I wanted to start a new series entitled ‘Volunteering with animals in..’ as lately people have started asking me for my recommendations (which I love!). Volunteering is an amazing thing to do, for so many different reasons and can be arranged much easier (and cheaper) than you may think, whether you make it part of your travelling plans or take a trip for the sole purpose of volunteering at a centre, hopefully these posts will inspire you with places you may want to help out. In these posts I will only recommend places that I have visited myself or that friends have, mainly for your safety but also to ensure that your hard efforts are supporting projects with the best intentions. If a place is not mentioned it does not necessarily mean it is unsafe or bad, it may just mean I do not know anyone that has visited, but if you are considering one that is not on the list please feel free to ask me and I will see what I can find out.
First up: Thailand!
Elephant nature park, Chiang Mai: I can not recommend this place enough, I have a whole post about it here. I know I constantly go on about not riding the Elephants in Thailand (or anywhere) but I know after a visit here you will be the same. At the ENP you can choose to either volunteer with Elephants or at the on site Dog rescue centre.
Lanta Animal Welfare, Koh Lanta: A centre for stray cats and dogs with a big focus on neutering, based on the beautiful island of Koh Lanta which is said to be a beautiful place to scuba dive on your time off.Soi Dog Foundation, Phuket: I know many Vets and Vet Nurses who have volunteered here to help with neutering projects, all of them have such wonderful things to say about the Soi Dog foundation. You do not need veterinary experience to volunteer either, you can volunteer in the shelter helping to look after and socialise the stray dogs (and occasional cats).
Wildlife Friends Foundation Trust, Petchaburi: WFFT rehabilitate all kinds of wildlife from Gibbons to Macaques to crocodiles, this place has been near the top of my list of places to visit for a long time and hopefully I will make it there one day. The man who runs this centre was one of the main people who fought tirelessly to get Tiger Temple closed down.
Baan Unrak Animal Sanctuary, Kanchanaburi : Based in a quiet village in North West Thailand, it is one of the lesser known charities, but again I have heard good things, Baan Unrak gives street dogs and cats a second chance at life.
Koh Tao Animal Clinic, Koh Tao : Predominately street cats and dogs, set on the incredibly stunning island of Koh Tao.
Phangan Animal Care’PACS’, Koh Phangan: Provide free care to the stray, temple and wildlife of the island as well playing a big role in educating responsible pet ownership.
Volunteering is not a decision to take lightly, it is incredibly hard work – emotionally and physically. You will be tired and there is a strong chance that you will see some awful upsetting things but it is extremely rewarding and you will be changing the lives of the animals in your care for the better. Thailand is a great place to start your volunteering journey; the flight prices are reasonable at most times of the year, Thai people are extremely welcoming and there is currently a massive western tourism industry over there. Thailand is a safe place if you are sensible.
‘ I always thought that someone should do something about that.. then I realised I am that someone’ –
Next up: South Africa!