There are many different initiatives involved in this project, and as a volunteer you can contribute to them all if you wish! Volunteers in Malawi need to be flexible, full of enthusiasm and hardworking. Below is an outline of all of the activities which you may be involved with, including any specific activities for those joining as a veterinary student.
Orphan and animal care
Work alongside local animal carers with cleaning, feeding, hand-rearing adorable baby orphans and providing enrichment to those that desperately need it. Please note that we take animal welfare very seriously and therefore the project has a strict no-animal-contact policy. The only exception to this is if you are hand-rearing an orphan or working with the vet.
Veterinary Care – Veterinary Students only
As a veterinary student, you will have the fantastic opportunity to work alongside the on-site veterinarian, assisting with all aspects of veterinary care: including minor trauma, routine diagnostics, vaccinations and conducting full health checks on all new arrivals. This is an excellent way of gaining first-hand experience in the field and expanding your knowledge base.
Rehabilitation and release
Join our dedicated animal care manager to rehabilitate rescued animals and settle them into new groups. These animals need to be fed and cared for, as well as monitored to collect data which is essential to ensure their safe release. Some volunteers at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre may have the opportunity to help with a release; however, this is dependent on whether any are scheduled to take place when you are at the centre.
Helping with construction and the maintenance of the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is vital for the project to exist as a sustainable refuge for vulnerable Malawian wildlife. Therefore, this may be something you are involved in when on the project and can include anything from enclosure repair, physical building work and even painting, so make sure you're prepared to get stuck in!
Education and community outreach
This is an important aspect of the project and involves assisting with guided tours for locals to help educate them on the importance of wildlife conservation. You will also work alongside the community outreach manager to visit local communities, helping with existing outreach projects such as the ‘Learning Through Wildlife’ adult-literacy programme, and Malambe Juice Co-operative.
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 in, helping to collect vital information that provides the team with an accurate indication of the health of the surrounding environment at Lilongwe.
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 here for a longer duration, the number of project days would increase.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
You will arrive into Africa's 'friendliest nation' via the Lilongwe International Airport, where you will then be met by a project representative or local transport service. You will then be transferred to the project site, which is just a 25-minute drive away. Once you have settled in, you will be taken into town where you can buy anything you may need before enjoying a tour of the centre, meeting your fellow volunteers and some of the sanctuary's residents!
Day 2-14 - Project Days:
This project is extremely flexible so you will mostly be able to spend time on the activities that you would most like to participate in, although we do ask that all volunteers are flexible and able to step in if urgent tasks arise! The working hours are 8 am to 5 pm, 6 days a week, with 1 day off a week to relax. If taking part for 3 or more weeks, pre-organised safaris, camping excursions and more can be arranged at your own expense to enjoy if you have a long weekend break during your stay.
Day 15 - Final Day:
This will be your final day and after some fond farewells to staff, volunteers and animals alike, you will return to Lilongwe airport for your return flight or continue with any independent travel plans. While you may feel like you don't want your trip to end, you will leave the centre with a lifetime of invaluable memories that will last forever, knowing you have left a lasting impact on this amazing project that is so vital to wildlife conservation.
Dates, Availability & Price
To secure a place on this project a deposit of £195 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 2007 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 has already proven to be an extremely successful year for those at the project site: they have assisted in the arrests of 37 animal traffickers, seizing of 161 kg of ivory and putting 21 traffickers in jail. There have been 26 new animal rescues with 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 have 25 adult literacy students!
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.
As we approach the end of 2017, we’re taking a look back at some of the top stories and experiences from the past year. Yesterday we reflected on the top 5 most heart-wrenching rehabilitation stories across our projects throughout the year, and today we are celebrating the incredible individual actions and group achievements of our volunteers!
Did you read about Spirit, the buzzard released from the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre? Just a few days after such a wonderful update, we are thrilled to say that even more animals are now experiencing freedom, thanks to the hard work of those at the centre. Read on to find out more!
Our friends at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre recently got in touch with news of a recent release - read on to learn about Spirit's story, and find out how you can get involved with conservation in Malawi, too!
Is this trip for you?
As a volunteer staying at the project you can look forward to waking up to the sound of a lion brilliantly roaring and the sight of monkeys playfully interacting from the bedroom window. Volunteers stay together at the project’s brand new Volunteer House within the heart of the wildlife centre, surrounded by amazing wildlife. The house has mixed dorm-style accommodation with electricity, a kitchen, lounge area, bathroom, hot showers, and also a delightful garden area for relaxing in the evenings and during your free time.
All meals are included and prepared by the project’s local cook, who provides international dishes along with some delicious local Malawian favourites. We 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 in 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!
The vaccinations required depend on the medical history of each volunteer. We recommend that you consult your GP regarding your own immunisation needs to ensure you are fully protected and prepared to volunteer in Malawi. In conjunction with this, we would also recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website for extra information. A chest x-ray or other test (to check for TB) before arrival is also required. This is ESSENTIAL and you will need to take proof of your chest X-ray (or other test) with you in order to take part in the project.
You will need to arrive into Lilongwe International Airport on the start date of your project where you will be met by a representative who will transfer you to the wildlife centre (a 25 minute drive). Kenya Airways, Ethiopia Airways and South African Airways all serve routes to Lilongwe with flights normally landing around 12am.
If you arrive early and the dates of your trip exceed the project length then we recommend you stay at Mubuya or Madidi Lodge.
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. It is possible to arrange a visa on arrival, however we advise volunteers to arrange one in advance if possible. There is one general category of Visa for all travelers. The current cost is $75 for a month plus extensions every 30 days for roughly $10. Please check with your embassy for your particular requirements or further clarification. Or if you have any questions you can ask us! For UK volunteers you can find information on the Malawi High Commission’s website: http://www.malawihighcommission.co.uk/index.php/visa. U.S nationals will also require a specific type of visa to volunteer in Malawi, and information regarding this can be found on the U.S travel.gov website: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/coun...
Currency and Exchange Rates
The currency in Malawi is the Malawian Kwacha. 1 MWK is equal to roughly 0.0011 GBP, 0.0014 USD and 0.0012 EUR.
What's included in the price of the project?
- A monetary contribution to the project itself
- Transfers to and from the airport
- Full orientation and support from the project managers
- Accommodation and meals as indicated
What's not included?
- Any flights
- Travel insurance
- Visas if required
- Trips undertaken other than in the planned itinerary