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Published November 25th 2014
Holiday with the wildlife
What do you like to do on holiday? Visit tropical islands? Go snorkelling, scuba diving or whale watching? How about a safari in Africa, discovering the Amazon rainforest or hiking through the Canadian wilderness?
What if the greatest selection of amazing experiences and adventures was available to you with a greater purpose than just the travel?
In Australia and all around the world, there are numerous organisations seeking help with conservation activities. The work varies and might include tasks such as surveying animal populations, observing behaviour, recording and organizing data and maintaining habitat. Activities can be land or water based and may involve the local flora, fauna or both.
Commitments range from a day to months and you generally pay your own way as well as offering your labour and skills. You don't usually need any special abilities except a reasonable level of health and fitness. Adaptability is also useful as some of the projects are in remote areas, your accommodation may be basic and you'll likely need to pitch in and help with the chores of everyday living.
The major benefits are that aside from helping to conserve the world's flora and fauna, you often have access to the most amazing places and resources that would not otherwise be available. Plus, you have the inside track on learning from the experts, the leaders and scientists, as part of the adventure.
An international environmental charity, Earthwatch offers individuals, corporations, teachers and students opportunities to work with their scientists for the good of the earth. Their mission is to "engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment." Earthwatch has won numerous awards, most recently being honoured in the 2014 World Tourism Awards.
Earthwatch offer some truly epic expeditions ranging from observing turtles in the Bahamas to tracking chimps through the trees in Uganda. Their research expeditions fall into four categories: Wildlife & Ecosystems, Archaeology & Culture, Climate Change and Ocean Health. For more information see their expeditions program.
GVI run more than 150 community and conservation volunteering projects across the world. GVI won "Best Volunteering Organisation" in the 2011 Responsible Tourism Awards. All the way from working with elephants in Thailand to tracking animals through the veld in Africa and sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica there's a wide range of projects in the areas of Wildlife and Marine Conservation and Animal Care. See their volunteer programs for more information.
There are many more organisations which can help organise volunteer trips, such as Volunteer Global, Globalteer and GoEco. Another option is researching the local conservation organisations in the area you want to go to - or in your own local area.
If you like travelling, wildlife, conservation and having amazing experiences whilst making friends and doing good, eco voluntouring is worth considering when you plan your next holiday.