Have you ever daydreamed about being with animals or helping out in one way or the other, to contribute to their wellbeing?
Are you in search of interesting and engaging activities to be involved in during your next vacation or break?
Then most likely, taking a volunteering role with animals in Africa would be an answer to your long-time dream.
You may ask, why Africa? Well, Africa is the home of many iconic animals of interest. Southern Africa is said to be the home of the Big Five, which refer to Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Buffalos, and Rhinos.
These big animals are huge sources of tourism attraction and as a result, volunteering with organizations to keep them alive and from going extinct would be a remarkable work, that would count for years to come.
Harvard University estimated that approximately 30,000 species per year, and in about three per hour are being driven to extinction.
Also, according to African Conservancy Reports, approximately 80% of the decline in global biological diversity is caused by habitat destruction.
These staggering statistics call for help, and volunteering with animals would go a long way, in curbing these problems.
Wildlife Conservation Volunteering Programs in Africa offer and a variety of ways, through which you can contribute your quota to keeping the wildlife conservation safe and from going extinct.
Is it safe to Volunteer in Africa?
Absolutely yes! It is very safe to volunteer in Africa, without encountering any mishap, just like in any other continent of the world.
Some of the aired news about the African continent has created a feeling of fear, whenever the name “Africa” is mentioned. However, it would please you to know that Africa is a place where you can be safe as a volunteer.
Africa houses 54 countries, which have their diverse and distinct cultural practices, customs, norms, etc, which differentiate them from one another. However, one factor is common to them all, that is, safety.
Volunteering in Africa however comes with certain peculiarities, which may not apply in other places. Hence, it is important to prepare well in advance, to avoid any surprises.
Tips to ensure your safety as a volunteer in Africa
The following tips would guide you on what to do, to ensure your safety as a volunteer in Africa.
1. Be informed:
Information empowers you, to make the right decisions! And in the process of taking precautions, as a volunteer in Africa, this statement is no truer.
Make sure to guard yourself with important and relevant information about the country of your choice, the specific area, health conditions you need to prepare for, e.g malaria, etc.
This would help you get the necessary drugs, materials and prepare your mind for whatever you would meet there.
2. Keep your Belongings safe:
Keeping your valuables close by you is also very important, to safeguard your properties from robbers.
Valuables such as smartphones, cameras, money, wristwatches, laptops, etc. should be kept in a safe and secure place, on your way there, and when you leave your residence to render your volunteering services.
3. Have the contact details of help centers:
It is also important to have the contact details of help centers in cases of emergencies.
Have the contact details of medical practitioners, security personnel, etc.
4. Choose a reliable volunteering company:
This is the most important point in ensuring your safety as a volunteer in Africa.
Your volunteering company would provide all you need to be kept safe and secure throughout your stay.
Why Volunteer with Animals in Africa?
Animals in Africa are gradually going into extinction, due to the activities of man such as deforestation, poaching, illegal hunting activities, etc.
These activities are leading to animals losing their natural habitat and bringing about an increase in the hostility level between humans and animals.
And to reduce this, volunteering takes a core in protecting these animals from poachers, who would go to any length to get these animals down.
Also, volunteering with animals in Africa would afford you the opportunity of seeing and interacting with some animals, which are not easily seen in other continents of the world.
For example, the big five: Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Buffalos, and Rhinos take their home in Southern Africa, and volunteering in the continent would afford you the privilege of seeing them and contributing directly to making them not go extinct.
Volunteering with animals in Africa also helps you to contribute positively to the community needs and the lives of locals.
Getting the opportunity to interact in a new environment with new people is also another reason why you should consider volunteering with animals in Africa.
What are the most endangered animals in Africa?
Several animals make their homes on the African continent, from the small to the big, from the wild to the calm and easy-going.
However, it is at an alarming rate that these animals are going into extinction, in the blink of an eye.
