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 can be negative welfare implications for the individual animals involved - Born Free’s guidance notes.
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:
Established and supported by Born Free, the GRI - Zambia Primate Project (ZPP) is one of Africa’s most established and successful primate release programmes. Its mission is to rescue and rehabilitate injured, orphaned and illegally held vervet monkeys and yellow baboons for release back to the wild. Volunteering opportunities of 1, 2 and 3 months are available in Zambia.
Volunteers will have the opportunity to play an active role in contributing to the successful running of the rehabilitation and release aspects of the project. Please note that this is a working conservation project so you will need to come prepared to roll up your sleeves and get involved with whatever activities the project is tasked with at the time of your visit. We offer volunteer opportunities at both the wildlife rehabilitation centre and out of our release camp deep in the bush.
To join our field team releasing and monitoring our rescued baboons and monkeys in Kafue National Park, or to assist with primate care and pre-release preparations at the rehabilitation centre please contact ZPP's Senior Technical Advisor Dr Cheryl Mvula on firstname.lastname@example.org for further details and costs.
Malawi is a great country for volunteers who are looking to help wildlife. Known as the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’ for its friendly people, stunning scenery and safe reputation, the country is also facing a wildlife crisis. Habitats are disappearing, wild animals are losing their homes and human-wildlife conflict is increasing. Lilongwe Wildlife Trust is Malawi’s leading wildlife welfare and conservation charity and there are volunteer opportunities available on a number of its projects.
The Shamwari Conservation Experience offers the unique opportunity to take part in volunteer placements from 2 weeks to over 3 months and can include many different activities, based on the needs of the reserve at the time, such as monitoring projects which assist in capturing vital information used in the research and management of all species on the reserve. Volunteers are also able to visit and get involved in the work of the Born Free Foundation and Shamwari Animal Rehabilitation Centres during their time with the team.
Anyone interested in working at Shamwari Wildlife Reserve should contact Worldwide Experience , an independent travel operator, for more details. If you quote ‘Born Free’ at all stages of booking, Worldwide Experience will make a donation to Born Free at no extra cost to you.
Unfortunately at the current time we are unable to offer overseas volunteer opportunities in either Kenya or Sri Lanka but would be more than happy to help review any potential opportunities that you may be interested in.
Should you decide to volunteer with any of these projects, 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.
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.