Volunteer at the world renowned Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, where you will play a vital role helping with the rehabilitation of some of the 200 animals that currently call the centre home. This award winning centre aims to release as many animals back into the wild as possible and currently looks after monkeys, lions, antelope and more.
The first of its kind, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust started back in 2009 and has since grown into Malawi’s leading wildlife charity, with projects that address both welfare and conservation challenges across the country.
Environment management – If you are also interested in conservation management, you can help with the important research whereby the data gathered helps to provide an indication on the surrounding environment’s health. This can include ecological surveys, mammal censuses and the afforestation project.
Volunteers are critical across all areas of the rescue and rehabilitation process, from orphan care and animal husbandry (feeding, cleaning, etc) to integrations, observations and re-introductions. Most of this work is done from the Wildlife Centre whose services are in great demand given that it is Malawi’s only wildlife sanctuary.
There were 126 rescues and 220 animals under rehabilitation last year with a total of 45 animals released. The Wildlife Centre’s many accreditations reflect its reputation as one of Africa’s most respected sanctuaries, which also means you will be learning ‘best practice’ during your time with us.
There will be plenty of opportunities to gain experience across other areas of the programme. This can include; supporting the team delivering education programmes both at the wildlife centre and in local communities, carrying out wildlife research in an effort to have a better understanding on the best conservation practices and to help raise awareness about conservation within Malawi.
This awarding-winning centre is highly regarded within the international welfare and conservation worlds and is the only sanctuary in the world to have obtained all three accreditations from the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance, the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and the Born Free Foundation PAW scheme – all reflecting the highest of welfare and operational standards.
There is no typical working day as everything is dictated by the wildlife. Working hours are completely dependent on the animals currently within the centre and on the level of care they need. Ideally, you will work from 8am until 5pm, but during busy periods (such as orphan season feeds) you will be scheduled to help during unsociable hours – so expect some long days and maybe even a night shift!
Orphan and animal care – You will be working alongside the local staff where you will assist in cleaning, feeding, hand-rearing baby orphans and provide enrichment to those that need it. Please note we operate a strict hands-off policy, except in special circumstances where orphans need attention and round-the-clock care to ensure they have the best chance of survival.
Rehabilitation and care – Helping the dedicated animal care manager, you will play an important role to rehabilitate rescued animals and help them settle into new groups. Not only do these animals need to be fed and cared for, but also monitored to collect essential data to ensure their safe release. You may be lucky enough to have the opportunity to help with the release of some animals, however, this is totally dependent on whether or not any are scheduled.
Centre maintenance – Another vital part to the centre is to help with construction and maintenance around the project site. This can include repairing enclosures, building and painting so make sure you’re prepared to get stuck in.
Education and community outreach – You will get to assist with guided tours for the locals for them to gain a better understanding on the importance of wildlife conservation. Along with the outreach manager, you may also get to visit local communities where you can help continue the great work on the existing projects such as the Learning Through Wildlife adult-literacy programme and the Malambe Juice Co-operative.
The volunteer accommodation is right in the middle of the sanctuary, where you are surrounded by all of the animals. There is no better way of waking up than hearing a lion roar and having monkeys playing outside your bedroom window!
The reserve includes a river, woods and a lovely 4km walking / running trail, meaning you can experience the wild side of Africa and yet you are still close enough to the city to enjoy some of the benefits.
You will be sleeping in mixed dorm-style bedrooms that are basic, but clean and comfortable. There are western bathroom facilities that provide hot water.
There is a great garden that is ideal for relaxing in the evenings and on your days off.
Wifi – Yes (small fee)
People per room – Up to 2
Single sex rooms – No
Nearest ATM & shops – 20 minute drive
Airport Transfers – 90 minutes
The local chef provides three meals per day which is a mix of international and local dishes (mainly vegetarian). You can expect some of the following meals:
Breakfast – Cereals, toast, muesli, yoghurt, muffins, cooked breakfast (once a week)
Lunch – Sandwiches, wraps, salads, quiche, burgers, chips
Dinner – Macaroni and cheese, roasted chicken, vegetables, traditional meals
Bottled water and soft drinks will need to be purchased from local trading stores that are open daily.
What are the requirements to join?
We welcome all volunteers from any background, religion and nationality, as long as you have no criminal convictions and are able to supply a clean criminal background check. In order to join the programme you need to be at least 18 years old on the programme start date.
Individuals need to have a good level / understanding of English but it does not need to be your first language. As some programmes can be quite strenuous, we recommend that you should be physically fit.
What date should I arrive and leave?
You should arrive to Lilongwe Kamuzu International Airport (LLW) on your selected start date, being any Tuesday. You will be met by one of our local team members who will be holding a named sign and will then transport you to the project site.
On the last day of your programme you will be taken back to Lilongwe Airport. All airport transfers are included within the programme fee.
Are there any age restrictions for solo travellers?
The only age restriction in place is that you have to be at least 16 years old before your programme start date. Anyone over this age is welcome. Generally the average age range for our programmes is 18 – 25, although this is by no means definitive and we regularly have volunteers of all ages.
What is the minimum age for travelling with my family?
