Volunteering to work abroad during your holidays is a great change of pace for travellers who want to take a break from the commercialism of typical holiday travel. In our previous post, we talked about volunteer opportunities working with children. Now we would like to take the thought one-step further – working with animals.
Just as with the many organisations looking for volunteers to help children in need, there are government agencies, scientific organisations, and animal preservation groups that are always quick to welcome the assistance of volunteers. We will look at some of those opportunities here. Please note however, that some organisations require at least minimal education or experience working with animals. Work environments can be dangerous at times, for both volunteers and the animals.
Diving: Reef Conservation in Thailand
Thailand has some of the most spectacular coral reefs in the world. Unfortunately, many of the world's reefs are in crisis at the present time. And if reefs fail, it would have a devastating impact on local marine ecosystems. There are opportunities to visit Thailand as a volunteer helping to preserve the nation's coral reefs. This is a great option for combining your love of diving with your desire to help preserve one of the world's most important natural resources.
Elephants: Conservation in Africa and India
We tend to take elephants for granted in the Western world because we can readily see these animals at any major the zoo. Yet in many parts of Africa and India, elephants are a threatened species. Namibia is just one African country in which elephant preservation efforts are well under way. However, there is an added element in this mostly desert country: volunteers are also working to protect their precious waterways from the damage caused by elephants. It is a tremendous balancing act and one well worth volunteering for.
Bears: Romanian Bear Sanctuary Needs You
For an entirely different kind of volunteer opportunity, you might be interested in volunteering at Europe's largest bear sanctuary just outside of Brasov, Romania. The sanctuary specialises in rescuing bears that may have been mistreated by hotel owners, circuses or even private property owners who have dared to keep them as pets. Bears have had a tough time in Romania for decades; the bear sanctuary aims to change that.
There are so many opportunities to volunteer with animals that it is not possible to list them all here. You could work with turtles in Costa Rica, lions in South Africa, and orang-utans in Borneo. For educational purposes, there are a number of programmes offering veterinary internships to those who want to combine volunteer work with an opportunity to gain some practical experience prior to graduation.
Just as we mentioned in our previous post, the one caution here is that you fully investigate any programme or organisation you intend to sign on with. Make sure you know exactly what you are getting into, what will be expected of you, and all the associated costs.