Volunteer for Wildlife
Most volunteer with wildlife programs focus on the safeguarding and protection of animals that are under severe threat due to the illegal wildlife trade, poaching, pollution or habitat destruction. Volunteers are needed to work with animals at wildlife sanctuaries or rehabilitation centers around the world, while at the same time conduct important research through data collection and surveying or even helping to educate indigenous communities about animal rights.
When you volunteer with animals abroad, you get the chance to interact with wildlife in their natural habitats - allowing you to experience, first hand, the importance of conserving these regions while simultaneously helping to prevent the current decline in certain animal populations.
The African continent is home to a large amount of indigenous - and unfortunately endangered species. These include the majestic African elephant and rhino’s as well as the regal African lion - to name only three. Due to the increased international demand for ivory and the illegal hunting and trade of wild animals, numbers of these magnificent animals continue to drop. Animal sanctuaries throughout the country are playing a vital role in the protection of these endangered animals.
The iconic Amazon Rainforest is home to almost 12 percent of the planet’s species. Located in the heart of South America, this magical location and all its inhabitants are currently under threat due to increased deforestation. Rescue centers scattered throughout the country provide sanctuary to a variety of the animals who have lost their homes and volunteers are always needed to help provide care for them while also educating the local communiti
Parts of the Southeast Asian landscape is also suffering at the hands of humans looking for land and financial gain. The logging and palm oil industries, among others, are responsible for the destruction of countless homes of the indigenous animals of the region. Rehabilitation centers are becoming more and more important in the rescue and rehabilitation of the animals from the region and volunteers are often the glue that holds them together - helping with everything from preparing food and providing love and attention for animals such as Orangutans. read more close
I saw rhinos and cave paintings and had the chance to visit a village, where I met an 82-year-old chief that told me the tale of fighting a leopard that was eating his livestock. His stories were incredible and followed shortly by a dance performance by the children of the village. I could not write about this day with enough detail to do it justice, but believe me when I say it was one of the most memorable days of my life!
Our day started at 7am with making our own breakfast. We would meet with all the staff at 8 for the day’s work which would continue until 4 or 5. We were assigned different jobs with different staff and animals every day. We had baby monkeys which were so cute, but bratty; we took turns bottle feeding and playing with them as well as a little dyker and springbok.
I couldn’t wait to witness the lucky little fella be released at the end of the week. It was so exciting, knowing that one of the turtles that had been in our care was soon going to start his life in the "big blue." I couldn’t hide my anticipation, regardless of the fact that we release a turtle (or two), every week.
Our time at turtle camp was capped off by releasing two of ‘our’ turtles into the sea to begin their journey as independent turtles! Hopefully, the love and care provided at the turtle project will ensure these turtles have a greater chance of survival in the big, wide, scary ocean. Go well, little turtle!
I really enjoyed my time at the park as I was able to interact with so many different animals, and also felt like I was contributing to the many initiatives that they have going on. I also liked being a bit further away from Sydney, exploring different parts of the country, that were a little less touristy.
When the time came to say goodbye, I realized that 2 weeks were definitely not enough to explore everything that this place has to offer. I loved every minute of it – the warmness of the sun, the peacefulness of the desert and of the animals, the kindness of the people I have met, the wonderful mix of sights, tastes and sounds and all kinds of experiences that were sometimes challenging and sometimes comforting. I would like to thank Go Eco, my fellow volunteers and everyone at the reserve for making this a one in a lifetime experience for me.
Working at the wildlife center has the perfect balance of being active and relaxing, and even many of the volunteer tasks have a very noticeable rhythm and method. It was so easy for me to adapt for this reason, and my volunteer hours gave me so much time to reflect on my experiences while simultaneously helping a small ecosystem.
My second day on the island is when I got to meet and start working with the turtles – which was great! Our main tasks were emptying and refilling the tanks and feeding and numbering the turtles, but once we also had to measure and weigh all of the turtles too. Once a week we also had to scrub all of the tanks to keep them clean which takes a whole day!
Feeding the pandas was an unforgettable experience. The pandas would rush to the entrance of the cage and lumber up to the front. My favorite panda, Susan, would hold a bar for support as she ate. They were so receptive and excited to get their special panda bread and carrots, relishing every bite.
After becoming acquainted with our panda keeper and pandas, we started our first job. It was necessary to clean the cage, removing the bamboo leaves and other garbage. After that, we started to clean their enclosures... In addition, we fed the pandas twice a day with carrot and special bread (named ”panda cake”), and sometimes apples.
I enjoyed ranger days the most. On these days you were paired with a ranger and got to do everything they did. This included feeding, cleaning, and in some cases even treating the animals. There were so many animals at the park that it was so much to see every day. My favorite part was getting to know each animal and their story. Every animal at the park has a name and is looked after carefully. It was great because you weren’t just standing behind a fence looking at the animal you were in the enclosure handling and helping.
The first three days of the program took place in Sydney, as our coordinator showed the volunteers around Sydney and filled us in on the history and customs in Australia. Along our tour we visited the Sydney Opera House, Botanical Gardens, a couple different museums and took a ferry ride to Darling Harbour.
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