Malawi Wildlife Sanctuary

Conservation Travel Africa  »  Malawi Wildlife Sanctuary

Malawi Wildlife Sanctuary

from £1,131
Duration: from 2 weeks to 12 weeks
Countries: Malawi
Volunteer in Malawi at its only accredited wildlife sanctuary. Volunteers get involved with daily animal care, rehabilitation and release projects, wildlife research and community education.

Malawi Wildlife Sanctuary

Live in the heart of Lilongwe on a tranquil 500 acre wildlife reserve which is home to free-roaming wildlife as well as a busy wildlife sanctuary. 

Do more than rescue and care for individual wild animals on this varied and exciting wildlife sanctuary volunteer programme in Malawi, the “warm heart of Africa”. As well as learning about and caring for orphaned and injured wildlife, volunteers also take part in wildlife research projects, animal rehabilitation and wildlife release. This sanctuary project takes its responsibilities very seriously and has won awards for its efforts to promote, address and resolve the human-wildlife conflict in Malawi.

There are just under 200 animals in residence at the sanctuary including primates, carnivores, antelope, reptiles and birds. Most have been rescued as orphans or were victims of the illegal bushmeat and pet trade, others have been injured in snares, hit by cars or stoned by local villagers. Thanks to the state-of-the-art vet clinic, orphan care programme, experienced animal care team and dedicated volunteers, the majority of intakes can be managed on site.

Whilst the sanctuary operates a strict hands-off policy, orphans and juveniles do need special attention so the chances are you will be put to use in surrogacy work and providing initial care to younger animals until they enter the second phase of the rehabilitation and release programme. This is an amazing opportunity to get hands on with wildlife, working towards their eventual release back into their natural habitat.

Why choose this project?

Get involved in a wide range of different animal care activities as well as getting experience in wildlife ecology and veterinary medicine. This project is focused on keeping wildlife in the wild and rehabilitating and releasing as many animals as possible back into their natural habitat.

What sort of things will I be doing?

While this project prides itself on its hands-off approach to animal care so that the animals have the best chance of successful release, when volunteers look after baby and orphaned animals, your skills as a surrogate parent will undoubtedly be called into play!

Animal Care:

Volunteers play an essential role in the daily care of the sanctuary’s animals:

  • Prepare meals for animals on a daily basis and feed during the day (and night!)
  • Find food for younger animals (you may need to forage for grasshoppers for a pygmy hedgehog!)
  • Help care for orphaned animals, primates and birds
  • Learn about successful rehabilitation and release methods
  • Spend time with distressed, young or older animals who need monitoring
  • Clean out enclosures and feeding pens
  • Learn about the human-wildlife conflict and how individual animals were brought to the sanctuary
  • Help settle newly rescued animals into groups or into their rehabilitation enclosures
  • Quietly observing sick and injured wildlife
  • Orphaned babies may also need intensive care such as bottle feeding, observation and interaction

Veterinary Support:

  • Assist the on-site vet in basic surgical procedures on all sorts of animals from hedgehogs to lions and barn owls!
  • Assist with vaccinations and health checks for new arrivals
  • If you are studying Veterinary Medicine then you will have priority when helping on veterinary procedures and operations

Habitat and animal enrichment:
A critical volunteer role is to enrich the lives of the animals who cannot be released back into the wild, give them as natural a life as possible and enable them to behave as closely as they would in the wild.

  • Build activity centres for baboons and primates to enable them run, jump and climb
  • Make toys for the baboons to stimulate foraging
  • Animal Rehabilitation and Release:
  • Releases done by this sanctuary have been highly acclaimed, thanks to the expertise and effort which goes into the rehabilitation process and subsequent release. Volunteers are crucial to this process from rehabilitation through monitoring and subsequent release.
  • Help with pre-release monitoring to ensure animals are fit to be released
  • Settle new arrivals and rehabilitated animals into new groups and monitor their progress

Maintenance and repair:
Parts of the sanctuary are open to the public and can get busy, so there are always repairs to be done:

  • Build and repair enclosures and fences
  • Make, paint or repair signs
  • Help dig new waterholes and repair roads

Research and studies:

  • Get involved with ecological surveys and mammal censuses
  • Work on the afforestation project which supports wider wildlife conservation in Malawi

Community education and outreach:
Only through community education can the human-wildlife conflict be resolved and volunteers are encouraged to spend time with local people and helping children understand the importance of protection the wildlife and their environment.

