Imagine waking up in the middle of the night on a wildlife reserve in Africa and hearing a lion’s mighty roar. Picture yourself walking barely-trodden footpaths in the Amazon Rainforest as you track a family of rehabilitated spider monkeys. Can you feel the warm sun on your face as you think about standing on a gently rocking boat, preparing to dive with sharks in Fiji’s sparkling blue waters?
None of the above is a dream out of your reach. Our animal volunteer opportunities abroad open the door to work with animals of all shapes and sizes worldwide. Whether it’s fur or scales, you can work with various species, including wildlife you’ve never encountered before and familiar, cuddly domestic animals.
Read on to find out more about our favourite animal volunteer projects abroad for animal lovers and aspiring conservationists.
1. Rehabilitate wild animals in the middle of the jungle in Peru
Wildlife rehabilitation is the beating heart of the work we do at the Taricaya Ecological Reserve in the Amazon Rainforest. Together with our partner, Animal Defenders International (ADI), we dedicate ourselves to caring for wildlife rescued from circuses or lives as illegal pets. If an animal was born in captivity, and can’t be released, we provide an environment as close as possible to the life they would’ve had in the wild.
By doing animal volunteer work abroad in Peru, you’ll encounter fascinating wildlife species. You’ll meet our rehabilitated spider monkey troop, who live (and breed!) freely in the surrounding forests. You’ll get to know our resident endangered Spectacled Bear, Cholita, who exchanged years of abuse in a circus for a life spent dozing in the sun, surrounded by trees.
Taricaya is at the forefront of conservation efforts and wildlife rehabilitation in South America, and you can be in the thick of it.
You’ll do hands-on work, getting involved in activities geared toward rehabilitating not only animals but the forest itself.
Learn more about: Day-to-day life at our Conservation Project in Peru.
2. Care for Giant Tortoise and Sea Lions in the Galapagos Islands
Our partnership with the Galapagos National Park gives us exclusive access to the wilderness Darwin once studied. The work is hands-on, with the added benefit of learning from expert conservationists. This is a unique experience in a truly special environment.
You’ll do things like:
- Monitor and survey wildlife, including Giant Tortoises at a breeding centre, and sea lions and birds out in the wild
- Help control invasive animal species that threaten the indigenous wildlife, which is critical for environmental stability
- Eradicate alien plant species and help local plants thrive
- Support the community by participating in beach clean-ups and raising awareness of how people can protect animals and the environment
Learn more about: Conservation efforts in the Galapagos Islands
3. Protect Elephants on a game reserve in Botswana
As you can imagine, these gentle giants eat a lot. This means they spend most of their day thinking about food, looking for food, eating food…sounds familiar to us! In fact, the average adult African elephant spends between 12-18 hours a day feeding.
Their feeding habits can have quite an impact on the environment. This is why a big part of our work at a reserve in Botswana, focuses on:
- Monitoring population growth and movement
- Conserving water by building and repairing water holes, rain tanks, and boreholes (elephants need to drink plenty of water to wash the vegetation down, and water scarcity can be a problem in Southern Africa)
In addition to working with elephants, we work on anti-poaching initiatives, doing things like removing snares set by poachers. This helps protect the elephants.
At this project, you’ll also encounter other members of Africa’s Big 5, like lions and leopards. It’s the perfect project if you’re interested in volunteering with wild animals, and want to learn from conservation experts in the African bush.
Learn more about: Protecting Wildlife in Botswana.
4. Dive in Fiji… surrounded by sharks
This might sound just a little bit terrifying, but diving with sharks in tropical Fiji is something magical that you’ll talk about and remember for the rest of your life - we promise. It’s also a twist to the tale when you share your story of volunteering to help animals abroad. No one’s going to expect that animal to turn out to be a shark!
Sharks are in decline worldwide, and the Fijian government has made protecting sharks in their waters their top priority. As part of our efforts to support communities in Fiji, we run a Shark Conservation Project to help protect an endangered and frequently misunderstood species.
As a volunteer, you’ll actively collect critical data used for research to inform real conservation policies. You’ll work closely with local communities to raise awareness of why marine ecosystems can’t thrive without sharks. You’ll support marine life in Fiji by planting mangroves, which is also one of the ways we fight climate change by offsetting carbon emissions.
Your fear of sharks may run deep (you could’ve been one of those kids who always pictured sharks in swimming pools), but you can rest assured that our dives are entirely safe. You’ll be supervised by expert diving instructors from our highly respected dive partners, Beqa Adventure Divers. Their safety record on shark dives is 100%.
Interested in diving and marine conservation, but a little wary about sharks? Check out our Diving & Marine Conservation Project in Thailand.
