Report from the Wildlife Conservation Project in Thailand
"Working With Animals and Making New Friends"
Bye bye Germany!
Hey, my name is Thuy and I volunteered for a month in Thailand at a Wildlife and Elephants Rescue Center. At the end of last year (2016), I decided not to spend the next summer lazily on the beach or something, but to try something new and useful. So I said goodbye to Germany on July 22 and landed in Bangkok one day later. I was taken from the BKK airport to the Wildlife Center and once there, I was received by a very nice and lively wildlife coordinator.
On the truck to see the local area
Even just the idea of being on the back of a truck to visit the area was adventurous. After a two-hour walking tour across the main local area, we set off in the pouring rain (yes, it was monsoon season) to pay a visit to the larger group of elephants and macaques (monkeys).
You gotta go to work, work, work ...
During the four weeks I lived with max. three other people in a small bungalow. On the first day I got up at 5:30am to get ready to work on the mat one hour later (or meet with about 40-60 other volunteers). Since I wanted to work in the wildlife project, we got into small groups to get our daily tasks, such as preparing food, feeding, clean enclosures, tinkering "enrichments" etc. At 8am, we had breakfast together, which was scheduled for an hour break (noon also) so that the day was divided into three sections. In addition, there were weekly volunteer meetings, in which rules and news were discussed and we were informed about the background of the animals, why they live in the center, how long they will be there and if it will be possible for them to enter the wild again. These meetings were important and exciting at once, as we were able to experience the "story" of almost every animal.
Returning from a day feels like coming home
The work was interesting and I enjoyed it immensely, but a free day, where you could just relax and do nothing, or explore the neighboring places together with other volunteers, was always welcome. The others came from all over the world, but mostly from English or French speaking countries. In this international group, which also included all age groups, new friends quickly found each other. Especially in the last week it seemed to me like in a huge family: the coordinators were always approachable and incredibly likeable, as well as the other volunteers and also with the Thai locals there, we started to make friends more and more over time.
Take me back!
I can recommend this project to anyone who is open to anything new, to Thailand and its culture, who are interested in animals and especially because they are allowed to live where they come from: wild, in nature. If you come with the expectation to ride elephants or take selfies with cute monkeys, you should forget quickly if you want to work here in the wildlife center. The centre works deliberately against these sort of places and people. Even if you are not allowed to touch the majority of the animals, you get close to them. The routine makes it easier to get to know individual animals, their behavior and their habits.
On my last day
Once again I visited all the animals I had taken care of every day. Wistfully, I said goodbye to them and all (human) friends, before I made my way home with a heavy heart. Yes, I had to deal with somewhat less luxurious living conditions than at home, but it was a wonderful time, full of new experiences, full of unforgettable moments and in which I was able to meet many new people.
Report from the Wildlife Conservation Project in Thailand, by Thuy S., 30.12.17