Africa – land of opportunity
Africa is a vast and diverse continent. It’s also one that is all too often only discussed in the media in terms of troubles and challenges, which is a pity given it is a continent of vast opportunity and hope. This is evidenced in many different ways, not the least of which is the changing attitudes over recent decades towards one of its greatest natural resources – its wildlife. Once ruthlessly over-exploited by both local people and visitors, today there is ever-more emphasis on conservation and care of wildlife in many African countries. If you’re up to the challenge you may find the opportunity to work with animals and play a part in that precious work.
There are a number of projects available in different areas in which volunteers are able to participate. For example, in South Africa there is an endangered species centre that specialises in providing care and attention to animals that are sick or injured. Although such care is important for any wild creature, it may be particularly so to animals who are in danger of extinction.
You can volunteer to help in the centre and others like it, where you’ll not only get the chance to assist in looking after these magnificent animals but also to learn about their environment. You can also see just how local people live and interact with the animals in their immediate locality.
You can also take an introductory course in game ranger duties, something that will allow you access to not only the day-to-day work associated with providing a secure environment for wild animals, but also to understand some of the challenges associated with anti-poaching duties and the like.
A life-broadening experience
For many people, exposure to large animals is an experience restricted to zoos and other such institutions. Trying to get some sort of experience of being able to work with animals may be limited to domestic species. Yet if you find one of these volunteering-type breaks in Africa, you’ll get the chance to combine the above two things together into a unique experience set. Yes, it’s possible to see it as part holiday but have no illusions – it’s also hard and rewarding work.
Opportunities exist in a number of countries and in a several different reserves and environments. Some such breaks might specialise in certain types of animal species whereas others may be more generalist in their approach. You might find some, for example, that specialise in pre-veterinary school experience – something that might be very useful if you’re planning a career in animal medicine.
So, if you’d like to try something different which involves being able to work with animals, why not try one of these volunteering breaks? It could literally change your life.