I am just about to leave my role at BBC Worldwide to travel for the next 12 months volunteering at various animal charities and NGO's across the world. I am travelling to not only give my time to help these charities and NGO's continue their fantastic work but to also gain an understanding of the issues that are affecting our natural world currently such as animal trafficking, the bushmeat trade and human conflict. Not only do I want to give my time to them whilst I am volunteering but I aim to try to continue to help them when I have left via my photography, website and blog. Below are details of where I will be travelling and the projects I will be involved in.
Forest Animal Rescue, Ocala National Forest. Florida, USA – Sept to Dec 2013
Forest Animal Rescue (founded in 1998) is a lifetime care sanctuary for non-releasable wild animals. The animals in the sanctuary range from big cats to bears, wolves, primates, bats and more they have been confiscated by authorities, used in research, abandoned to starve or have been attempted pets.
The animals that are rescued are never bred, sold or exploited in any way. The sanctuary is fully accredited by the Animal Sanctuary Association, licensed and inspected by State and Federal Authorities.
The sanctuary has recently moved to a new location in 80 acres of wooded land surrounded by the Ocala National Forest. I will be helping to build the new sanctuary, the work will include building new enclosures, clearing forest, laying power cables, digging wells, preparing food for the animals and developing enrichment programmes.
La Senda Verde Animal Refuge – Yungas Bolivia – Jan to April 2014
La Senda Verde was established in 2003 as a project in ecotourism which evolved into a vital link in warning all of the effects of animal trafficking in the region of Yungas, and the north of the country. Over the past four years, illegal animal trafficking has drastically increased in Bolivia. As a result, the animal population at La Senda Verde has more than quadrupled in the past three years to approximately 350 animals.
I will be working with two Spectacled Bears (Tremarctos ornatus) whilst at La Senda Verde. Spectacled bears get their name from the light coloured rings around their eyes that make some of the bears look like they are wearing glasses. These shy bears are the only species that live in South America. Little is known about these rare bears because of a lack of research and the remoteness of the areas where they live. In 1975 the spectacled bear was listed on Appendix I on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which means that the international trade in the species was prohibited from that time forward. Unfortunately, enforcement has been lacking and rarely supported by local personnel. Therefore, the spectacled bear is continually threatened by the parts trade and human encroachment.
Ape Action Africa – Mefou National Park, Cameroon – April to June 2014
Ape Action Africa is committed to ape conservation in Africa - protecting Cameroon’s great apes through direct action, including rescuing orphaned gorillas, chimpanzees and monkeys, giving them a safe forest sanctuary home where they can live with their own kind and to work with communities to develop long-term solutions to ensure their survival in the wild. Currently there are over 320 primates including 110 chimps and 21 gorillas.
Ape Action Africa has three strands to its work and I will be involved in all of these strands whilst living in Mefou National Park.
- To provide sanctuary for individual, endangered primates orphaned by the illegal bushmeat and pet trades.
- To actively rescue orphaned primates providing rehabilitation and long term care in a protected environment.
- To work closely with the Cameroonian people to protect their natural heritage through education and social support.
Game Rangers International - Camp Phoenix, Kafue National Park, Zambia – July 2014
Game Rangers International (GRI) is a non-profit Zambian NGO, established in 2007, with critical and on-going support from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. Its focus is currently within Kafue National Park with the aim of directly supporting conservation of the park, its animals, ecosystems and surrounding communities. I will be working at the Elephant Orphanage Project to rescue, rehabilitate and release orphaned elephants back into the wild. The orphanage was established to offer sanctuary for vulnerable and abandoned elephant calves, the victims of poaching and human conflict.
My work will possibly include teaching support in nearby villages, field research projects within the national park, hands on camp developments, community development and outreach initiatives as well as elephant Husbandry and Welfare, which may include: elephant feedings, food preparations, cleaning elephant stalls, photography, data collection and support during orphan rescue missions and assisting with veterinary visits.
IAR Orangutan Project, Ketapang, West Kalimantan, Indonesia – Aug 2014
The aim of International Animal Rescue is to come to the aid of suffering animals around the world, and wherever possible return rescued animals to their natural environment or provide permanent sanctuary for animals that can no longer survive in the wild. In 2010 IAR drew up plans to construct an Orangutan rehabilitation centre in Ketapang. The sole aim for this centre is to house, rehabilitate and release 100 orangutans back into the wild. Phase 1 was completed in early 2013, with Phase 2 looking to build more enclosures to house Orangutan as well as administrative infrastructure.
This Orangutan project is one of the biggest and most necessary Orangutan rehabilitation projects to happen in Indonesia. I will be working in IAR’s temporary wildlife conservation and rescue centre in Ketapang, West Kalimantan and helping to construct the much needed new centre. At the temporary centre I will be helping the staff with enrichment for the orangutans which involves improving their surroundings to stimulate their physical and mental health and also will include laying the necessary roads / building enclosures, holding cages and erecting electric fences and walls.
If anyone wants further information regarding these projects please do not hesitate to contact me.
Any money that I raise via fundraising will go directly to the charity or NGO, my personal expenses such as flights, insurance, health checks or medication and equipment etc I am funding myself. This money will all go in country to the individual charities / NGOs that I am working with. Any amount of money can make a difference so any donation will be extremely gratefully received.
Thanks for reading,