  • Help with guided tours and show children animals they may have never seen before
  • Visit rural communities and engage with them about wildlife
  • Get involved with tree planting projects
  • Help with community development initiatives such as fuel briquette projects to reduce the loss of animal habitats from the selling and burning of firewood

Learn about wildlife and the environment:

  • Go on bush walks and learn to track animals
  • Identify the trees and plants around you and learn about their uses in traditional medicine and legends
  • Learn about the constellations and the stunning night skies
  • Relax and enjoy bike riding through the reserve, reading by the river or hiking the wildlife trails

Interested in this; ready to enquire?

Apply now by clicking the button below and filling out the application form on Conservation Travel Africa should then be in touch shortly to help with your enquiry.


Further Details

More information about this gap year opportunity...

Price details:

from £1,131

Project Highlights

- Join an acclaimed team, experienced in successful animal releases
- Learn new skills in basic veterinary care as you assist with health checks and vaccinations
- Work alongside permanent staff as you hand-rear orphaned babies
- Work on enrichment projects to keep animals happy and healthy
- Help maintain the busy sanctuary and work on construction and building projects
- Meet local schoolchildren as you accompany them on guided tours of the centre
- Work on research projects, ecological surveys and mammal censuses to support wider conservation efforts in Malawi
- Get involved with released animals, monitor and collect data
- Help integrate rehabilitated animals into new groups prior to release
- Wake up that sound of the wilderness around you - the chattering of monkeys and the roaring of lions!
- Have a fantastic African adventure as you enjoy safaris, sandy beaches and amazing scenery

What's included

- Programme fee - financing which goes back into the programme your are involved with; this includes funding for equipment, supplies, vehicles and foodstuffs
- Transfers to and from Lilongwe Airport to the project on a Tuesday
- Full board and lodging for the duration of your programme including laundry (exc. any snacks, alcoholic or fizzy drinks from the bar)
- Three meals per day
- Free wireless internet
- Free t-shirt and local sim card
- Full 24 hour support and training from your programme co-ordinators during your stay
- All programme-related transport and equipment required to do your work
- Internet use

Do I need experience

We welcome volunteers with a passion and interest in wildlife and conservation and the ability to communicate suitably in English. Experience in many fields is useful, such as veterinary, animal care, marketing, filmmaking, photography - and if you have any of these skills you may be put to good use!
If you have experience in or are studying in Veterinary Science and would like to spend more time on that side, this can usually be arranged and is usually very welcome!

How old do I need to be

Volunteers must be over 18 years

Do I need a visa

You will need a tourist visa which, for most nationalities, is free at the airport for 30 days. Extensions can be arranged when you are at the project.

What will the weather be like

Malawi’s climate is hot in the low-lying areas in the south of the country and temperate in the northern highlands. The altitude moderates what would otherwise be an equatorial climate.
Between November and April the temperature is warm with equatorial rains and thunderstorms, with the storms reaching their peak severity in late March. After March, the rainfall rapidly diminishes and from May to September wet mists float from the highlands into the plateaus, with almost no rainfall during these months.

When can I come

Volunteers can begin this Wildlife Sanctuary Project on any Tuesday throughout the year including Christmas / New Year

About Conservation Travel Africa

Conservation Travel Africa was established to help restore Africa’s wilderness areas, working with existing organisations and conservationists to achieve long term goals through conservation, education and wildlife research. These projects need volunteers to support their work and we pride ourselves on providing meaningful and responsible volunteer programmes which are beneficial, necessary and, most of all, fun!

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