Ask the Experts: Where Should I Volunteer with Animals?

Our super Travel Experts Amy and Claire are here again this week to help another, slightly perplexed, blog reader out with their most head scratching travel question.

This week Abbie from Taunton has sent us this message asking for help choosing which amazing volunteering with animals experience our Experts would reccommend…

Hi Experts, I’m really interested in volunteering, I’m not leaning towards any particular country, all I know is that I’d love to work with animals but there are so many options! What would you do and why? Abbie, Taunton

If you’ve got a question for the Experts send it over now and we’ll pitch it to them as soon as we can to help you get things straight. But for now let’s see what advice Amy and Claire have up their sleeve for Abbie…

Claire Whittington from STA Travel Brighton says…

Abbie, it has to be working with orang-utans if you want the ultimate wildlife volunteer project! We offer two different kinds of volunteer projects so I have two great options for you.

Firstly there is the “Experience Borneo and Conserve Orang-utans” which is a ‘voluntour’ meaning you get to travel around Borneo taking in all the highlights from boat trips through the mangroves to rainforest treks and visits to indigenous tribes and you also spend a few days of the trip volunteering at a Wildlife Centre in Kubah National Park. These trips are great if you want to see more of a country but also give something back.

However it sounds like our pure volunteering projects may be for you and the “Work with endangered Orang-utans” might just be perfect. You can choose to spend 2 or 4 weeks staying in a jungle chalet with other volunteers whilst helping the conservation team increase the orang-utan population in Borneo by helping one of our closest animal relations live independently. You will have a range of responsibilities from helping prepare food for the animals, cleaning and maintaining the enclosures to trips into the jungle with rehabilitation officers to help monitor the release of these awesome creatures back into the wild.

You will also help with the enrichment programme which is about improving orang-utans’ surroundings to stimulate their physical and mental health, therefore increasing their chance of survival when released into the wild. You might be building swings, hammocks or installing ropes for the orang-utans to play on or working on the food enrichment programme. You also have free time which can be spent visiting local markets and communities, taking walks through the national parks or just relaxing with the other volunteers sharing your orang-utan stories!

Amy Pearson from STA Travel Leeds Vicar Lane says…

Hi Abbie, there are plenty of volunteering projects around the world that involve working with a variety of animals. We have projects ranging from 3 months to a week, so you have lots of choice. One of our most popular projects is a 1-2 week long stay at an elephant conservation camp in Chang Mai, northern Thailand. Here you will be expected to help provide shelter and protection for elephants in distress. There are around 30 elephants at any one time living in the camp and you will be involved in day to day care for the animals. You will have the opportunity to prepare there meals, bathe, and generally learn as much about the creatures as possible, whether it be from a medical perspective or a social one.

All your meals and accommodation are also included and a percent of the money you spend goes back into supporting the organisation. If you really love your peaceful tranquil time living in the park amongst the elephants in rural Thailand then you are also able to extend your stay. A 1-2 week project like this is perfect if you want to coincide with a big trip through Southeast Asia but if your looking for something more full on and long term then Camp Kenya is perfect for you.

Camp Kenya is a 3-month project (you can also stay for less time if you wish), that involves working in 3 separate areas in Mombasa. Firstly you will work for two weeks in Camp Muhaka along with other volunteers from around the world to improve living conditions for a local village living below the poverty line in rural Kenya. Tasks will include building new homes for elderly, constructing water tanks, improving classrooms and also building relationships with the local community. If you stay two months or longer you will experience camp Makongeni and a marine conservation plus a stay in a local sacred forest. This kind of project would make a lasting impact on your life and also the communities you are helping.

Thanks for your help, Claire! If you’ve got a question for the Experts drop us an email and the answer will be waiting for you here on the blog very soon.