Ready to Get Involved?
There are several ways you can get involved in conservation efforts ranging from rehabilitating injured animals to protecting them from harm. You can even provide help researching ways to bring back nearly-extinct species, assist with breeding programs, and work to bring new technologies into the field in communities or ecosystems that need it the most.
In some cases you can even raise funds for a charity that means a lot to you and earn yourself an amazing adventure in the process!
Find Your Skill Level
Whether you're a weekend warrior, avid hiker, or a veteran with a desire for adventure there's a new horizon to be explored and a new boundary to be pushed. Consider your skill level and then figure out how you're going to safely push those boundaries.
- Start with something that interests you and consider what challenges you're willing to put yourself through.
- Get in contact with a group that looks reliable and trustworthy (see the Organizations to Get Involved With section below for ideas!)
- Consider how long your adventure will last. Determining factors are: financial cost; physical and mental cost (stress); time spent away from work, life insurance policies, time spent away from family, friends, and other responsibilities.
- Make your plans and stick to it. When making arrangements make sure there's enough time to recover from travelling by having one or two "free" days after you arrive at your destination to make sure you're rested and ready for your adventure. Keeping to a strict schedule can keep you motivated and safe, but consider whether it's worth having a bit of free time each day so you don't stress yourself out. This also helps keep your schedule on time by not booking too many activities in a single day!
Choose Your Adventure
Individuals with the time and money to have an adventure of their own can volunteer with various organizations that offer an incredible behind-the-scenes look at the world of conservation for the cost of a modest donation. Or you can plan and execute your own adventure wherever your fascination takes you. A spring-time hike in the Swiss Alps? A bicycle ride down the French Riviera?
There are also organizations that allow part-time adventurers the opportunity to raise funds for a charity and in the process earn themselves a truly amazing adventure virtually anywhere in the world with like-minded people. What about summiting the three tallest mountains in Morocco in fewer than two weeks or discovering the wildlife of Nepal? Or participating in a 533 kilometer (330 mile) charity bicycle race through Vietnam?
More Than Just Animals
A lot of high-profile conservation efforts focus on animals: breeding, rehabilitation, protection, or environmental legislation. But conservation also means working with humans and investing in things for the benefit of our species. Organizations that work in related fields as animal conservation, but don't work directly with animals may provide opportunities to research genetics, study environmental impacts in diverse biomes, teach agricultural techniques in challenging climates, or improve the living standards of humans in rural areas. Volunteering also provides the opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals that might set you on the path to some new phase of your life you hadn't yet considered.
Working with the local peoples of a rural town can provide an incredible insight into their society, communication challenges, and a new respect for their traditions and their history. Improving the living standards of people in rural areas also gives them an opportunity to experience your culture and to find new ways of sustaining themselves and probably in a way that's more harmonious with their environment that most people in developed countries.
That could involve educating locals about modern agriculture techniques, bringing supplies to a village and building them a school, or working with a charity on deploying solar panels to a rural area. Some of these opportunities can range from 1-6 months, but they're well worth the chance to see and interact with remote parts and peoples of the world.
Organizations to Get Involved With
Disclaimer and Notice: The below list has been vetted based on actual charity status, responsiveness to inquiry by email or phone, and previous records of suitable conduct. Red Hawk Adventures takes no responsibility for the organization's continued charity status, activities, and is not affiliated with any of the websites or organizations listed below unless otherwise stated.
Red Hawk Adventures does not claim to be a representative of, or affiliated with, any organizations named below. Neither Red Hawk Adventures nor its contributors are legally or morally responsible or otherwise liable for any awesomeness acquired or injury sustained, personal or financial, by interacting with the aforementioned organizations. Use at your own risk and consult a physician if your sense of adventure is too extreme.
If you have a suggestion for a website or organization that should be featured here, please contact us.
Eco-Tourism & Humanitarianism
For a modest donation you can get your hands dirty and volunteer on the front lines of animal conservation or humanitarian aid.
- Free Burma Rangers - Conducts humanitarian relief operations and counseling in Burma (Myanmar) as well as provides educational, financial, emergency medical, and material assistance to oppressed and displaced people. The group also has an advocacy initiative to bring attention to Burma's oppressed ethnic groups, equips and trains locals, and develops reports on human rights abuses. Note that the FBR is operated by the Thai Christian Foundation, but does not proselytize or require volunteers to give or participate in religious activities. View their 2013 FBR Annual Report here.
