It may seem like a challenge to find an African vacation that allows you to live it up, not blow your budget AND help preserve endangered species, but it is indeed possible.
From helping to stop rhino poaching to protecting against deforestation, there are many ways to help out while having a satisfying holiday. Here are 13 organizations that offer travelers ways to help protect endangered species in Africa while having fun and learning something.
This one falls more in the “voluntourism” category, rather than being strictly leisure-oriented. GoEco offers a carefully vetted selection of humanitarian, development, education and wildlife volunteer projects in countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana, Kenya and the Seychelles. Projects last from two to eight weeks, and start at US$850. Multiple projects can be scheduled back-to-back if you are interested in staying longer.
2. The Bodhi Tree Foundation
This foundation works with African travel companies to save wildlife. Its main focus is the S.A.F.E Campaign to save elephants. S.A.F.E. promotes tours that will film and photograph elephants without disturbing the animals. Some tours focus on caring for elephants at an orphanage and include feedings as well as walks.
3. World Wildlife Fund
The World Wildlife Fund offers gorilla safaris in Uganda to highlight the problems these critically endangered animals face in the wild. Three different tours explore Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and proceeds help preserve the gorilla habitats and improve the lives of local people. WWF also offers wildlife tours in Rwanda, Congo, and Madagascar.
4. Jane Goodall Institute
The institute takes visitors into the Tchimpounga Nature Reserve in Republic of Congo. The chimpanzee center uses funds from trips to care for orphaned chimpanzees while providing information about conservation.
5. Kwandewe Private Game Reserve
Kwandewe Private Game Reserve has different tours that highlight conservation activities. Rangers and tracking teams give information about endangered wildlife such as rhinos that live in the area. Guests may also participate in a program that use microchips and ear notching to keep track of the rhinos.
This company offers many opportunities for African travel with an emphasis on protecting endangered species. You can learn about sharks in South Africa or photograph animals to aid in understanding.
7. Kaya Responsible Travel
Kaya Responsible Travel offers voluntourism trips to various parts of Africa, including South Africa, Mozambique, and Swaziland. Help orphans, teach sports, work on building projects or marine conservation while enjoying the culture and nature of southern Africa.
8. African Big 5 and Wildlife Conservation
This South African organization lets volunteer participants help wildlife foundations do research at reserves in South Africa. You’ll help monitor and collate data collected during research-oriented game drives, compile animal identikits, and assist with bush encroachment clearing, setting camera traps, removing alien plants, waterhole maintenance and picking up litter. The minimum stay is two weeks.
9. Naboisho Conservancy
Naboisho Conservancy gives visitors the chance to follow the Great Migration in the Masai Mara. The group counts game twice a week and offers specially crafted programs that teach children about the impact of conservation.
10. Community Teaching and Chimpanzee Conservation Project
The Chimfunshi is an orphanage for animals in Zambia. This area includes a farm that grows food for the chimpanzees. Travelers can work the land and interact with the animals currently living onsite.
11. Zanzibar Marine Conservation Project
This special project offers volunteers an up-close opportunity to monitor dolphins, whales and other marine life and assist with marine research in the small fishing village of Kizimkazi. Other activities include sea cucumber collection, maintaining a local marine resource centre, and monitoring tourist numbers and tourist-dolphin interactions.
12. Wildlife Photography and Conservation, Antelope Park
This destination uses photography and film-making to view lions and get information on their natural habitat. Guests can observe the interactions as lions build a pride, along with the colorful birds that call the area home.
13. Hands-On Lion Conservation, Victoria Falls
The Victoria Falls Lion Conservation Volunteer Project allows visitors to help acclimatize captive-bred cubs to the wilderness through bush walks that help the cubs become more aware of their surrounding. You can also assist with monthly game counts, carry out snare sweeps, work with local communities to mitigate lion/human conflict, remove invasive alien plant species, and conduct large predator assessments.