The Born Free Foundation regularly receives requests from the general public for information on volunteering opportunities overseas. Wherever possible, we encourage the employment of people native to the region in which we are working, as conservation stands a far better chance of becoming fully supported by communities if local people are direct ‘stakeholders’.
At the same time, international volunteers are an invaluable asset to wildlife conservation and we want to encourage people with the desire and motivation to make a difference. However, before you make a choice on where to go, take a look at our guidance notes below:
So, you want to volunteer to work with wild animals?
A quick internet search will demonstrate the vast number of volunteering schemes offering the opportunity to work with wild animals.
The Born Free Foundation has serious reservations about many projects which claim to deliver conservation benefits, believing that in some cases not only is the opposite true but that there are also negative welfare implications for the individual animals involved. Read more here >
Listed below are volunteer schemes offered by projects which the Born Free Foundation supports and which we believe deliver positive conservation and animal welfare benefits:
Supported by Born Free, this rescue and rehabilitation project North of Kafue National Park works towards the release of vervet monkeys and yellow baboons back into the wild and offers volunteer opportunities of varying lengths of stay. Please contact Cheryl Mvula (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details. To read more about the work being done by this project, please visit the Zambian Primate Project page.
Three-week to three-month opportunities are available for enthusiastic individuals who would like to help a new, exciting project in the heart of Malawi. The Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is being developed to care for the country's orphaned and injured animals; the mission being to return them to the wild wherever possible. The facility offers a unique opportunity for Malawians and international visitors to better understand and appreciate wildlife conservation, animal rehabilitation and the threats that the country’s wildlife faces and what they can do to conserve it. See the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre page for more details about the work being done by this project.
Volunteers can chose from a variety of tasks working alongside their Malawian counterparts, including feeding, cleaning, enrichment, veterinary care, research, fundraising and education. A recently developed programme also offers opportunities for volunteers to join a community outreach team that will be taking environmental, health and conservation education into rural schools and communities. The programme shall also provide veterinary care for rural community domestic animals and animal welfare education. All volunteer contributions go directly to feeding and caring for the animals.
In partnership with Land and Lake Safaris (www.landlake.net), the Wildlife Centre is able to offer its volunteers very special rates to one of Africa's finest National Parks, South Luangwa National Park (Zambia) and opportunities to dive on Lake Malawi; prices that will make your financial contribution to the project even more worthwhile. For more information visit Lilongwe Wildlife Centre's website, or to apply please contact the project directly.
Anyone interested in working at Shamwari Wildlife Reserve South Africa (home to Born Free’s Big Cat Rescue Centres) should contact Worldwide Experience (www.worldwideexperience.com), an independent travel operator, for more details.
Should you decide to volunteer with a project, we would urge you to seek professional advice regarding health matters as well as travel recommendations relating to the country and area concerned well in advance of travelling, make adequate insurance arrangements and take all sufficient precautions regarding your proposed stay. A good place to start would be the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.
Disclaimer: All arrangements for volunteers working with these projects will be between the individual volunteer and the project concerned and not with the Born Free Foundation. For this reason Born Free accepts no liability for any loss, harm or injury of any sort arising from, or in connection with, participation in the volunteer activity.
*Formerly Lunga Luswishi Wildlife Project