The most endangered animals in Africa are:
Pangolins are the most trafficked mammals in the world. One Pangolin is taken from the wild by poachers once every five minutes.
– International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
The Pangolin is highly targeted by poachers for its skin and meat; as the skin is believed to have curative and medicinal effects, hence, the high rate at which it is being poached.
Pangolins are solitary animals, as they are active mostly at night. They weigh up to 12 kilograms and can be found in West and Central Africa, and also in Asia.
It is estimated that up to 200,000 mandolins are taken out of Africa every year!
2. Black Rhinos:
Black rhinos have a great sense of hearing, however, their sight is bad.
Meanwhile, Black rhinos are also gradually going into extinction, as they are being poached for their horns, which are used for making ornaments, and for medicinal purposes.
Black Rhinos weigh up to 800-1400kg, and they feed mainly on bushes and plants, etc. It is believed that there are only about 500 Black Rhinos in existence now.
3. Rothschild Giraffe:
About 2,500 Rothschild Giraffe are estimated to still be in existence, and they are being lost mainly due to loss of habitat to human encroachment.
A Rothschild Giraffe is up to 6 meters tall.
4. Ethiopian Wolf:
Less than 500 Ethiopian wolves are estimated to still be alive, as they are the most endangered canid in the world.
They live in close-knit packs and can be up to 18 individuals in a pack. Ethiopian Wolves weigh up to 14kg, they eat Rodents and are mostly found in Ethiopia.
They are gradually going into extinction due to loss of habitat, overgrazing by domestic livestock, etc.
5. African Penguin:
Penguins have the color white on their stomach and have the black color on their back.
They weigh up to 3.1kg, feed on fishes, and can be found in South Africa and Namibia.
About 21,000 breeding penguins are estimated to still be alive, and it is estimated that within 20 years from now, they would be extinct.
6. African Wild Dogs:
The African wild dogs are the second most endangered species, after the Ethiopian Wolf.
They form a strong bond with each other and can be found in Botswana, Tanzania, Namibia, etc.
There are about 1400-5000 wild dogs left, and they are being endangered as a result of infectious diseases, habitat fragmentation, etc.
7. African Elephants:
An average of 96 elephants are killed for their ivory in Africa each day.
– Wildlife Conservation Society
African Elephants are currently about 415,000 in number. They weigh as much as 6,000 kg, eat up to 250kg of vegetables, and drink as much as 150 to 250 liters of water/day.
African Elephants are mostly found in Central Africa.
8. Knysna SeaHorse:
These are also known as Cape Seahorse. They come in different colors ranging from Green, Brown, and Purplish Black, and their color can change depending on their mood.
The cape seahorses are endangered by urban expansion and pollution. They can be found in South Africa.
How do I Volunteer in Africa with Animals?
In volunteering with Animals in Africa, there are some steps you need to take, and they shall be discussed as follows.
1. Choose a destination:
There are various countries in Africa, where you can volunteer with Animals. Countries like Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Botswana, etc offer volunteering opportunities.
Hence, you need to decide on the country you want to go to, to serve as a volunteer. Certain factors can be considered in deciding this, such as; climate conditions, type of program available, costs, etc.
2. Choose a project:
There are various animal volunteering programs available, and you need to choose a project which suits your preference, the kind of experience you want, or what catches your fancy.
Also, there are marine conservation projects, which focus on conserving the marine life of animals. There are animal conservation projects, which focus on specific animals like Rhinos, Elephants, Baboons, etc.
Some programs cater to orphaned, stray, and abandoned animals.
The requirements of these projects differ, as well as their goals. Hence, you need to pick a project that suits your volunteering goals.
3. Decide the duration of your volunteering:
The duration for volunteering opportunities differs from project to project, and it would be important for you to decide how long you want to volunteer for, project.
While some volunteering projects can last up to 12 weeks, some others have a maximum of 2 weeks, which can then be repeated for up to 12 weeks, and for some, the minimum number of days is 7 days.
