Orphan and Animal Care
You will work alongside local animal carers by cleaning, feeding and hand-rearing adorable baby orphans, as well as providing enrichment to those that need it. Please note that the welfare of the animals is a top priority, and a strict no-contact policy is enforced across the sanctuary except in the instance of hand-rearing the animals or working alongside the vet.
Rehabilitation and Release
Join the project’s dedicated animal care manager to help rehabilitate rescued animals and settle them into new groups. These animals will need to be fed and cared for, as well as monitored for data collection purposes. This data is essential in ensuring their safe release, which is also something you may be able to take part in if you’re lucky!
Construction And Maintenance
Your help with construction and maintenance at the centre is vital in helping the project to exist as a sustainable refuge for wildlife. You may assist in tasks such as enclosure repairs, the construction of new enclosures or painting, among others. This will not only ensure that the animals currently living at the centre have the best environment to live in but in the case of constructing new enclosures, will mean that more animals can be taken in and cared for.
Education and Community Outreach
This project isn’t just about the animals, but also about working with and educating the local communities. This is a fulfilling and meaningful part of the volunteer experience, as you assist with guided tours around the centre to help educate locals on the importance of wildlife conservation. You’ll also work alongside the community outreach manager as you take part in projects such as the ‘Learning Through Wildlife’ adult literacy programme.
For those interested in conservation management, there are several ecological surveys, mammal censuses and an important afforestation project which always require volunteer support for wider wildlife conservation in Malawi. This offers a whole new side of the project that you can immerse yourself in, as you help collect vital information which provides the team with an accurate indication of the health of the surrounding environment at Lilongwe.
Veterinary Care – Veterinary Students Only
If you are visiting the project as a veterinary student, you will have the opportunity to work alongside the on-site veterinarian, assisting in all aspects of care ranging from emergency operations to health checks and routine diagnostics. You may also spend some time at the nearby Kuti Wildlife Reserve, learning new techniques such as wildlife health surveys and veterinary outreach. This is an excellent way of gaining first-hand experience in the field and expanding your knowledge base.
This itinerary is set as a two-week block with volunteers able to choose their own schedules according to preference but within reason. If you choose to volunteer for a longer duration, the number of project days would increase.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
After arriving at Lilongwe International Airport, you will be met and transferred to the project site (around 30 minutes away). Once you have settled into your accommodation, you will have the opportunity to go into town to collect anything you may need during your time on the project, such as any personal necessities or snacks/drinks. You will then return to the centre in time for a tour, so you can meet your fellow volunteers and some of the sanctuary’s animal residents!
Day 2-14 - Project Days:
Your project days will be spent working on an array of activities. There is a certain amount of flexibility here, meaning you may be able to focus more on your preferred activity. However, if there are certain tasks that the team urgently need to be completed, you will be asked to assist with these, so please be prepared to be flexible! Working hours are between 8am and 6pm, 6 days per week, and you will have one day off to relax. Should you volunteer for three weeks or more, you may be allocated two consecutive days off per week, allowing you spare time to explore the local area if you wish!
Day 15 - Final Day:
Today is unfortunately your last day, so bid farewell to your new-found friends and the centre’s adorable animals. You will take a return transfer back to Lilongwe Airport, either for your return flight home or to continue your own independent travel plans.
Dates, Availability & Price
To secure a place on this project a deposit of $245 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!
Updates & Outcomes
Lilongwe Wildlife Centre was originally set up in 2008 thanks to a trust of passionate local patrons, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, and members of the Born Free Foundation. The government granted the trust the concession to 90 hectares of wilderness right in the heart of the city; effectively giving it similar protection to that of a national park.
A local campaign against illegal pet trafficking virtually eradicated the illegal roadside-wildlife trade in Lilongwe and as word spread of the centre´s work, animals came flooding in from across the country and beyond! In addition to smaller releases, the first primate release programme was set up in Kasungu in 2009, returning animals back into the wild where they belong. In 2010, the centre's vet clinic and orphan care clinic were completed and since then various other release programmes have been established. In 2014/5, Lilongwe rescued 77 animals and released 57, followed by the release of 22 Vervet Monkeys in 2016 who welcomed other wild residents into their troop and have since reproduced! 2017 proved to be another extremely successful year for the team at Lilongwe. Members of the team assisted in the arrests of 37 animal traffickers, seizing of 161 kg of ivory and putting 21 traffickers in jail. There were also 26 new animal rescues to add to the 185 animals already in rehabilitation at the centre. In terms of conservation education, 9,763 school children have benefited, 81 new teachers have been trained, and they also gained 25 adult literacy students who came to the centre hoping to improve their skills!
