Animal welfare is a broad term that essentially means the well-being of animals. Animal volunteering abroad is great for individuals interested in veterinary medicine, zoology, or even for those with just a deep love for animals. Animal welfare programs overseas can vary greatly, but many programs are centered on preventing or minimizing illegal wildlife trade or habitat destruction due to environmental degradation. Volunteers are needed around the world to work with animals in wildlife sanctuaries or rehabilitation centers, conduct research, promote animal rights, or help educate communities.
Why Volunteer Abroad with Animals
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*Important: Here’s a list of 27 questions to ask before volunteering with animals abroad.
If you’re interested in volunteering abroad and have a passion for animals, animal volunteer programs abroad are a great choice for you! When you volunteer with animals abroad, you get the chance to interact with wildlife in their natural setting, which isn’t possible for many individuals at home.
Some organizations have estimated that the illegal wildlife trade makes almost $20 billion annually. In other cases, habitat destruction negatively affects the lives of animals. One example is the construction of palm oil plantations in some regions of Southeast Asia, which destroy the natural habitat of orangutans which are an endangered species. When you volunteer with animals abroad, you contribute to the current well-being of animals as well as their future existence.
While animal welfare is an area of concern all around the world, there are some regions where poaching and the illegal wildlife trade are causing massive declines in wild animal populations, which has led to a greater need for wildlife volunteer programs abroad in those areas.
Africa is seeing a major drop in its wildlife populations, and subsequently has a great need for animal volunteer programs. African elephants, rhinos, and lions are all endangered species due to both poaching and habitat loss. Wild game reserves have been set up to help protect the remaining populations, however, with the demand for ivory and other illegal animal trades, numbers are continuing to decline. Through animal volunteering in Africa, you will be able to get involved with animal sanctuaries or help educate local communities.
South America is known for the incredible Amazon Rainforest, where 10 percent of the world’s known species reside. However, deforestation threatens the plants and animals that call the rainforest home. Monkeys and birds are especially targeted. For instance, poachers kill the mothers and sell the baby monkeys on the black market, where the monkeys live out their days in tiny cages. Rescue centers are desperately in need of volunteers willing to help with both animal welfare and education.
Southeast Asia is another part of the world suffering from major deforestation. Industries like logging and palm oil plantations are devastating the habitats of countless animals. Poaching is also a problem in Southeast Asia. Many baby animals, such as orangutans, are left to die, taken in as pets, or rescued and sent to rehabilitation centers. Animal welfare volunteers are needed to help in rescue and rehabilitation centers with a variety of tasks.
Popular Ways to Volunteer with Animals
Since animal welfare programs are needed around the world, volunteer will find opportunities to help with a variety of tasks and initiatives. There is an animal volunteer program abroad catered to almost every volunteer’s interest. You might want to work as a volunteer who raises awareness by teaching in schools and working with local communities or work with animals who are housed in sanctuaries, reserves, and rescue centers. The most popular areas for animal volunteering abroad are further explained below:
Education programs focus on educating local communities about animal rights and welfare by discussing the detrimental effects of poaching and the illegal animal trade. Volunteers will be tasked with things like running workshops, organizing online campaigns, and teaching children in schools about animal protection.
Wildlife refuge programs offer volunteers the chance to work directly with animals in wildlife sanctuaries, rescue and rehabilitation centers, and nature and game reserves. Tasks include anything from cleaning to agricultural work to food preparation.
Construction is another component of animal volunteer programs abroad. Many wildlife refuges need help with construction projects, like building or fixing fences and enclosures, since these type of structures help keep both the animals and staff safe. Both skilled and unskilled volunteers are needed on these volunteer projects.
Animal volunteer programs can last anywhere from one week to six months, depending on the needs of the organization and the availability of volunteers. Experience is not always required as many volunteer programs will provide training. However, all volunteers should be animal lovers with a passion to learn more about animal protection and rehabilitation. Good physical fitness is also recommended.
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Wild animals around the world suffer from mistreatment, poaching, and loss of habitat every single day. Populations are dwindling and several species are considered to be critically endangered. Volunteering with animals abroad is a great way to help ensure the survival of the world’s magnificent creatures. Not only will you feel great knowing that you’re contributing to a worthy cause, but you’ll get to experience the animals you love up close in their most natural setting.