Animals / travel / Wildlife

The best places to Volunteer with animals in Africa

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There is no shortage of wildlife across Africa, which is why it is one of my go to destinations for volunteering. I was planning on just concentrating on South Africa but there are so many places to volunteer with animals in Africa, many including the Big Five I wanted to include more from across the continent.

Before I start sharing with you, I do want to mention how important it is to do your research when volunteering in Africa. Volunteering your time is an incredibly selfless thing to do, so it is important that you research correctly to ensure your time is not contributing to the canned hunting trade or something similar. I recommend visiting Volunteers in Africa beware on Facebook when researching where to volunteer with animals in Africa.

south africa

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The Elephant Nature Park

The Best places to volunteer with animals in Africa

Nursing an orphaned baboon at CARE in South Africa, a great place to volunteer with animals in Africa.

C.A.R.E – The Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education 

The place I spent two life-changing weeks at the beginning of this year;  primarily a Chacma baboon rehabilitation centre, this place will steal your heart.  Based in Phalaborwa, South Africa, the centre surroundings were everything I dreamed Africa looked like and more. The wonderful people who run this centre not only tirelessly rehabilitating baboons 365 days a year they are also going above and beyond to raise a positive profile for the mischievous creatures to the people of South Africa.

Lilongwe Wildlife Centre

Carnivores, primates, reptiles and ungulates, Lilongwe helps and rehabilitates them all. Based in Malawi, Lilongwe works with the Born Free foundation and relies on the help of volunteers to help keep the centre running.
While this centre is particularly expensive to volunteer at I have heard nothing but incredible things and it is on my list of places to go.


The Vervet Monkey Foundation

Another primate unfortunately seen as vermin in South Africa, the centre is home to multiple cheeky orphans who are raised until release back into the wild. I have heard these little guys are non-stop bundles of energy and therefore a brilliant place to learn about primate behaviour.

If you are fan of seeing wildlife around the world you may want to check out my podcast – The Wildlife Tourist.

The Wildlife Tourist is a podcast for animal lovers. On each episode, we discuss a different destination popular for seeing wildlife or different ways you can interact with animals abroad.

Mission Rabies

Mission Rabies is incredibly well-known in the Veterinary industry and thankfully the charities tireless work is starting to become well-known in other areas too. Their aim is to eradicate rabies across the world, tragically rabies is still rife in less developed countries, affecting people and animals. Across the world 100 children die every day because of rabies, this statistic  haunts me, in 2016 how is this still happening?

Each year Mission Rabies takes groups of volunteers on vaccination drives across Africa to vaccinate dogs against rabies, whilst also importantly educating children on how to behave with dogs to avoid getting bitten. (Mission Rabies also has drives in India and Sri Lanka)

The Wildlife Project Zambia  (Currently veterinary only)

Located in the Kafue National Park, the purpose-built vet centre is there to respond to park emergencies – from orphans to snare poaching injuries. The team also work closely with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife to help with the release of illegally captured wildlife such as the critically injured Pangolins.

Never heard of a Pangolin? Not many people have, these stunning creatures are slowly going extinct due to poaching.
African elephants

Moholoholo rehabilitation centre

This centre was featured heavily on the ITV series ‘Paul O’Grady’s animal orphans’ ( Which everyone should watch, it was perfect), based on the border’s of the Kruger National Park this is another centre that cares for all species.

Like Longliwe, it is expensive to volunteer here, however, the people I know who have been there worked closely with Rhinos, Giraffes and all other kinds of big species (It is important to remember nothing is guaranteed, so you cannot go expecting to work with a certain species).


The SA foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, situated along the beautiful coastline of Cape town, this centre care for the avian species. The most famous species being the adorable injured penguins from Boulder’s Beach. Having worked with penguins during my time at London Zoo, I know just how troublesome yet adorable these critters can be and would love to spend some more time nursing them.

Unless stated, there are opportunities for anyone to volunteer at these centres, I visit as a Veterinary Nurse but you do not need animal experience as all skills are useful to charities, while your working day may be  different you will still receive hands-on time with the animals (as long as it is safe and beneficial to the animal’s welfare).

Volunteering with animals in Africa is a life-changing experience, one I seem to recommend on a daily basis.

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  • Hayley
    August 12, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    That pangolin is so cute! Did you find that all your various voluntary work with different animals was super beneficial to your career?

    • Sam
      August 14, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      For the field of Veterinary nursing I want to go into later in my career I am hoping it will! To work with wildlife and exotics you need to gain a lot of experience first, so fingers crossed!


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