Here are some trips that will enrich you while providing a better future for the Earth’s creatures.
1. Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, Thailand
The renowned elephant camp cares for rescued elephants and provides employment for locals. Guests can experience what it’s like to be a mahout, interact with the gentle beasts and watch them splash about in the river.
2. Matang Wildlife Centre, Malaysia
Located in Malaysian Borneo, Matang Wildlife Centre is a refuge for orang utans that have been rescued from threats such as mass deforestation and forest fires. Volunteers with the project will carry out a variety of tasks such as husbandry, construction work, maintenance and farming.
3. Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project, Sri Lanka
Monitor sea turtle activity and conserve local nesting sites in Kosgoda, a town on the south-west coast of Sri Lanka. Here, every breeding ground, egg and hatchling is crucial to the species’ survival as only a few from each batch make it to adulthood. Volunteers will also conduct night patrols on the beach, maintain turtle tanks, collect and rebury eggs, and release the tiny critters into the ocean.
4. Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme, Maldives
Water babies, look no further than swimming and snorkelling with whale sharks – the world’s largest fish – in the Maldives, in the name of research and conservation under this programme. Data collection is done above and below the waves in the waters off Dhigurah Island in the South Ari atoll, all in an effort to increase knowledge and safeguard the marine ecosystem.
5. Libearty Bear Sanctuary, Romania
The 69ha bear sanctuary at the foothill of the Carpathian Mountains, near Brasov city, is the world’s largest of its kind for brown bears. Volunteers spend their days helping to provide for the 80 rescued creatures there by preparing food for, feeding and monitoring them, as well as assisting with on-site tours.
6. Bifengxia Panda Center, China
Around 80 pandas currently call the Bifengxia Panda Center home. Most of these large mammals were bred in captivity, in an effort to boost its population numbers due to loss of habitat and low birth rates. Become part of the animal husbandry team at this venue two-and-a-half hours from Chengdu near Ya’an city – work includes preparing food for the pandas, cleaning their enclosures and collecting data on their behaviour.
7. Global White Lion Protection Trust, South Africa
A genetic rarity of panthera leo, these majestic white lions can be found only in the Timbavati and Kruger regions of the Canyons Biosphere. The Global White Lion Protection Trust is based there, and is currently home to six white and four tawny lions. On-site activities range from lion tracking and monitoring to habitat management and prey studies.
8. New England Wolf Advocacy and Rescue Center, USA
Live off the grid while caring for wolves and other canines such as coyotes and wolf-dogs. Tasks at this sanctuary in the White Mountains of New Hampshire – for wolves that are displaced, unwanted or bred in captivity – include feeding the animals and maintaining enclosures. The best part? You can come into close contact with certain four-legged canines that enjoy human interaction.
9. Bwindi Forest National Park, Uganda
Be captivated by families of endangered mountain gorillas in southern Uganda’s Bwindi Forest, but guests must first trek to find them, which can take anything from 45 minutes to several hours. Upon reaching the gorillas, visitors get to spend an hour watching the creatures roam freely and socialise with one another in their lush natural habitat.