our live chat team is here to help you find the perfect wildlife conservation volunteer opportunity!