Endangered species worldwide depend on the help and protection of motivated animal rights activists. In Thailand, greed, corruption and above all, a low level of education are the causes of an increase in the nation’s ’empty forests’. Illegal hunters and those who trade in wildlife are prosecuted, but this is not consistent. Also, due to a lack of awareness across Thailand of the need to conserve plants and biotopes due to the role they play in the make up of wildlife habitats, our animal friends need as much help as we can give!
You’ll have the chance to take an active role in protecting endangered species from extinction and also support the team in educating the population. Monkeys, bears, birds, elephants and wolves are amongst just some of the different species living at the sanctuary currently.
The wildlife sanctuary was founded in 2001 and is spread across 7 acres. As a sanctuary for mistreated and neglected wild animals, the facility mainly takes care of sick or health-restricted wild animals, which could include those who have been kept as pets, or exploited by the tourism industry. One resident of the sanctuary is a crocodile who became too big for his owner to keep at his home, living alongside two elephants who were used in the tourist industry for many years. Once the animals are nursed back up to full strength they are, where possible, released back into freedom.
Unfortunately some of the animals are not able to be released so they will stay in the sanctuary, long term. Some animals are actually born onsite, and spend their entire lives there. Sometimes, for these animals a life in the wild is just not possible, which is why the educational element of the foundation is so important. They visit children in local schools, in the hope that with better knowledge, the future generations can take better care of wildlife.
Your working hours will be discussed with you upon arrival, but even on working days you will have time to run errands or take a break. On the weekends, many volunteers like to take trips to the nearby islands of Koh Tao and Koh Samui – it is like a tropical dream and not one to miss! You may also like to take a trip to the beaches of Hua Hin on your days off or visit the Thai spa nearby.
With a goal of rehabilitation and releasing as many animals as possible, it is very important for each volunteer to learn everything there is to know about the care and upkeep of the animals and their habitats. The living conditions of each animal must reflect their real-life natural environment.
Feeding the animals will be one of your main responsibilities. This job may sound easy but it is more challenging than you may assume – you have to get creative and ensure that access to the food is as close to what it would be in the wild. For example, monkeys have to pick their food, but for the elephants you would be placing nets high up in to the treetops. You will also take part in food preparation, whether that is harvesting the fruit, buying the fodder or preparing the meals in the ‘animal kitchen’. You will also have daily zookeeping jobs, such as cleaning the enclosures and dwellings. You may also have some rehabilitation tasks. The team go to great lengths to ensure that reintroduction to the wild is a success. For example, the monkeys are always released in pairs, and they will initially be set free on the offshore islands of Thailand. The team will then observe the pair to see how they cope alone. The sea acts as a natural border so if the animals are struggling it is very easy to catch them again.