Choosing to work as a volunteer with wildlife has a clear benefit to your travels abroad since it will give you the incredible opportunity to mix travel with a worthwhile cause you believe in. Working with wildlife in their natural habitat isn’t just incredibly rewarding, it's also an incredibly important cause to the world we live in. The illegal wildlife trade industry, making billions annually, drives species to near extinction (a whopping increase of 7700% in Rhino poaching in South Africa alone in 6 years!). More than that, threats relating to our ‘ecological footprint’ such as deforestation, climate change effects, infrastructure, bycatch, overfishing, and pollution are just a few of the causes that contribute to the destruction of many natural habitats. There’s plenty to do - and when coupled with the right organization, how you choose to act can have a tremendous impact.
Organizations around the world offer tremendous amounts of programs and projects for enthusiastic volunteers who are looking to improve the lives of many endangered animals, so you can choose the organization and the cause that matches your skills and interests most. You can work in wildlife sanctuaries, conduct research, develop facilities, work in rehabilitation centers, promote animal rights in different places, or get involved with education in communities.
While volunteering abroad with animals can be an incredible experience for all animal lovers out there, it can also be a great choice if you’re interested in practicing veterinary, hydrology, oceanography, biology, or zoology in your future. Many organizations use innovative approaches and methods as part of their ongoing work, so with the right groundwork and matching between your interests and field of work/research on a given organization - you can have a fantastic starting point to your career.
As we’ve mentioned, wildlife conservation in particular, and volunteering with animals in general is also an amazing way to approach a travel experience: just imagine working with elephants in Thailand, big cats in Bolivia, Pandas in China, or Rhinos in South Africa. Each region faces different challenges, and organizations are often working around local issues - from deforestation to wildlife trade. Start by researching the area and choosing where it is you’re interested in travel too. Once you have that figured out - finding the organization for you is within reach. So, are you ready for an adventure?