How far can you volunteer?
How far can you volunteer?
There are numerous ways to get involved in the natural world, and they enable you to reach out and make a difference from sitting at home to helping an animal on the other side of the world. Wherever you are, you can make a difference.
Your local area
Even if you don’t want to do the hands-on stuff e.g. handling the animals themselves and caring for their daily needs such as mucking out, there will always be things to do. If not today, there could be next week. Covid has made things very difficult for charities but you can at least enquire, do some fundraising, spread the word...
Many charities have a national body, acting as umbrella to a good many regional off-shoots. The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts is a very good example – it has 47 Wildlife Trusts throughout the UK operating under its wing. The RSPCA, Cats Protection, Blue Cross and Dogs Trust all have local branches or rescue centres around the country. The Brooke has 22 local fundraising groups around the UK plus one in New Zealand and in Australia, raising money for working animals in very poor countries around the world. So there’s plenty happening around your region, as well as in your locality.
One way to help is to support those businesses which are animal friendly. An example is Green People. They sell organic beauty products, and they work in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society to ensure the products they make are marine friendly. You can join in national campaigns – such as the Marine Conservation Society’s Don’t Let Go campaign and then see what you can do to raise awareness of it in your local area. There’s Responsible Travel who list ethical holidays. Both organisations have taken part in environmentally active team building days. As an election approaches, ask your MP or local political parties what they will do to help wildlife and animal welfare. And there are plenty of petitions (or you can start one) putting pressure on businesses and government to do the right thing for animal welfare.
It’s far easier now to make a difference to animals on the other side of the world, thanks to the internet, but also because the world is a smaller place and what goes around, comes around. Give up plastic, and that’s one less piece to potentially end up in our oceans. Give up plastic bags in Brighton, and they are less likely to drift off in the sea and end up thousands of miles from home. Leave the car behind and you’ll help the polar bear. It’s back to lifestyle habits again. We all need to do what we can but we can surely be encouraged by the fact there are a lot of collective efforts we can also join in to make a difference.
Volunteer on holiday
Of course you can also head off on a volunteer holiday, helping bears in Romania, cheetahs in Namibia, preserving rainforest in Brazil.
What about helping rescued bears at a bear sanctuary?
Or being a Bear Carer (which you can do from a distance)?
Check out Free the Bears' website
image © Free the Bears
You can go on a wildlife holiday, showing governments and locals that you want to go and see their wildlife, so it’s important to preserve it. Obviously we are in strange and difficult times because of covid, but you can still start planning and saving for volunteer holidays, even if they aren't happening at the moment. See what support you can give from a distance.
Making a donation
And of course, we can all donate. We can give our support to petitions and campaigns, donate money to causes, give a gift of an acre to save the rainforest, support an appeal. There is no doubt about it, every donation really helps to save wildlife and you can’t get around that fact. Even £2 will help. It’s important to remember that while £2 or $2 isn’t a lot in the UK or US, it is a huge amount of money in other parts of the world.
You may never see those you work to help…
A key part of looking after wildlife and doing your bit through volunteering involves looking after the places in which they live. You may not even see an animal when you volunteer – they may be a bit shy and elusive, or only come out at night. They maybe on the other side of the world. Becoming a nature detective can be a great way to discover who has been visiting your garden while you’ve been asleep in your bed or watching TV.
And finally, there’s nothing like the feel good factor when you do something for somebody else. It makes you want to do it again, and again, and again, and each time you get a warm glow inside.