If you are travelling with family and at least one member is aged 18 years old or over, then we welcome anyone from 13 years and up.
When should I apply for the programme?
You can apply for this programme at anytime, however we advise all volunteers to apply as soon as possible to have the best chances of securing your placement on your selected dates.
Generally speaking, you need to book at least 60 days before your programme start date, although if you are wanting to apply after this, please contact us and we will do our best.
What duration would you recommend?
On gaining feedback, we believe 4 weeks is the ideal time to get settled in and really involved in the placement. This also allows you to make the most of free time and explore the local areas and participate in any activities.
Can I volunteer if I live outside of the UK?
Yes of course. We welcome volunteers from around the world, no matter how far away from the programmes you are.
The majority of volunteers that we host come from the UK, US, Canada and Australia.
Can I go with my friend / partner?
You can travel and volunteer with friends, family and / or your partner.
If you are wanting to request to stay in the same accommodation please outline this in the special requirements section within the application form.
Is it safe to travel to these destinations?
We regularly visit and participate in each and every one of the programmes we offer to rigorously check all aspects of the project and accommodation are safe and that all procedures are being followed. These include but are not limited to checking the living conditions within the volunteer accommodations, checking the neighbourhoods you’ll be staying in, tasting the food you’ll be eating and going on any weekend trips recommended by us or our local team.
We monitor the stability of all of our volunteer destinations on a daily basis and have constant contact with our overseas teams to ensure that our volunteers are safe.
All volunteers will receive a comprehensive volunteer handbook when you choose to join us on one of our programmes. This detailed document addresses a large range of issues such as health, safety, visas, as well as going into details about local cultures and traditions.
When you arrive in-country, you will be given a safety briefing during your orientation that will cover things like emergency procedures, how to use local transport and any cultural differences.
Our in-country team are on hand to help with any issues or to answer any questions and please do not forget that our UK office is available 24/7 in case of any rare emergencies.
While we can never guarantee your volunteer experience will be 100% trouble free, we have taken all of the necessary precautions to minimise all risks and to ensure the programme is as safe as possible.
Before You Depart
When do I pay?
To confirm and guarantee your placement on one of our programmes, you need to pay the registration fee of $129 within 7 days of receiving confirmation that your application was successful. The remaining balance is then due no less than 60 days prior to your programme start date.
Payments can be done all at once or be spread out over several months and can be paid via BACS (bank transfer). We do accept additional payment methods such as debit and credit cards, although there may be additional fees.
Do I need any vaccinations and / or malaria tablets?
As we are not trained medical experts we cannot tell you exactly what vaccinations or other medication you may need for your trip. You will need to consult with your local doctors or travel clinic.
You can also find additional information on the NHS Fit For Travel website.
How do I arrange my flights?
All flights need to be booked by you, although we can point you in the right direction on where you may be able to find the best prices.
Before booking any flights, we strongly recommend that you wait to have confirmation that your application was successful.
How do I arrange my travel insurance?
We have teamed up with Endsleigh to create an affordable and comprehensive travel insurance policy that is suitable for all of the programmes we offer. You will receive information about this policy along with your volunteer handbook.
If you decide to purchase your travel insurance from an alternative provider, please ensure it covers you for everything you will be doing. Adequate travel insurance must be in place no less than 60 days before your programme start date. Without proof of this insurance, we will not be able to accept you onto the programme.
When will I receive my volunteer handbook?
You will receive a welcome email from us as soon as you have paid the registration fee and your placement has been confirmed. The welcome email will include the volunteer handbook that provides a wealth of information that will help you better understand all aspects of your upcoming trip as well as details about our insurance policy.
Please note, all material is sent via email and hard copies cannot be sent.
On Your Trip
Can I arrange a private room?
The majority of our accommodation only offers shared rooms that are usually same-sex. However, if you would prefer a private room please let us know and we will at least try for you.
Can you cater for my dietary requirements?
We will try our best to cater for any dietary requirements. When you submit your application please include any required details within the dietary section and we will liaise with our local coordinators.
Are there any public holidays that would affect the project?
Although we try to be as clear as possible of all holidays that affect project availability, due to the nature of some countries, holidays can often be sporadic or prone to change.
If such a holiday falls when you are on your placement, this is generally a good time to experience unique festivities where you can join in with the locals.
What is the dress code at the projects?
We ask that all volunteers take the approach of a smart and responsible image during your time in the communities and on projects. It is best to also take some older clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
Generally, it is best to avoid tight and very short clothing and anything that may have offensive slogans on it. It’s recommended that you take some nicer clothes for weekends or any free time you may have.
We do not wish to impose strict regulations, however we do ask that you respect the local culture and do your best to adhere to the clothing guidelines within the volunteer handbook.
How much spending money will I need?
For general expenses and some travelling, you should find that $50 – $100 per week is sufficient. However, this can vary greatly depending on the amount of activities or trips you do and if you are eating out during the week.
Will I be able to travel whilst on the programme?
There should be plenty of time to travel while on your placement and we actively encourage that you do! The local coordinators will be able to give you lots of travel tips and provide any help needed for your independent adventure.
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