Sourced from The Getaway Blog
A rather popular trend among Europeans, Americans and so forth is that of Volunteer Tourism (or Voluntourism). Twenty-somethings just love to come to South Africa and spend a month or three volunteering at a reserve or rehabilitation centre, experiencing the country while they’re at it.
This is fantastic for our conservation organisations because they’re fully booked, months in advance, with people who don’t mind picking up pooh and answering the same visitor questions over and over again, just so they can get a chance to feed the baby monkeys or play with the cheetah cubs.
Unfortunately for locals, this giant demand for volunteering opportunities has created a huge market for agencies who do volunteer placements. These charge up to R30 000 per month to volunteer and it’s certain that most South Africans can’t afford this.
So, here are a few organisations around the Western Cape where you can become either a part-time or full-time volunteer without being charged for your services.
Formerly situated on Spier’s grounds, this ambassador cheetah centre educates communities and visitors about the cheetah’s endangerment and raises funds for their very successful Anatolian Shepherd Dog breeding and placement programme. They’re moving to Paardevlei, just across from Somerset Mall, and they welcome part-time and full-time volunteers who like the outdoors and the big cats.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org , www.cheetah.co.za
Well known for being stars when it comes to saving oiled penguins, they’re committed to all the threatened sea birds, whether oiled, injured or ill and they do everything they can to rehabilitate them and release them back into the wild. They have limited permanent staff and welcome volunteers who show a more long-term commitment, teaching them as much as they’d like to know about sea birds.
Two Oceans Aquarium
A renowned attraction in Cape Town, this magical place is not only there for our and the children’s entertainment. They’re also an education and environmental facility and boast Africa’s first MSC approved restaurant (meaning that all the fish they serve is sustainable). They welcome local volunteers at no charge, but they have to do a basic training session first and commit to at least one Saturday per month. Check their website for dates of upcoming training.
Email email@example.com , www.aquarium.co.za
Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary in Plettenberg Bay
This popular attraction along the Garden Route rehabilitates and frees previously captured animals and is now home to a wide range of primates – all happily living in a wide open forested area. They welcome full-time volunteers to stay for at least one month and help out with a range of tasks. And what’s more, if they have space in their volunteer house, they will accommodate you for free. Monkeyland has also receintly taken over Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary in Mossel Bay. This big cat sanctuary will move to Plettenberg Bay towards the latter part of 2012. Jukani also accepts volunteers.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com , www.monkeyland.co.za
www.birdsofeden.co.za and www.tamhf.org.za
Volunteer Wildlife Services
These guys aren’t directly involved in rehabilitating wildlife, but they serve an incredibly important role when it comes to the smaller animals that live against the mountain and in the forests and grasslands. They fight fires in order to protect not only the environment, but also the small animals that aren’t fast enough to escape the runaway blazes. Between March and May each year they recruit new fire fighters, but they also have volunteering positions on the more logistical and operational side of things. So if you enjoy a bit of wildlife-focused admin in your free time contact them.
Email: Newlands firstname.lastname@example.org , Jonkershoek email@example.com , South Peninsula firstname.lastname@example.org
As long as you’re prepared to get your hands dirty at times, these opportunities are incredibly rewarding, not only for students, but anyone with a love and a passion for wildlife.