Save the nature: volunteering programs for animal lovers – Part 1

Volunteer programs are the great opportunity to go on an exciting trip, get a memorable experience that you will cherish for the rest of your life and do some kind of a good deed. There is a huge number of areas, where volunteers can apply their abilities and skills. In this article, we will take a look at the most touching deed, which is caring for wild birds and animals. Working at the reserves, volunteers often have a chance to closely communicate with such animals like pandas, koalas or elephants. But keep in mind that wildlife volunteer programs are no vacation. You have to work hard and be responsible for the welfare of our furry friends.

1. Save birds in Greece

Paros is often called a jewel of all Greek islands. Paros is located on one of the main routes of bird migration from Europe to Africa. And it is not surprising that here there are more cases of bird deaths and injuries than elsewhere.

In 1995 the Alkyonis Wildlife Hospital was established on the island of Paros. It is located right in the house of the hospital’s director on a hilltop overlooking the sea. This incredibly beautiful place has become a refuge for depleted and wounded migratory birds, as well as pelicans, herons and flamingos living on the island. The staff creates special conditions for those birds, which cannot survive in the wild and live out their lives in the Alkyonis Wildlife Hospital.

Alkyonis Wildlife Hospital was founded by local residents, not indifferent to the fate of the migrating birds. Till this day the hospital exists with the help of donations from individuals and volunteers. And in addition to financial support, the hospital is happy to host volunteers who are ready to help. Applications from volunteers are accepted all year round. Volunteers can stay here as long as they want, taking care of sick and wounded birds and other wild animals like turtles, hedgehogs and hares.

A big white bird on the water

A pelical

2. Take care of elephants in Thailand

In 60 km from the city of Chiang Mai in Thailand at the edge of the rainforest, the Elephant Nature Park is located. This place is a shelter for the wounded, neglected and orphaned elephants.

The founder of the Elephant Nature Park is a person named Sangduen “Lek” Chailert. This little woman has been training and rehabilitating elephants for more than 20 years. Sangduen’s father spent his whole life in the jungle and passed his daughter the knowledge of how to maintain a balance between animals and humans.

The Elephant Nature Park is one of the few places in Thailand where elephants live freely and feel protected from the cruelty of daily tourist excursions or performances in the circus. Professional veterinarians and volunteers nurse and take care of the animals all year around. Thanks to a large territory, animals feel free and return to their normal life very quickly. Elephants become calmer and show interest in games.

This elephant paradise constantly needs the help of volunteers. As a volunteer, you will feed, bathe and take care of injured animals. In addition, volunteers look after a small zoo, which includes warthogs, water buffaloes, cats and dogs.

And touching a woman

Elephant Nature Park

3. Become a part of the giant panda’s life in China

Bifengxia Panda Reserve is the largest in the world with over 80 animals living there. Formed in 2003, the nursery became a real paradise for giant pandas and the national treasure of China. Its main goal is to breed animals and provide a temporary shelter to pandas brought from their natural habitat.

The territory of the reserve is covered with dense forests with many waterfalls and other scenic places. The animals are given the opportunity to stay in an environment close to wildlife before they will be transported to their native forests and mountains.

Bifengxia Panda Reserve offers volunteer programs, which give its participants a unique experience of communicating with giant pandas. The volunteers are fully involved in the work of the reserve’s staff, which is increasing the population of giant pandas. By the way, in the recent years, Bifengxia Panda Reserve was able to double the population of these animals. The main tasks of the volunteer include cleaning the territory, preparing food (apples, special bread, carrots, and, of course, their favorite bamboo), feeding and caring for adults and baby pandas, as well as monitoring the behavior of pandas and participating in research.

A panda climbing a tree

A panda in Bifengxia Panda Reserve

4. Feel the freedom with wild horses in the USA

Return to Freedom Reserve is one of the private nature conservation areas in the US. It is located in the wine region of California. Here in a vast territory wild horses have a complete freedom of movement and live in the conditions, which correspond to their natural habitat. In the Return to Freedom sanctuary, horses are able to form “families” in a natural way, which increases the population of these graceful animals.

Volunteers from all over the world are invited to Return to Freedom Reserve to assist with keeping this place running smoothly. The sanctuary has a lot of volunteer opportunities to fit any schedule. You can either come for a couple of hours or stay on site for several weeks.

The job can be hard and dirty, but there are some joyful moments that dominate fatigue and all the difficulties. This is the joy of saving a small foal, left without a mother. Caring for animals and the search for a new loving “family” is the unique therapy and salvation from any depression.

Two brown and white horses

Wild horses

5. Protect endangered the Eurasian griffons in Croatia

In 2003 nature advocate Dr. Goran Susic created a rescue center for  Eurasian griffons, which are fighting for survival. The center is called Eco-centre Caput Insulae Beli and surrounded by dense forest on an island of Cres. The main goal of the center is the protection of the Eurasian griffons and cultural heritage of the island. Eco-centre Caput Insulae Beli also has a site where injured or poisoned griffons are going through recovery.

Numerous volunteers from Croatia and many other countries come to the center to help its staff protecting and healing birds. Volunteers are engaged in the cleaning and maintaining the sanctuary. They also take part in feeding the birds and observation Eurasian griffons on the cliffs, while collecting data about their behavior.

A wild brown and white bird

Eurasian griffons

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