- International Anti Poaching Foundation - The IAPF provides ranger training and certification for skilled Africans, but also provides volunteer opportunities of 2-4 weeks for eligible foreigners from all over the world through its Green Army programs in southern Africa. Part front-line conservation, and part eco-tourism adventure, the Green Army provides a behind-the-scenes pass into private game reserves, local towns, and receive instruction from highly trained experts in tracking, bushcraft, and ecology. Check the IAPF site for current programs.
- Save the Rhino International (SRI) - Registered as a charity in 1994, Save the Rhino International has several aspects to its conservation program that include anti-poaching, captive breeding, and environmental education and conservation. The Save the Rhino site doesn't list any specific conservation volunteer vacancies at the moment, but it does provide contact details for other, possibly affiliated groups offering work or volunteer opportunities in conservation areas, such as private game reserves and animal sanctuaries.
- Teaching Individuals and Families Independence though Enterprise (TIFIE) Humanitarian - Empowering local communities in Democratic Republic of Congo through education, food security, capital investment, business training, and health welfare TIFIE sponsors projects that provide communities the ability to create better opportunities for themselves and a lasting foundation on which to build success. Contact TIFIE for the latest projects and volunteer opportunities.
Fundraise your way to financing your own adventure! With the following charitable organizations, you can raise money for a great cause and earn yourself the majority of the cost of an adventure sponsored by the charity. Most of these charities require raising a certain amount of funds before you are eligible to participate in an event.
- Discover Adventure - Designing and operating their own challenges since 1994, Discover Adventure also helps other charities arrange special challenges for volunteers that have earned an adventure by raising a lot of money for their cause of choice. Take part in any of the challenges across South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. There are bicycle rides through some of the most scenic places in the world including from London, UK to Paris, France; along the Great Wall of China; and along the coast of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Or trek to famous sites like Machu Picchu in Peru; Ancient Petra in Jordan; Angkor Wat in Cambodia; and many more fascinating places.
- Mines Advisory Group International (or MAG America) - MAG has a number of programs to help those affected by regional conflicts and people living in countries contaminated by munitions such as mines and unexploded ordinance from past conflicts. This is a great charity to raise money for and the organizers work very closely with volunteers to get them started fundraising. After or during fundraising volunteers get the opportunity to choose an event to take part in such as summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania; running a marathon in London, UK; or bicycling through Sri Lanka. View their events page for more activities and how to get involved. Events are managed through the UK-branch, but are available to all nationalities.
Pay-as-you-go adventures that just happen to have a charitable aspect to them. Much more spontaneous and much more dangerous!
- Cool Earth & The Adventurists - It sounds like a great band name, but Cool Earth is also a great charity that's projects empower locals to save their rainforests and end deforestation. The Adventurists run the part of the program that gets volunteers the information they need to chart through own adventure (and maybe some tips to keep you safe along the way). You might have heard of the Mongol Rally: a 16,000 kilometer (10,000 mile) race from the United Kingdom to Mongolia in pitifully small vehicles designed for nothing more challenging than a run to the pub. But there are other challenges, too, such as the 1000km horse race through Mongolia and the 3,500km race through India in only a tuk tuk. Raise at least £1000 for charity and you will be eligible to enter. The rest is up to you. Buy your supplies (including a car, if applicable), do the paperwork for visas, find some friends, chart your course, and see if you survive. You'll undoubtedly make some friends along the way and have a hell of a time doing it. See all the available events at The Adventurists website.
Notice: Red Hawk Adventures does not claim to be a representative of, or affiliated with any organizations named above. Neither Red Hawk Adventures nor its contributors are legally or morally responsible or otherwise liable for any awesomeness acquired or injury sustained, personal or financial, by interacting with the aforementioned organizations. Use at your own risk and consult a doctor if your sense of adventure is too extreme.
Learn & Support
To learn more about the importance of conservation as a method to protect the world’s wildlife and improve standards of living for humans please visit the Objectives page. If you're ready to make a commitment to preserving our wildlife please take a look at the Conservation Organizations & Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers featured on the Conservation Groups page for organizations you can support. If you're ready to get involved in your own adventure then jump over to the Get Involved page.