Learn more about: Our Shark Conservation Project in Fiji
5. Giraffe & Lion Conservation in Kenya
Experience the ultimate African adventure by living and working in the heart of the Savannah at Soysambu Conservancy. You’ll get hands-on experience and learn from expert conservationists, while doing things like:
- Research endangered species and monitor local lion and giraffe populations
- Set camera traps
- Raise awareness about the importance of protecting the environment
- Remove invasive plant species
- Maintain natural water holes for the animals
Work with endangered Rothschild's Giraffe and get to know the local Lion prides. You'll document the movements and interactions of both species. This information will help local communities and reserves.
You'll join community outreach events to teach about the importance of protecting the environment and wildlife.
Learn more about: Protecting Lions and Giraffes in Kenya.
6. Give meaning to your next beach holiday by adding turtles
Interested in spending a couple of weeks at the beach, but want to inject purpose into your trip through animal volunteering abroad? Our Conservation Project in Mexico sees you working closely with endangered sea turtles at a local ecological centre. You’ll combine working at the centre with working on a nearby black sand beach and lagoon.
It’s hard work, filled to the brim with adventure and moments of tranquil beauty. The breeze whipping through your hair at night while you scout for new nests from the back of a quad bike. Witnessing the miracle of life as you watch eggs hatch in protected corrals at the centre, and later seeing them scurry toward the ocean. Drifting around a lagoon, scratching notes about the birds you see. There are all kinds of activities to protect Sea Turtles.
Sounds like a dream holiday, especially with animals like sea turtles in the mix!
There are also similar opportunities to work with Sea Turtles in Sri Lanka.
Learn more about: Protecting endangered Sea Turtles in Mexico.
8. Whale and Puma Conservation in Patagonia, Argentina
If you love wildlife and have a passion for the outdoors, then head to Patagonia! This vast and remote area is rarely visited. It's one of the most fascinating ecosystems in the world and is teaming with impressive wildlife.
Stay at a wildlife refuge 80km north of Puerto Madryn. The ranch is far from civilisation and offers a real insight into rural Argentinian life.
You'll take part in seasonal censuses of Sea Lion and Southern Right Whale populations. These mighty creatures come within a few metres of the coast during their breeding and calving seasons.
Throughout the year, you’ll help follow the local puma population using tracks and camera traps. It’s an incredible opportunity to study the largest predator in Patagonia. You’ll also study the population of guanaco. These are the most representative mammals of the Patagonian Steppe. You will have the opportunity to meet them throughout the year, observe their behaviour and carry out population counts.
You will also have the opportunity to learn to cultivate the land and take care of animals. We’ll also teach you to build with natural material and eco-friendly construction techniques. The local staff will guide you in building your own Patagonian herbarium, and even teach you to cook typical dishes of the region.
Learn more about: Animal Care in Patagonia, Argentina.
9. Help African Penguins waddle back to the oceans in South Africa
If you’ve travelled to Cape Town, chances are high that you visited Boulders Beach, a local tourist hotspot. And if you’ve been here, you’ve definitely heard the distinctive donkey-like braying of the African penguins!
Boulders Beach is home to one of the biggest colonies of breeding African penguins, and the only place you can see these charmers waddling around this close. Even though it’s a protected area, their numbers are dwindling. Sadly, what used to be a thriving population has shrunk to a colony of fewer than 3,000 birds, leaving the species endangered and highly vulnerable.
In South Africa, you can volunteer with African penguins (and other seabirds, like pelicans) and support their rehabilitation when they’re injured or ill. You’ll work alongside full-time carers and expert conservationists, assisting with general care, feeding, and rehabilitation. It’s critical work, as the centre has its hands full, and it relies heavily on volunteers, especially during egg-laying season.
Working with penguins in South Africa is an incredibly unique opportunity for you to actively learn about animal rehabilitation (specifically related to seabirds) and give back as a volunteer abroad at the same time.
Learn more about: Caring for Penguins in South Africa
Do you offer free animal volunteer programmes abroad?
We aren’t able to offer free animal volunteer programmes abroad. This is because we run several of our own centres and initiatives without relying on other sources of funding, and we offer a high level of support to our volunteers at the same time. We also have a comprehensive animal welfare policy in place to guide our volunteers and ensure the safety of the wildlife and animals we work with.
The fees you pay include:
- Three meals a day
- Airport transfers
- A full project, with everything you need to do the work
If you’re looking for cheap animal volunteering abroad, we can recommend ways to make the experience more affordable for you. Read our fundraising advice, and if you’re able to secure funding through a scholarship or bursary, you’ll be able to use it for a Projects Abroad programme, as we’re an official organisation.
How do I get involved in helping animals overseas?
Our animal conservation volunteer opportunities are open to anyone aged 16 and older. Most are open to people of all backgrounds and skills. If a project has requirements, we’ll state it clearly on the project information page.
We also offer special animal volunteer programmes for high school students in:
When you’re researching the type of animal volunteering abroad that you want to do, feel free to reach out to our Project Experts for help at any time!
Want to volunteer with animals?
Contact us to get started!