If you are a true animal lover and are thinking of heading off on a Gap Year or Career Break then participating as a volunteer on an African Wildlife Rehabilitation centre could be the perfect choice for you.
Many people dream to work with animals, however this cannot be reality for most. So if you are one of many who have not fulfilled a lifelong dream why not consider a volunteer project in South Africa that will get you up close and personal to some of the worlds most endangered species. South Africa is home to some amazing wildlife and although there are many national parks and conservation reserves for these animals to roam wild, from time to time injury or sickness forces them to be treated at rehab centres.
As part of your volunteer programme to work with animals you will help with the ongoing care of sick and injured wildlife from all corners of Africa. Once the sick and injured wildlife have been nurtured back to health you may have the chance to help reintroduce them back into the wild. For those creatures that are seriously injured or not able to survive in the wild, the decision is made to give them long term sanction at the centres and offered round the clock care. Some participants have even been encouraged to step in as acting mothers and fathers for some of the orphaned wildlife at the centres. It is not uncommon to have to take your bay rhino out for a 3 hour walk to ensure it has had enough exercise for the day before heading back to hand feed it nutritious bottled milk.
Some of the typical activities you can expect to get involved in when you work with animals are:
-Cleaning and maintenance of enclosures and habitats. It is important that the living areas for the wildlife are well cared for; this is a paramount responsibility for most volunteers.
-Feeding and hand rearing of orphaned wildlife. This is the more high profile work and the ultimate reward when you work with animals.
-Assisting with capture and relocation of endangered species
-Working alongside wildlife veterinarians with various procedures
-Treating and caring for injured wildlife that are brought to the centres
The great thing about wildlife work with animals is that no day is ever the same. The activities that you will take part in will vary massively due to the unpredictability of wildlife and the nature of the rehab centres that you will be working at.
Its not just about working with animals, you will also have the opportunity to explore the local surroundings. Your free time over the weekends can be used to venture out and see some of the magnificent sites that South Africa has to offer, some of the activities you can participate in range from Safaris, Bungee Jumping, Skydiving, Shark Cage diving and much more.
Deciding to work with animals in South Africa will be a truly life changing experience and will open your eyes to exciting and meaningful travel.