I'm Volunteering in Kenya to Help Animals

By Lauren Yakiwchuk '04

There are two things in my life that I'm truly passionate about: travelling the world and helping animals. I want to see as much of this world as I possibly can. I also adore the creatures living on our planet: I've been a vegetarian for my whole life (vegan for the last 5+ years), I'm an environmentalist, and I enjoy helping local animal organizations in Ontario. At last, I'm combining my two loves: I'm embarking on a volunteer trip to Africa to work on a wildlife conservancy!

I'll be travelling to the Great Rift Valley in Kenya for ten days in March 2016, working on projects that help animals, the people living in the area, and the natural environment. I'll be volunteering with a small team, led by Animal Experience International. We will be living at the Soysambu Wildlife Conservancy, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Volunteering here will have a great impact, and I'm looking forward to making a meaningful difference. As you're probably aware, the wildlife of Africa is under great pressure from greedy poachers and habitat destruction. We need to protect the animals that live there, such as elephants, giraffes, lions, and many more. Many of these species are threatened or endangered. At Soysambu Wildlife Conservancy, volunteers work in the field to monitor poaching activity and wildlife popuations, and work to make improvements to the land itself.

Our team will be in the field to monitor populations of the Rothschild giraffe, as 10% of the world's Rothschild giraffes live at Soysambu. We'll be dismantling wire fencing around the property, so poachers aren't able to steal the wire to build their snares that trap the animals. Another problem at Soysambu is the spread of prickly pear, an invasive plant species brought into Kenya by the British during Colonial times. We'll be removing these troublesome plants from the property, as well as maintaining the conservancy's vegetable garden that feeds many locals in the area. Furthermore, we'll be visiting local schools to teach children about the importance and value of wildlife preservation.

Are you interested in volunteering abroad? I'm passionate about helping animals, though there are many worthwhile projects worldwide. It's a great way to see the world and make a positive impact in the places that you visit. Animal Experience International travels to each location in advance, and ensures that the projects will make a meaningful difference. Some volunteer programs can actually do more harm than good, and AEI guarantees that volunteers will have a valuable impact on animal projects and organizations around the world. I'm incredibly excited about this great adventure.

Lauren Yakiwchuk is a travel blogger and photographer at Justin Plus Lauren.