Volunteer to care for rescued wildlife at the Laos Wildlife Sanctuary
Volunteer to care for rescued wildlife in stunning Laos at a rescue, rehabilitation and release centre that is dedicated to protecting animals saved from the illegal wildlife trade. This unique project really is at the forefront of supporting wildlife conservation in South East Asia.
“To anyone who is considering volunteering with Globalteer, don't hesitate!”
Cloe, Teacher, UK
The Project: The Wildlife Sanctuary was set up in 2015, the trail-blazing project was the first and is currently the only official wildlife release centre in Laos. Thousands of protected animals are traded through Laos every day for their skin and meat, and also as traditional medicines, decorations, and pets. Without a rescue centre in Laos, local authorities wouldn’t be able to enforce wildlife laws, and rescued animals would not have a safe location to go to for their rehabilitation and, where possible, release.
Project Location: The wildlife sanctuary is located near a small local village two hours north of Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. The village where the centre is located rarely sees tourists, so gives a real insight into the traditional Laotian way of life
Main Volunteer Activities: Volunteers assist local staff preparing food and enrichments for the animals, cleaning enclosures, and maintaining the sanctuary.
Hours: Volunteers work 6 days a week, from 6.30am to 5pm with meal breaks.
Duration: Volunteer placements are year-round and for 1 to 12 weeks.
Accommodation: Volunteers stay in shared bungalows situated in the grounds of the sanctuary under the shade of plenty of trees. Each bungalow has a small balcony to relax on at the end of the day. Hot showers and western style toilets are shared and are located in a building just next to the bungalows.
Volunteer Requirements: Volunteers at this project must be aged 18+ and be reasonably fit as the work can be physically demanding in the hot and humid climate.
Volunteer Placement Fee: From UK£650 / US$775
√ Accommodation in secure and comfortable on-site bungalows
√ Laos orientation guide and induction on arrival, including an introduction to Lao culture and society.
√ Assistance and advice for traveling to Laos
√ Three meals a day.
√ In-country support from on-site project staff.
√ All necessary project equipment and materials.
√ All necessary project training by experienced staff.
√ Project donation.
What’s not included
- International and domestic airport taxes
- Medical and travel insurance
- Vaccinations and inoculations
- Meals, drinks and gratuities
- Extra local excursions
- Onward transport at the end of your placement
- Personal kit
- Police or background check (where necessary)
- Visa costs
How much do everyday items cost?
The official currency of Laos is the Kip (LAK), and the current exchange rate is approximately 10,500 LAK to the pound and 8,200 LAK to the US dollar. The cost of living in Laos is very low compared to most countries in the developed world. The costs of some typical items are:
- Meal in a market - 5,000 to 30,000 LAK
- Bottle of beer from a shop - 8,000 to 10,000 LAK
- Bottle of water (1.5L) - 5,000 LAK
- Meal in a restaurant - 50,000 to 100,000 LAK
Laos is a major gateway for the illegal trade of wildlife out of South East Asia, with the capture and sale of local wildlife also being one of the biggest factors pushing several species into extinction. Thousands of protected animals are traded through Laos every day including exotic birds, bears, deer, gibbons, macaques, lorises, civets, elephants, leopards, crocodiles and binturongs. In 2015 The Laos Wildlife Sanctuary was the first project of its kind to be set up in Laos. Without it local authorities wouldn’t be able to enforce laws, and rescued animals would not have a safe location to go to for their rehabilitation, and where possible release.
How the project is helping
The project's overall aim is to end the illegal wildlife trade in Laos and discourage people from keeping wild animals as pets. Working with Lao nationals and organisations and international volunteers, the project rescues and rehablitates animals with the eventual aim of releasing them back into the wild. At the same time the project runs ongoing campaigns to educate locals and visitors alike in the importance of protecting wildlife and the environment in which they live.
Why the project need volunteers
The project receives no state funding, but through volunteer support, private donations and grants the project is able to continue its vitally important work protecting the wildlife of Laos.
Volunteers play a vital role while also having the amazing opportunity to help a range of endangered animals. Volunteers help with the welfare of the animals and day to day running of the project by preparing food and providing animal care, assisting with the wildlife hospital and quarantine centre, and upgrading facilities at the sanctuary.
Volunteer with animals abroad at the Laos Sanctuary and make a real difference to the lives of the amazing animals.
Typical Volunteer Duties
Volunteers work a six day week, with one day off to explore the local area or relax. Hours worked and activities will vary based on the season, number of volunteers, and needs of the centre. Be prepared to work hard!
An example of a typical day:
Start your day at 6.30am
Breakfast from 8-9am
Lunch from 12am-1pm
Work day ends around 5pm
Dinner at 6.30pm
There is always a range of tasks to be carried out by volunteers and you will work with our local staff on some or all of the following:
- Cleaning out enclosures for all animals, including pools
- Making and giving enrichments to stimulate animals in the form of new challenges or novel items
- Preparing food
- Feeding the animals
- Planting crops
- Harvesting bamboo and grasses for food
- Helping to set up an education center
- Maintaining the enclosures
- Cleaning and repairing the centre
- Assisting with special projects
Volunteers stay in bungalows situated in the heart of the sanctuary. The bungalows are simple, but comfortable, and volunteers normally only share with one other person. The bungalows also come with a small balcony to relax on at the end of the day. Hot showers and western toilets are shared and are located in a building just next to the bungalows.
Within the immediate area it is possible to buy most things that you would need such as drinks, snacks, washing powder, and toiletries. However, it isn’t like going to the local supermarket where everything is clearly labelled for you – you may have to dig around a bit! There is also a daily local market where you can buy local food, fish, vegetables, fruit and clothing.
Three meals a day are included in your stay, and volunteers have access to free filtered drinking water, coffee, and tea. Breakfast is do-it-yourself, but supplies are provided. Lunch and dinner are freshly prepared Laotian dishes, with some European foods, and vegetarians are easily catered for.
There is no wifi at the project, but it is easy to buy and use a local SIM card, which can be used to access 3G for internet.
On days off, the project can coordinate group activities like trips to Vientiane, swimming or boat trips when enough people are interested. Volunteers can also easily individually go to local sites, or Vientiane and its surrounds, including visiting the beautiful Phou Khao Khouay National Protected Area, Lake Nam Ngum, or the nearby Buddha Park. Near the project there is a resort with a swimming pool where volunteers can spend their days off.
Laos' capital, Vientiane is a two hour drive from the project and makes for a great day trip or longer stay at the beginning or end of your placement. The small, friendly city has a reserved and tranquil air, much like the Lao people, but has plenty of charm to merit a visit.
The city mixes French-colonial architecture with Buddhist temples such as the golden, 16th-century Pha That Luang. There are many broad, tree-lined avenues are many shrines including Wat Si Saket, with thousands of Buddha images, and Wat Si Muang, built on top of a Hindu shrine.
Pakse and the South
The southern part of Laos is home to the sleepy town of Pakse, to waterfalls, coffee plantations and dreamy unspoilt islands dotted throughout the wider reaches of the Mekong River. Culture vultures will love the ancient temple of Wat Champasak and for parties and a backpacker-style break head to the 4,000 Islands.