Whether you would be taking a year gap, going on a break from school, taking your yearly leave from work; the duration of your free time would determine how long you would be able to volunteer for, with other things being in place.
4. Get A Partner:
While this may not always be necessary, still, it would be a great idea to go on this amazing journey with someone. It could be your spouse, sibling, friend, etc.
Couples are given rooms to stay together, and it would be a great time to bond with your loved ones while contributing your quota to conserving wildlife.
This varies from traveling details and requirements, such as visa, travel tickets, etc.
You also need to gain enough knowledge about the country you would be volunteering at, learn about the animals you would be working with; their diet, size, habits, etc.
You also need to know of the climate condition of the country, the illnesses common there, to take medications and supplements, to arm you against illnesses.
Money is also very important, tor volunteering experience a stress-free one, filled with adventures and fun.
You can never over-prepare, make sure you ask the right questions, prepare your mind for anything, don’t have unrealistic expectations about how much you would be allowed to interact with the animals, especially the wild ones, which could be dangerous, etc.
6. Pack your essentials:
Pack all your essentials such as clothes, medications, gadgets, toiletries, etc.
7. Go with a reputable company: Make sure that the company you are volunteering with has l and ethical values, which guide animal care and protection.
You surely don’t want to be a part of a sham, using animals for selfish purposes, while posing as a conservation center.
Benefits of African Animal (Wildlife) Volunteering
There are so many benefits to be enjoyed, from volunteering yourself at wildlife conservation in Africa.
Not only does it bring you personal fulfillment and equip you with tangible skills, but it also helps you contribute a great quota to society, by working to ensure the survival of these amazing creatures.
Below are some benefits to being derived from volunteering with Animals in Africa:
1. Experience a new environment:
Volunteering with animals in Africa help you get exposed to a new environment, where you can explore life differently from
Volunteering helps you to not just stay indoors, doing regular things. It allows you the environment while contributing positively to its growth.
2. Interact with locals:
Volunteering in Africa with animals also affords you the chance of meeting and interacting with the locals, and not just other visitors like you.
In conservation centers, most of their staff members are usually locals, who are from Africa. Hence, you have the chance of interacting with them and gaining knowledge about their culture at the same time.
3. Contribute to the lives of animals:
As a volunteer, a core benefit you derive is the ability to contribute positively to the preservation of the animal species.
Volunteering gives you access to contribute your quota to the well-being of these animals, and see to it, that they are well kept, fed, and safe.
4. Interact closely with the animals in an ethical way:
Volunteering also gives you the chance of interacting with these animals ethically, which is healthy and safe.
You can see them, watch them closely, or even go close to them, depending on how safe they are, and the duty you are assigned to do.
5. Meet like-minded people from different places:
Getting into a volunteer role helps you to meet other people, who are also passionate about wildlife conservation like you.
You not only get to work closely with them, but you can also gain knowledge from them, and even learn about their cultures. A great relationship can also spring from a place like this.
6. Develop Your Skills:
Volunteering also helps you to develop your animal care skills.
You get to develop hard skills that can be useful for you in the future, should you choose to take a full-time job in wildlife conservation.
It also helps you gain knowledge while doing the job.
7. Gather Experience:
Experience can also be garnered from this, as you have hands-on experience from carrying out various activities during your volunteering period.
10 Volunteer Opportunities in Africa With Animal Protection in 2022
1. Wildlife Sanctuary Supporter:
This is an animal conservation center located in Namibia, which caters to injured and orphaned wildlife. The animals in this conservation are often relocated from local farms, where they are seen as posing risk to livestock and crop.
In volunteering with the Wildlife Sanctuary Supporter, you would be required to walk with baboons, prepare their food, do cheetah run and observation, conduct anti-poaching activities, etc.
Volunteers must be 18+, and they must be willing to work from Monday to Friday, and the program lasts from a minimum of 2 weeks to a maximum of 12 weeks.
