Wildlife and environmental conservation is one of the most popular areas for volunteering abroad around the world. From working with endangered sea turtles in Central America to lions in Sub-Saharan Africa to elephants in Southeast Asia, there are a huge amount of conservation volunteer opportunities out there for compassionate volunteers who strive to preserve the world’s ecological diversity.
Human population expansion has caused the extinction of thousands of plant and animal species throughout history and continuously threatens the extinction of thousands more. All over the world non-profit organizations continuously place volunteers on the ground working rigorously to preserve indigenous biological populations. As a conservation volunteer abroad, you will have the opportunity to work closely with endangered plants and animals, ensuring the preservation and conservation of each specie’s future, in a rapidly changing world.
It is possible to find conservation volunteer work in most regions of the world, though the most popular areas tend to be in South and Central America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Oceania.
The mountains and rainforests of Central and South America comprise one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet; although, the ecosystems in these regions are consistently threatened due to deforestation and human expansion. Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico are all considered “mega-diverse” countries, meaning that each contains a significant amount of the diversity of the entire Earth’s population of species, so clearly these are great locations for conservation volunteering abroad.
The plains of Africa offer a much different setting for conservation volunteer work abroad. While countries such as South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo remain extremely biodiverse, many volunteer programs in these nations are directed toward preserving the habitats of the “big-five” game animals (lions, elephants, buffalos, leopards, and rhinos). These species are under constant threat because of hunting and poaching, so volunteers can work to protect these animals at game reserves wildlife centers throughout the region.
Southeast Asia and Oceania comprises another highly biodiverse region of the world. India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines are just some of the countries in this region where volunteers will find numerous conservation volunteer programs focused on preserving the ecosystems of a wide range of native plant and animals species.
The range of tasks you will be responsible for completing as a conservation volunteer abroad will vary by location and program type. Some examples of tasks and activities you might engage in within the realm of environmental conservation include tree planting, fencing, weed control, forest research, and seed collection. If you are working in wildlife conservation, on the other hand, you might be monitoring and tracking wild animals, maintaining habitats, patrolling beaches, or working closely in the care of animals at wildlife sanctuaries.
There are many conservation volunteer programs available, focused on very different elements of conservation, so you will have the opportunity to take your pick from a wide array of program options. Generally, volunteers live among other conservation volunteers in or near the habitat they work in.
Some conservation volunteer programs will be rooted in one project for the duration of the trip, while others will move around between various locations allowing volunteers to contribute to a variety of conservation projects.
Conservation volunteer programs tend to run year round, so volunteers will have the luxury of planning their own schedule. It is possible to become a conservation volunteer abroad for as short as a couple weeks, but equally as possible to spend a whole year volunteering abroad; who knows, you might even be inspired to move abroad permanently and make a career of conservation work!
Volunteering abroad in conservation is a way to give back and care for our planet while embarking on a one-of-a-kind adventure. Whether you are working with primate populations or reforesting jungles, in regions from Canada to Australia to Kenya, you are sure to have a tremendous developmental experience working as a conservation volunteer abroad. The entire planet is changing fast because of human activity, and by participating in conservation volunteering abroad you can do your part to protect threatened species all across the globe.