The Top 5 'Out of the Ordinary' Wildlife Volunteer Experiences

The Top 5 'Out of the Ordinary' Wildlife Volunteer Experiences

Posted by Sam Hopkins on 6th Mar 2015

Did you know that this Tuesday (March 3rd) was 'World Wildlife Day'? According to the UN, this day is vitally important in that it “ is an opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that conservation provides to people". We couldn't agree more, and bearing in mind that wildlife and conservation are both at the centre of our ethos as a company, we decided for our blog this week that we would talk about five of the more 'out of the ordinary' wildlife volunteer encounters that you can enjoy around the globe. Forget safaris in the Masai Mara or in Kruger National Park - this is wildlife viewing for the more intrepid traveller!

Marine Giants in Mozambique -

Particularly exciting this one given the impending launch of our new marine conservation project in this exact location, Mozambique offers travellers the chance to get up, close and personal with some of the ocean's largest inhabitants – whale sharks and manta rays. Coming face to face with one of these graceful giants is truly awe-inspiring and an experience which you certainly won't forget in a hurry. What's more, Mozambique is one of the very few places in the world where you are practically guaranteed an encounter with one of these magnificent animals. So…what are you waiting for? Make sure you check out the launch of our new project next week!

Snow Leopards of Ladakh -

Renowned as being one of the world's most elusive animals, the beautiful yet critically endangered snow leopard had to make it onto this list of "out of the ordinary" wildlife encounters. Though your chances of seeing one in the wild remain pretty slim to non-existent, you can increase them by travelling to the Himalayan city of Leh in India's Ladakh province. During the winter months, the imposing slopes of the 6000 metre + mountains in Hemis National Park play host to this most iconic of carnivores on the hunt for their favourite prey item – the blue sheep. It should be noted that even if you don't spot one of these elusive predators (experts decipher that you have a 50/50 chance of a sighting), the scenery here is second to none. With a backdrop of the formidable Himalayan Mountain Range, as well as chances to spot wildlife including brown bears and lammergeier vultures, you're more than guaranteed an incredible experience. This is certainly a must for the adventurous amongst you.

Tiger Sharks of Durban -

This really only applies to the thrill seekers amongst you, as it offers you the chance to get close to one of the ocean's most formidable predators – the tiger shark – outside of a cage! As mad as it sounds, Sam from the office has done it (vouching that it is perfectly safe) and can't help but get excited about it. As he himself states: "Though there were plenty of oceanic blacktip sharks milling around, a Tiger didn't show face until right at the end of the dive, in a show stopping and unforgettable cameo. One majestic swoop into the arena before disappearing like a ghost into the inky darkness. It was a moment that I will never forget, and ranks as possibly my most memorable animal encounter. After all, who else can say that they have looked one of the ocean's most infamous predators in the eye?"

Gray Whales in Baja -

Situated just off the coast of Baja California in Mexico lies a small and sheltered lagoon which plays host to one of the ocean's friendliest inhabitants – the magnificent gray whale. Every spring, hundreds of them return to their traditional birthing and breeding grounds in the sheltered San Ignacio Lagoon on Mexico's Baja Peninsula. Friendly and engaging, the whales are often intrigued with humans, swimming right up to the boats with their calves in tow. Often they come within arm's reach guaranteeing you a once in a lifetime animal encounter! Harriet from our team is heading out to Mexico next month to see the whales for herself. We can't wait to hear about her experiences and see her pictures on her return!

Hyenas of Harar, Ethiopia -

To most people, hyenas wouldn't be at the top of their 'must see' list. Much maligned and nocturnal by nature, it's no wonder they are often labelled as the "devious villais of the bushveld". However, travel to the small town of Harar in Southern Ethiopia and that could soon change, for it is here that the 'hyena men' reside. Spotted hyenas are considered sacred in Ethiopia, and many people in Harar believe that the hyenas have the ability to rid the area of evil spirits known as 'djinn'. Many people in Eastern Africa believe that they can actually become possessed by a 'djinn', and some travel to Harar from all over in order to feed the hyenas with the 'hyena men' - believing that the animals can take the evil 'djinn' away. It should be noted that even though the hyenas are being fed, there is the utmost respect paid to the animals by the hyena men. A tradition that has been going on for centuries, this really is a must on the 'out of the ordinary' bucket list!

 

 


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