Fee Miko has worked in a variety of roles as a volunteer and advocate for wildlife across the globe. Fee has kindly shared her advice and suggestions with us in this article and it is a must read for anyone who is interested in working with animals. Animal volunteer projects and wildlife tourism is something that everyone needs to research prior to conducting to ensure that the most vulnerable creatures on earth are not exploited.
Before you go, make sure you do your research to find an ethical wildlife charity. I cannot stress this enough. You want to ensure your time and hard-earned money is going into the right hands. The animals and local communities must receive the benefit. You want to support a charity that has the animals best interest at heart.
VOLUNTEERING WITH WILDLIFE
1 Independent Volunteering
This is where you organise your own travel and communicate directly with the charity. You might do this before you leave for your destination or find a place once you are already abroad. This will give you the opportunity to explore the local area and even ask around for suitable wildlife projects.
This is where a company advertises a variety of volunteer projects available around the world and you select which one you want to do, and they help place and manage your trip. Essentially, they are the middleman between you and the charity.
If you decide to go with a Voluntourism Project, please be careful of the company you choose to work with. These experiences can be very expensive, unfortunately, the costs do not relate to the company’s level of responsibility. Often you will find that most of these funds are not going to the care of the animal but to those who operate the business. This article will ensure you are aware of the presenting issues in the industry and know how to avoid the possible negative consequences of volunteering with animals.
CHOOSING A PROJECT
Although many wildlife charities will accept people with no animal experience, make sure you ask yourself what your intentions and goals are of volunteering with animals. You must be determined, physically fit for strenuous long days and have a willingness to listen and learn from the staff and other volunteers. Each organisation runs differently, and if you do have prior animal experience, don't walk in feeling that you know it all.
These organisations are open to feedback if it is constructive and feasible for their abilities and resources. If you have teaching experience, are a construction worker or have an IT/marketing background, these skills could all be used for their projects in a variety of ways.
You would be able to help with the day to day tasks, as well as enhance the charity in other ways. Don't be shy to let them know your area of expertise when applying. When you enquire to make sure you ask questions about what you will be doing, where you will be living and what is expected of you. Your queries should be appreciated. If you don’t get answers or don’t trust the ones you hear, reconsider your choice and move on.