Join the world renowned Lilongwe Wildlife Centre as an animal care volunteer or as a member of the veterinary team if you are a veterinary student.
The Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is an award-winning wildlife sanctuary located in the heart of Malawi. It is currently the country's only wildlife sanctuary for orphaned and injured wild animals. The centre has around 200 wild animals, including monkeys, lions and antelope - all of whom have been rescued with the aim of releasing as many of these as possible back into the wild when they have been successfully rehabilitated.
This project offers two types of volunteering. The first is for wildlife conservation enthusiasts and offers the opportunity to assist the experienced animal care team in a number of different activities at the centre. These include caring for orphaned animals, assisting with integration observation, contributing to the local community initiatives and even some veterinary assistance.
The second is specifically for veterinary students whom have completed at least 1 year of veterinary school. If you are volunteering as a veterinary student, you will work alongside the on-site vet in all aspects of veterinarian care including incoming exams, minor trauma, health checks and routine diagnostics. As well as learning from experts in wildlife veterinary science you will also take part in other aspects of the centre including orphan care and rehabilitation.
This project really offers incredible opportunities for both those with a big passion for wildlife and those looking to increase and expand their veterinary knowledge.
What's more, the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre has won a number of awards for its work and achieved PAW accreditation from the Born Free Foundation in 2012. The support from volunteers is crucial to the work that this project carries out.
Please note that we take animal welfare very seriously and therefore the project has a strict no-animal-contact policy. The only exception to this is if you are hand-rearing an orphan or working with the vet.
Prior To Arrival
You will need to arrive into Lilongwe International Airport on the start date of your project where you will be met by a representative who will transfer you to the wildlife centre (a 25 minute drive). Kenya Airways, Ethiopia Airways and South African Airways all serve routes to Lilongwe with flights normally landing around 12am.
If you arrive early and the dates of your trip exceed the project length then we recommend you stay at Mubuya or Madidi Lodge.
Visas are not required by citizens of most Commonwealth countries, the USA, Japan, most European Union countries and certain other countries. If unsure, refer to your nearest Malawian Embassy, from which visas for any nationality can be obtained. For those nationalities that do require visas, these cannot be obtained on arrival but must be obtained in advance from any Malawi diplomatic mission around the world.
You will arrive into Africa's 'friendliest nation' via the Lilongwe International Airport, where you will then be met by a project representative. You will then transfer to the project site, which is a 25 minute drive away. Once you have settled in, you will be taken into town where you can buy anything you may need before enjoying a tour of the centre and meeting your fellow volunteers and some of the sanctuary's residents!
This project is extremely flexible so you will mostly be able to spend time on the activities of your choice, although we ask that all volunteers are flexible and able to step in if urgent tasks arise. Activities that you may take part in on a day to day basis include:
Orphan and animal care
Work alongside local animal carers with cleaning, feeding, hand-rearing baby orphans and providing enrichment to those that need it.
There is a lot for you to choose from already, but as a veterinary student you will also have the fantastic opportunity to work alongside the on-site veterinarian, assisting with all aspects of veterinary care including minor trauma, routine diagnostics, vaccinations and conducting full health checks on all new arrivals.
Rehabilitation and release
Join our dedicated animal care manager to rehabilitate rescued animals and settle them into new groups. These animals need to be fed and cared for, as well as monitored to collect data, which is essential to their safe release. Some volunteers at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre may have the opportunity of helping with a release; however, this is dependent on whether any are scheduled to take place when you are at the centre.
Helping with construction and the maintenance of the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, is vital so that rescued animals can always be accepted. This, therefore, may be something you are involved in when on the project and can include anything from enclosure repair to physical building work and even painting.
Education and community outreach
This is a big part of the project and involves various different aspects including assisting with guided tours for local people to help educate on the importance of wildlife conservation and also working alongside the community outreach manager to visit local communities and help with existing outreach projects such as the ‘Learning Through Wildlife’ adult-literacy programme, and Malambe Juice Co-operative.
For those interested in conservation management, there are several ecological surveys, mammal censuses and an important afforestation project which always require volunteer support for wider wildlife conservation in Malawi. This offers a whole new side of the project which you can get involved in.
Working hours are 8 am to 5 pm, 6 days a week with a long weekend off every 4 weeks.
On your final day you will return to Lilongwe airport for your return flight or continue with any independent travel plans.
You get one day off each week. These can be spent relaxing at the Centre, exploring the city or visiting one of the city hotels to chill by the pool.
Those staying 4 weeks or more have a 3 day long weekend off which are perfect for a safari to the beautiful South Luangwa National Park in Zambia or a trip to Lake Malawi.
You will be collected from the airport upon your arrival in Malawi and you will be taken back on the last day of your project. The drive is about 25 minutes long.