CountryMalawiCategoryAnimals, Conservation, Environment, Marketing, Nature, Research, Tourism, Veterinary OrganisationThe Lilongwe Wildlife Centre Costs€ 301 - € 400 per weekLocationCityGroup sizeSmall group (max 8)Minimum stay2 weeks HightlightsWinner of Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award for best conservation of wildlife and habitats. "Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is a wildlife rescue, conservation and education centre in the heart of Malawi's capital city. Fending off developers, the centre has reclaimed and revived 90 hectares of urban wilderness to provide sanctuary for rescued, orphaned and injured wild animals, and promotes conservation to locals and tourists alike."
Malawi is known as ‘the warm heart of Africa’, both for its stunning beauty and friendly people. It’s also one of the most densely populated countries in Africa and one of the poorest countries in the world, which puts enormous pressures on its natural resources. As a result, the illegal trade of wild animals and their slaughter for bush meat is still a big problem in Malawi, at a time when conservation of both the environment and wildlife is more critical than ever.
Lilongwe Wildlife Centre was set up in 2007 as a People and Wildlife Centre, the first of its kind in the world, taking over a 120 hectare wilderness area right in the heart of Malawi’s capital city. Not only is it the sole wildlife sanctuary for orphaned and rescued wild animals in Malawi it is also a centre for the people, operating extensive community outreach and education programmes.
We believe we can make a real difference working with the local communities in terms of raising awareness of the importance of respecting our environment and keeping wildlife in the wild, whilst also providing alternatives to practices such as deforestation and the illegal bush meat trade.
There have been some fantastic achievements at the Centre within the last couple of years – there’s the rescue and rehabilitation of hundreds of animals including lion, leopard, antelope, baboons and crocodiles. The sale of wild animals on the side of the roads in Lilongwe has now been eradicated thanks to local campaigning. The PAW (People and Wildlife) clubs in 12 of the poorest communities are fully supported by the chiefs and officials, with whom we have developed various income generation projects and we even have support from the UNDP and City Assembly for our city wide afforestation project plan.
As a pilot ‘People and Wildlife’ project we also hope that our success will be used as a model for others around the world. In years to come we will be able to showcase the benefits of addressing conservation issues in partnership with the local communities through education and outreach, and become a true centre for the people and wildlife of Malawi.
Role of Volunteer
There are all sorts of projects you could contribute to as a volunteer and make a real difference to the wildlife and the local communities. The work of volunteers at the Centre is absolutely invaluable, and you’ll quickly become a key member of the team.
Work will be very much dependent on what projects are going on at the time. Here’s a flavour of some of the roles you could take on:
Assistant animal carer: Work alongside our animal carers and our dedicated animal care manager to offer our orphans the best possible care that they deserve...cleaning, feeding, hand rearing baby orphans and providing enrichment to those that need it.
Vet assistant: Work alongside our part time vet and help conduct full health checks on all new arrivals and regular vaccinations and check-ups on all the animals at the Centre.
Release assistant: Track animals that are being released back to the wild, whether that is in the Centre’s 60 hectare wilderness area or out at one of the Centre’s release sites around the country.
Centre support: Helping with construction and maintenance, giving guided tours or getting involved with fundraising events at the Centre.
Education: Giving guided tours, working on new signage or helping out at the Wild Kidz Summer Camps and at local orphanages.
Community outreach: Working with the community outreach manager, perhaps you could coach some of the youth wildlife football teams, work with the dance troops, teach at one of the local orphanages or help reforest local riverside locations.
Conservation and Ecology: If you’re interested in conservation management or ecological research, we have several ongoing ecological surveys and mammal censuses and important habitat management work to implement.
Marketing: Anyone with experience in website design, pr, events, photography or documentary making would be more than welcome.
By volunteering your time, we hope that you will be happy to muck in with all sorts of projects, and the final selection of work that you will undertake will be decided by the Centre upon your arrival. However, this is certainly a place where acting on your own initiative is really valued, so let us know if you see something whilst you are here where you think you could have an impact and best use your experience. Past volunteers have left a lasting impression on our ways of working, from animal enrichment to simple cleaning rotas, and we hope you can do the same.
Requirements / Conditions
Whilst relevant skills and past experience are very helpful, it is those with enthusiasm, flexibility and a good work ethic that leave the biggest mark and get to go home with the greatest sense of achievement. We welcome volunterers from all walks of life, the minimum age is 18 years and there is no maximum, our oldest volunteer was 64!
Ever fancied waking up to the sound of a lion roaring or be able to see monkeys play from your bedroom window? In our volunteer accommodation you can! Volunteers stay together at our brand new Volunteer House, which is within the heart of the wildlife centre and surrounded by our animals. This allows you to be close to the action and, despite being within the centre of a capital city, a chance to experience the wild side of Africa.
The House has mixed dorm-style accommodation with a electricity, kitchen, living area, bathroom and hot showers. We also have a generous and attractive garden area for relaxing in the evenings and on your day off. Volunteers buy and prepare their own food, we provide a generous food allowance for this, and our kitchen is fully equipped with most mod cons. We have Brai (BBQ) should you enjoy eating al fresco. If you prefer to eat out there are many good restaurants just a short drive away.
We are a green oasis located right in the heart of Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi. It takes just 25 minutes to reach us from Lilongwe International Airport. By African standards, Lilongwe is a safe, clean and relatively quiet city with just the right amount of nightlife, which we will be more than happy to introduce you to! The wildlife centre is a great place for socialising in the evenings and on your day off. You can grab a drink at the bar, enjoy a picnic in the wilderness trails or as a volunteer you have access to the wildlife sanctuary in the evenings for the occasional night safari to see the nocturnal animals come to life! There are craft and food markets within walking distance of the centre, where you can browse the stalls for curios, pick up some local veg and practice your haggling!
If you have enough time we would also recommend a trip to the Lake for some relaxing beach time or take a boat or canoe excursion. Perhaps you would consider a safari to South Luangwa in nearby Zambia , one of the best wildlife reserves in the whole of Africa. Lilongwe Wildlife Volunteers are entitled to a discount with an excellent local safari operator, more information on request.
From £850 - £2695 (2-12 weeks) excluding flights.
Price includes accommodation, food, airport transfers, work related transport, orientation and in-house support, and a donation to the centre.
Volunteer placements start and end on a tuesday.
Lilongwe is a great place to visit year round. It has a reasonably temperate climate for Africa. Wet season is from November to February, but is actually quite pleasant as rains last only an hour or so in the afternoon. It reaches around 32 degrees in the hot months of October and November, and the coolest month is July, at around 25 degrees but still bright and sunny.