2. Baboon Orphan Care-Giver:
This is located in Phalaborwa, South Africa.
They are involved in hand raising baby baboons orphans, and assisting them in bonding with surrogate baboon mothers.
Volunteers would be involved in hand-rearing of baby baboons, enrichment programs, be a primate keeper for adult baboons, cleaning activities of baboon houses, community outreach, etc.
Volunteers must be 18+, be ready to work for 7 days a week, throughout their volunteering period; although, there is a provision to take a 1-day break in each week. Work starts at 6 am and ends by 5 pm every day.
3. Elephant Conservation Supporter
This is located at Damaraland in Namibia, and it is concerned with conserving one of the ‘Big Five’; The Elephant.
It is a two weeks program, which, however, can be repeated for up to 12 weeks.
Volunteers would be involved in building protection walls for water sources for the elephants building alternative water sources, be engaged in elephant patrol, track elephants, take data records, etc.
Volunteers are required to work from Monday to Friday, from 07 am-05 pm.
4. Equine and Wildlife Holiday
This is located at Hoedspruit, South Africa, and they are engaged in the conservation of horses and other animals.
They are also engaged in taking in abandoned, abused and stray dogs, to help preserve their lives.
Volunteers would be engaged in learning about the animals, work with them, feed them, and generally interact with them.
Volunteers must be 18+, ready to work for 2-24 weeks.
5. Rhino and Elephant Conservation
This is located at Wedza, Zimbabwe. They are involved in conserving Black and White Rhinos, and Elephants.
Volunteers must be 17+ and would be involved in working along with s and Elephants, take part in anti-poaching activities, snare sweeps, etc.
The duration of the program is a minimum of one week, and a maximum of 8 weeks.
6. Wildlife Reserve Big Five Conservation
This is located at Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Here, the ‘Big Five’ are catered for. The ‘Big Five’ refer to Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Leopard, and Buffalo.
Volunteers are involved in the game count and monitoring, elements and tracking research, restoration, and rehabilitation of reserve landscapes and fencing, etc.
Volunteers must be willing to work from Mondays to Fridays, from 07:30 am to 5 pm. The duration for this program is for 2 weeks at a minimum and 12 weeks maximum.
7. Wildlife Reserve Supporter
This is located in Sidbury, South Africa. Here, the ‘Big Five’ are also a focal point, as the program focuses on rehabilitating and releasing them into the wild.
Volunteers are involved in the removal of alien vegetation, animal monitoring, landscaping, etc.
The duration of the program is for 1-4 weeks. Each workday has two sessions, the morning and afternoon sessions.
The morning session starts from 09:30 am- 1 pm, a break is given. Then the afternoon session starts from 02:30 pm -04:30 pm.
8. Great White Shark Conservation:
This program is located in Kleinbaai, South Africa. It is dedicated to preserving the White Shark and helping to conserve the environment.
Volunteers must be 18+, and they would be involved in cage-diving to observe and record data about the shark, this is usually done rotationally.
The program opens on the 14th, 30th, and 31st of every month, and takes place for 2 weeks to 12 weeks.
9. Domestic Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation
This is located in Cape Town, South Africa. They are involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of animals in need, stray animals, etc.
Volunteers have the responsibility of playing and feeding animals, cleaning their houses, assisting with rehabilitation techniques, etc.
The program spans from 1 week to 24 weeks, and volunteers are expected to work from Monday to Friday, from 8 am -3 pm.
10. Marine Conservation Research Assistant
This is situated at Nosy Komba, Madagascar. They are involved with the protection of the ecosystem of Madagascar.
Volunteers undertake research-based activities at sea, take care of marine wildlife, etc.
Volunteers are required to have health insurance, and to carry along preventative agents such as anti-malarial medications, rehydration supplements, sunscreen, etc.
The program spans from 4 weeks to 12 weeks, and participants must be 18+.
Volunteering with animals in Africa is surely a worthy cause that would create memories, which would be with you for life.