Volunteer with animals worldwide for a rewarding holiday

Volunteering with elephants
Volunteering with African elephants (Image by flickrfavorites/Flickr)

The chance to volunteer to work with animals in crisis or rescue situations all over the world is a truly satisfying experience.

For animal lovers, volunteering with animals offers a chance to visit exotic and exciting locations worldwide. Various countries offer the opportunity of working with either domestic or wild animals in need. The following are some examples of the many animal volunteering programmes available right now.

1. Volunteer with elephants in Asia and Africa

Elephants, particularly in Asia, have often been forced into labour in the tourist or logging industry. Their training includes torturous practices to force the animals into submission, whether they have performed in circuses or carried tourists on elephant treks. There is an opportunity to volunteer with elephants in Asian rescue centres in Sri Lanka, Laos or Thailand. Alternatively, animal lovers can work with African elephants in Namibia and South Africa.

Volunteer with elephants
Volunteering with elephants (Image by Children’s Organization of Southeast Asia/Flickr)

These elephants have often never lived in the wild and have to stay in rehabilitation centres or sanctuaries to live out their lives in peace. Volunteer work includes feeding the animals and providing water, enrichment and other essentials needed for their comfortable survival.

There is also the opportunity to volunteer with elephants out in the wild, where they are becoming an endangered species. Elephants that damage the property of humans are often targeted for just that reason. The volunteering work involves working with the animals, helping them to live alongside humans to protect the wild elephants.

2. Volunteer with giant tortoises in the Seychelles

Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 beautiful islands, nestled off East Africa in the Indian Ocean. The islands have many beautiful beaches, nature reserves and coral reefs. The Seychelles are also home to the rare giant Aldabra tortoise. Opportunity exists to partake in a volunteering program on Curieuse Island to help monitor the large population of the giant tortoises on that island.

Aldabra giant tortoise
Aldabra giant tortoise in the Seychelles (Image by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen/Wikimedia Commons)

Work could include running an annual census of the tortoise population, counting the hatchlings and juvenile tortoises in the Aldabra tortoise nursery or measuring the tortoises’ carapaces (shells).

3. Endangered turtle programmes in Greece and Costa Rica

Head to Greece or Costa Rica to volunteer with endangered turtles. In Greece, you can discover the history of the warm, sunny country while living and working alongside international volunteers and staff members. Here a true contribution is being made to the conservation and protection of the loggerhead turtle nesting areas in Greece.

Loggerhead turtle
Loggerhed turtle swimming above a reef. (Image by ukanda/Wikimedia Commons)

You can head further afield and volunteer in Costa Rica in the Tortuguero National Park. Here you can work with the endangered green sea turtles, the critically endangered hawksbills and the vulnerable leatherback turtles. Volunteer work involves monitoring the beaches to spot the tracks and nests of mother turtles and helps to develop key research skills. All this, while surrounded by lush tropical jungles, crystal clear water and gorgeous sandy beaches!

Hawksbill turtle
Hawksbill turtle in Costa Rica (Image by DRVIP93/Wikimedia Commons)

Take time out for a volunteering holiday this year and experience exotic scenery while performing satisfying work with animals all over the world.