Volunteering with animals abroad is a fulfilling experience for those looking to combine a passion for travel and working with animals. Whether it’s providing care in animal shelters, supporting the conservation of endangered sea turtles or marveling at majestic creatures like elephants, International Volunteer HQ has an animal or wildlife conservation volunteer project to cater for all kinds of animal lovers.
Costa Rica - Turtle Conservation
Symbolic for being creatures of longevity and wisdom, you will truly be captivated by the Turtle Conservation project in Costa Rica. With placements located on the Pacific and Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, you will quickly find a home away from home in your beach-side surroundings.
Volunteer roles on this project vary according to the time of year, but general work includes beach patrols, building hatcheries to protect eggs from predators, beach cleaning, counting and tagging sea turtles and locating nesting females. Due to human disturbance, the ecosystem of the turtles often makes for difficult breeding conditions, and volunteers play a vital role in ensuring breeding conditions are ideal, increasing turtles’ chances of survival.
IVHQ was my very first volunteer experience. I worked on the Sea Turtle Conservation project in Ostional, Costa Rica. It was such an amazing experience. I was able to meet so many different people, and work almost every day with sea turtles. I really felt like I helped make a difference, and helped conservation efforts for the sea turtles at this beach. I would highly recommend this program and IVHQ. You will be a different person when you’re done. Haley Erickson, IVHQ Turtle Conservation volunteer in Costa Rica
Related project: Bali - Ubud - Turtle Conservation
The Bali - Ubud Turtle Conservation project is located on the island of Nusa Penida, which is a 45 minute boat ride from Bali’s main island. Volunteers work alongside a local team to protect the endangered sea turtles of Indonesia in both proactive and reactive activities.
Volunteer work is focused on hands-on care for turtles at a conservation center, including feeding and cleaning turtles and helping maintain equipment. Please note that volunteers on the Turtle Conservation project must participate on the project for a minimum of two weeks. This project is ideal for those wanting cultural immersion, as well as meaningful volunteer work with animals.
Guatemala - Animal Care
For many of us, household pets are an integral part of our lives. Whether you’re a cat or dog lover, you will be unified in your desire to assist the animals on the Animal Care project in Guatemala. Located 10 minutes out of Antigua, there are opportunities to work in an animal shelter for household pets or a refuge center for exotic animals, giving you the opportunity to interact with snakes, spiders, turtles and crocodiles.
While volunteering in Guatemala, you can expect to protect these animals and provide human company, medical treatment and playtime for the animals. There is also capacity to run spay/neuter programs, rabies vaccinations at clinics, fundraising events and lead educational programs in local schools.
Volunteering at a vet clinic in La Antigua, Guatemala was one of the best decisions I have ever made. When I first registered for the program I was beyond nervous and questioning if I had made the right choice. By the time I had boarded the plane I knew this would be a great adventure and I was right. From meeting a bunch of awesome people to living with a local family, eating local food and experiencing their holidays and culture - my entire two weeks were filled with breathtaking moments. I climbed an active volcano, spent an amazing day at Lake Atitlan and celebrated All Saints Day. I highly suggest making a list of all the things you want to do and completing some daily so you don’t miss out. Laura Austin, IVHQ Animal Care volunteer in Guatemala
Mexico - Animal Care/Animal Rights
Peru - Cusco - Animal Care
Both projects offer a very similar structure to the Guatemala Animal Care project, within their own unique environments. Volunteers have the opportunity to work in cat/dog shelters, where they bathe, brush, train, walk and play with the cats and dogs to prepare them for adoption. Cleaning cages and providing maintenance to their facilities is also important work. Educating the local community is an integral part of these programs and a way forward in reducing current issues. Depending on the experience you hope to gain from your volunteer trip, Mexico and Peru have a wealth of history to explore and should be on every adventurer’s must-visit list.
Portugal - Wolf Conservation
With the threat of extinction looming, wolves are protected under Portuguese law. Long seen as predators to Portuguese farmers, conservation groups have made great efforts to prevent extinction and support the coexistence of farmers and wolves through education campaigns.
The key role of volunteers on this project is to support the wolves in their environment, helping out on a variety of day-to-day tasks at a local conservation center, including assisting with animal feeding, checking water, maintenance of the center, fire prevention, cleaning, observing wolf behavior and movement, assisting with visiting school groups, clearing trees, reforestation and monitoring of visitors.
When volunteering in Portugal on the Wold Conservation project, you’ll be based in the town of Mafra, 25 minutes from Lisbon. This beautiful oasis allows you to live in cabin-style accommodation right by the wolf enclosures and you will truly feel immersed in. Please note this project has a minimum two week duration.
Sri Lanka - Wild Elephant Conservation
The Sri Lankan elephant subspecies is the largest in Asia, holding great cultural and religious significance in Sri Lanka. However, they have come under threat due to the loss of forests and clearing for human settlements and expanding agriculture. Sri Lankan elephants can also be viewed as a nuisance by many local farmers, as they invade farms looking for crops.
The aim of the Wild Elephant Conservation project is to develop effective measures to resolve human-elephant conflict. Volunteer tasks include assessing conflicts, mapping biodiversity using surveying techniques, assisting with the implementation of human-elephant conflict resolution projects and developing sustainable rural livelihood initiatives. Listed as an endangered species, you will play an integral role in ensuring elephant longevity is maintained in conservation efforts. Please note this project has a minimum two week duration.
Further Wildlife Expeditions
While in Sri Lanka, you will be surrounded by beautiful animals throughout your stay and for those willing explorers, there is the opportunity to witness Sri Lanka’s Big Five, which is The Blue Whale, Sperm Whale, Leopard, Tropical Bear and Asian Elephant, which you will become familiar with during the program. Wildlife tours can be booked for long weekends or added on to the end of your trip. These can be booked prior to departure or in consultation with the local team while you’re in-country.
Victoria Falls - Wildlife Conservation
It isn’t everyday that you get to experience living inside a wildlife reserve with all the “Big 5” animals: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. Volunteers on the Wildlife Conservation project in Victoria Falls are based on a private game reserve which also serves as an intensive protection zone for the critically endangered black rhino.
Here you have the opportunity to get involved in a raft of conservation management practices, all of which are vital for the successful operation of the game reserve, its surrounding areas and their ecosystems. Conservation activities may include alien vegetation removal, applying soil erosion control methods, vulture feeding ground maintenance, fence patrols, bush walks with International Anti-Poaching Foundation, waterhole creation, maintenance and monitoring, freshwater ecosystem analysis, game, predator and bird monitoring, tracking and counting, road maintenance, upkeep of river crossings, predator culvert checks and reserve clean-up operations.
Volunteers are accommodated on site at the conservation center, so you will truly feel at one with the wild while on this project.
It was such a surreal experience volunteering at Victoria Falls and I’ve learnt so much about the African wildlife and the importance of the conservation efforts here. One of the highlights was working right next to the rhinos as we were building the bomas for them. I’ve really been able to develop a new appreciation for the beautiful wildlife that live in this world. Jennifer Gao, IVHQ Wildlife Conservation volunteer in Victoria Falls
Still looking for more? Check out IVHQ’s full range of Wildlife and Animal Care projects. If you need a bit more help deciding which is right for you, try taking our quiz to find which conservation project suits you best. Otherwise, apply now and start your animal volunteer experience today!