Now that the wildlife centre is well established, the second phase of its development is focusing on improving the centre for people. Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is already a key education and recreation facility, giving people the opportunity to get closer to nature and see the value of wildlife conservation for themselves. Already, the project welcomes 25,000 children through the gates every year and subsidises poorer schools and orphanages to ensure that the centre is accessible to everyone so the messages are spread as far as possible. The centre's outreach programme also aims to address some of the everyday pressures that the communities face, and wherever possible, the project encourages sustainable livelihoods that support both the local people and the conservation of the environment.
The story of Pretzel highlights the important work undertaken by the incredible team at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre. From horrific circumstances with unfortunate consequences, Pretzel has overcome a traumatic ordeal and has newfound freedom and friendships in her new sanctuary home.
- posted on 14/03/2019
- by Leanne Sturrock
Our latest update from the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre follows the rescue of none other than Tom Brady...or, at least, his vervet monkey namesake! Read on to learn more about Tiny Tom, from his arrival at the centre to his recovery.
- posted on 08/03/2018
- by Leanne Sturrock
Join us in celebrating International Women's Day, as we list some of our top female conservation heroes. These ladies have paved the way for major breakthroughs in the realm of animal welfare and conservation. Which women have inspired you the most?
Is this trip for you?
During the project, you will stay in a volunteer house situated right within the heart of the wildlife centre. The house is comprised of a kitchen, lounge area, and a shared bathroom with hot showers, as well as a mixed-gender dorm-style accommodation, allocating up to ten volunteers per room. It is possible to upgrade to a chalet (subject to availability), which sleeps up to four people per room and features an en-suite bathroom. The volunteer house and chalet are situated close together, meaning that guests from either accommodation will still be able to socialise. Outside there is also a pleasant garden area in which to unwind during your free time.
All meals are included and prepared by the project’s local cook, apart from Sundays when the cook has a day off and volunteers will share kitchen duties amongst themselves. Whilst on the project you will be able to enjoy various international dishes along with some delicious local Malawian favourites. The team can cater for vegetarian or vegan diets, but please let us know in advance so the team at the project site have plenty of time to prepare for your arrival.
If you would prefer to dine elsewhere, there are many delicious restaurants just a short drive away and the wildlife centre’s restaurant serves fantastic lunches. Whichever option is your preference, you can certainly look forward to indulging on the local Malawian cuisine!
The construction work undertaken on this project requires a moderate level of fitness. The other tasks, however, are not particularly physically strenuous, but a fair level of fitness is advised. No specific skills or experience are required, just a commitment to this dedicated project and its commendable ethos. However, if you do have specific skills or experience that you feel will greatly benefit one of the project’s programmes, this is always warmly welcomed and every contribution has a lasting impact on the endangered species that need it most!
To volunteer on this project a chest x-ray or skin test will need to be provided to show that you do not have Tuberculosis. This is ESSENTIAL, as without the above you will not be granted access to the volunteer areas on site.
All other vaccinations will depend on the medical history of each volunteer. We recommend that you consult your Doctor/GP regarding your own vaccination needs to ensure you are fully protected and prepared to volunteer in Malawi.
You will need to arrive at Lilongwe International Airport between 9am and 5pm on your project start date, where a project representative will be waiting to transfer you to the wildlife centre. This transfer takes approximately 25 minutes.
If you arrive in Lilongwe a day early, we recommend that you spend a night at the Mumbuya Camp or Kiboko Hotel.
If you would like help booking your flights, please visit our flights page and fill out the form. A member of our team will get back in touch as soon as possible with a suitable quote.
All nationals from countries that require Malawians to pay for a visa to enter their countries, are required to obtain a visa to enter Malawi. As this may change over time, we strongly recommend that you speak to your embassy to learn about the visa requirements for your country. If you do require a visa, we recommend obtaining this in advance of travel, however, it is possible to pay for one on arrival. Visas are paid for in US Dollars, with single-entry visas currently priced at $75.
What's included in the price of the project?
- A monetary contribution to the project itself
- Airport transfers
- Full orientation and support from the project managers
- Accommodation and meals as indicated
What's not included?
- Any flights
- Visas if required