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Conservation Volunteering Abroad

Conserve wildlife and environments

Volunteering on a conservation project on your gap year is a great way to contribute to the preservation and future survival of key wildlife, environments, and eco-systems. A huge number of species have been put on the endangered list due to changes to or destruction of their environment, and becoming a conservation project volunteer puts you on the front line of the fight back. There are all kinds of conservation projects all over the world, but they can be divided into three broad categories: marine conservation, animal conservation, and environmental conservation.

Volunteering on a marine conservation project involves monitoring and working to preserve delicate marine eco-systems around the world that are suffering from pollution, habitat destruction, and overfishing. Becoming an animal conservation volunteer will pair you with some of the world’s most endangered and vulnerable animals in need of protection from hunting, trafficking, and habitat destruction. Environmental conservation overlaps both of the above, volunteers working to preserve all kinds of environments as well as working within local communities to help people live peacefully alongside nature.

Articles about volunteering abroad


Finding a conservation project

When deciding what kind of conservation project you should choose, it can be helpful to think of yourself first. It may sound selfish, but choosing something you are passionate about will mean you are motivated to work hard and help as much as you can. For example, if you are particularly interested in marine habitats, volunteering on a coral conservation project on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia might be a good pick for you. There are a huge range of conservation projects abroad, some working directly with animals and others focusing on very specific kinds of habitat. Think about your interests, look closely at what any given project will ask of you, and choose one where you think you’ll really be able to contribute something valuable. You can also think about your future career. Are you a budding marine biologist? Volunteer on a marine conservation project! There are so many choices you’re bound to find something that suits you.

What does conservation work entail?

The type of work you do on a conservation project will vary greatly depending on what project you have chosen. Working to preserve rainforest habitat in Bolivia will obviously be very different to helping save a coral reef in Egypt. Generally speaking, it is likely to be a mix of manual labour and work that involves monitoring and reporting on aspects of important wildlife. Some projects will have you interacting quite closely with the animals themselves, such as elephants and rhinos, while others will focus on environmental care, during which time you may not see the animals at all. Volunteering on a construction project abroad will obviously revolve around building and related work. Read any project listing carefully to get a good idea of what any conservation project is likely to ask of you.

Environmental conservation projects

Volunteering on a community environmental project abroad involves helping to protect the lush habitats of some of the world’s wildest areas. There are thousands of different plant and wildlife species all over the world suffering from the effects of deforestation, global warming, and other environmental issues. This has a knock-on effect, threatening or endangering scores of local wildlife.

As an environmental volunteer, you’ll work to conserve precious fauna and flora across the globe by safeguarding their natural environment. Regular tasks will vary from day to day, and may include monitoring and surveillance, data collection, sample collecting, manual labour, local education, and more.

It’s not all hard work. You’ll have the pleasure of working in some of the world’s most incredible locations, with unparalleled access and the freedom to travel in your time off.

African wildlife conservation

Conservation work in Africa helps protect the existing reserves, the iconic wildlife that lives there, and the people who call them home. There are numerous environmental issues negatively impacting African wildlife, including deforestation, hunting and poaching, and friction between local communities and native animals.

Volunteering on an African conservation project will see you have a hand in protecting over 1,100 species of mammal, not to mention birds, insects, and more – all of it vital to the African eco-system. Your duties will depend on what conservation project you choose, but you might interact with African animals, like lions, monkeys and elephants, track and survey wildlife at a distance, work to remove traps and snares and tackle hunters, operate community clean ups, and much more. And you’ll do it all on one of the most incredible continents in the world.

Animal conservation projects

If animals are your passion, there are a huge range of animal conservation projects abroad to choose from. You’ll get to travel to astounding locations, work to protect some of the world’s most endangered species, and help to create cleaner, more sustainable environments for all our animal friends.

There are few better ways to help vulnerable wildlife than by volunteering on an animal conservation project. It might be preventing elephants from being caged and mistreated in South East Asia, helping sea turtles injured by plastic refuse washed up on coastline in Mexico, or rescuing monkeys in South Africa. You’ll be responsible for preparing food, cleaning out enclosures, monitoring injured animals, surveying their natural environment, or something else entirely depending on your chosen project.

If you are planning a career in animal care, or simply love our four-legged friends, animal conservation projects might be for you.

Marine conservation projects

If protecting and rehabilitating marine life while scuba diving in some of the world’s most beautiful destinations sounds like your idea of heaven, volunteering on a marine conservation project might be right up your street.

There is a raft of issues damaging the delicate ecosystems and survival or marine animals. Marine conservation volunteers are needed to fight back against the harm caused by pollution, overfishing, habitat destruction, global warming, whaling, and more. Your job will be to protect vulnerable species and habitats in places all over the world, such as Thailand, the Bahamas, Mozambique, the Galapagos Islands, and even the Seychelles. Volunteers will need a PADI diving qualification, and many placements will include earning this if you don’t have it already.

Marine life is in danger, and you can use your travels to help keep it safe and ensure a bright future. Find out more about the importance of marine conservation.

Coral reef conservation projects

A specific form of marine conservation centres on protecting coral reefs. These are incredibly important, diverse ecosystems under threat of extinction from a huge number of issues, including climate change, unlicensed fishing, and pollution. Volunteering on a coral conservation project will cast you in an important role of saving these natural wonders.

Depending on your project, you will get to dive at some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world, from Australia to Belize, to collect samples and data, create action plans for change, and develop partnerships with local organisations to make it a reality. As above, volunteers with likely need a PADI scuba diving qualification, though many projects will include you getting this as part of your placement.

Rainforest conservation projects

Save the rainforest! It’s almost become a cliché, but there is no doubt that essential rainforest eco-systems all over the world are in decline, something which could have a massive negative impact on the planet and everything living on its surface. Volunteering on a rainforest conservation project allows you to play an active role in protecting and sustainably managing natural ecosystems in an attempt to conserve their biodiversity.

The work you do will vary greatly depending on which placement you choose. You might be removing the threat of feral animals and invasive plant life, culling introduced predators, re-introducing threatened species, working to restore natural habitats, or preventing deforestation in South America. There may also be the opportunity to develop key partnerships with local government groups and organisations to create conservation projects in the local area.

Whatever work you’re doing, you’ll be doing it in some of the most amazing countries and rainforest locations in the world.

Do I need qualifications?

Many conservation projects will not expect you to hold any related qualifications. Any necessary training will be offered on-site upon arrival. You may also be working alongside professionals who can teach you as you go. This means that conservation projects can be a great way to learn and develop invaluable skills and put them to good use at the same time.

What are you waiting for?

If you think that volunteering on a conservation project might be the right move for you, take a look at the options on this page. There are so many choices you’re bound to find something that suits you and that will fit into your travel plans.

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