Eight Voluntourism Projects With Silly Species – A Traveler’s Guide to Volunteering With Animals

You’re going to do what on your vacation? Work? With..?

Voluntourism is one of the fastest growing segments of the tourism industry. Combined with the basic nature of people who possess altruist tendencies, it is not surprising that wildlife, animal rescue and conservation projects are also becoming increasingly popular. Few voluntary spirits would not be moved when looking into the eyes of a young chimpanzee or could not become exhilarated by the idea of helping dolphins in the wild. They are, after all, awe-inspiring. Still, there is another side to volunteering with animals – the silly side.

Beyond the awe-stuck factor, beyond the creatures of fame and popularity, there are ‘lesser’ creatures, animals needing your help just as much as the ‘glam’ species – animals that, well, despite their best intentions make people giggle. Let’s face it, some critters are just funny. There is nothing wrong with that. Be it their appearance, their habits or just their name, certain animals bring out a sense of fun or whimsy in the more childish parts of human hearts.

There is more to being an adventure traveler than wandering aimlessly off the beaten path and embalming one’s self with the local hooch or jumping off of a perfectly good bridge with a rubber band strapped to your ankles. Volunteering with animals can take you to places you never imagined. Better still, you go to these places with a purpose. Aiding in the lives of animals gives you a reason to immerse into a culture alongside like-minded people or to head deep into the wildest parts of a country.

Beyond true adventure, altruism, learning and purpose (as if that were not enough), there is also laughter to be had while helping animals. So before you wash up on yet another beach with no real direction, consider these lovable creatures and worthy projects that could use your voluntary hands.

1) Wombats

Yes you can! You ‘can’ volunteer in a Womatorium that is. Who else, but the Australians would bring us such an opportunity?

Organization: Wombat Protection Society
Location: Quaama, NSW, Australia
Cost: None
Duration: Open
Overview: A wide range of volunteer skills can be used to help protect these amazing, yet comical, creatures. From administrative work – including publicity and fundraising, to field research and monitoring or working at release sites. This may involve building wombatoriums, fencing, research assistance, burrow monitoring, wombat sighting and some direct care.

2) Sloths

Finally a project for every volunteer who has ever had a dog or bird escape straight passed them at 80 MPH when the volunteer entered an enclosure. No worries about that here. Need I say more?

Organization: Sloth Sanctuary of Cost Rica
Location: Aviarios, Costa Rica
Cost: $30 per day full board
Duration: Open
Overview: A dedicated staff of full-time employees cares for the animals, but volunteers are needed to help provide injured and rescued sloths with the extra loving care they require in order to both survive and thrive. The sanctuary also has a special need for those experienced in veterinary/pet care, biology, information technology, marketing, landscaping, graphic design, grant writing, fund-raising and cooking – for the boss!

3) Tasmanian Devils

Seriously, is anyone really surprised to see that those lovable Aussies and their continent full of fabulously bizarre species have more than on opportunity to work with silly animals?

Organization: Save the Tasmanian Devil
Location: Tasmania, Australia
Cost: None
Duration: Two weeks
Overview: Devilish volunteers are involved in field monitoring and wild management of Tasmanian devils (see Taz on Looney Tunes), helping with trapping at various sites across Tasmania. While team leaders trap and release Tasmanian devils, volunteers assist with scrubbing and cleaning traps and scribing. You will four-wheel-drive into breathtakingly beautiful places that very few people get to see and help an amazing endangered animal that is full of personality.

4) Lammas and Vicuña

Be a Llama Momma (it had to be said)! Enjoy the rush of the Andes scenery and high altitude conservation with not one, but two unusual animals.

Organization: A Pas de Loup
Location: Southern province of Arequipa, Peru
Cost: $8 per day for meals
Duration: 1+ month
Overview: Volunteer need to speak Spanish. The mission is part of a contracted partnership between three structures: A Pas de Loup, the Ministry of the Environment and the Peruvian National Reserve Salinas y Aguada Blanca. The on-site team consisting of a director, 16 guards and 34 volunteers, is responsible for overseeing a reserve, the establishment of scientific research and advocacy with the local population.

5) Chinchillas

They’re fuzzy! They’re fun! They’re Fabulous! And, they are in need of your help!

Organization: Save the Wild Chinchillas
Location: Illapel, Chile
Cost: None, just pay own expenses for food.
Duration: Open
Overview: Very rustic accommodations are available. A typical day starts early and work may continue until it is too cold or the morning sun peaks through. This is a very ‘wild’ and rustic project needing volunteers who can hold their own and laugh at themselves in the great outdoors. Every day is different and you see a lot of Chile’s wildlife. Read the PDF information on their website to get a real feel for this project and the happy, hardy spirits they need.

6) Lemurs

When nothing but some monkeying around on vacation will do, you can still experience the wonders of Madagascar – The Land of Misfit Primates.

Organization: Location: Beautiful lakeside camp of Lanirano in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar
Cost: From $2,600 for 4 weeks
Duration: 4 or 8 weeks
Overview: Volunteers work on an extensive range of projects from the collection of data on endangered lemur species to environmental education with local communities and tree planting for reforestation purposes. During this time you will get close to the three main species of diurnal lemur you are likely to encounter in the bush – Verreaux’s sifaka, Ring-tailed lemurs and Brown lemurs.

7) Meerkats

There is a reason meerkats have their own television series and land mo
re parts in movies than your average large-breasted starlet. See why for yourself.

Organization: Earthwatch Institute
Location: Upington, South Africa
Cost: $3,750 – $3,950+
Duration: 14 days
Overview: Help observe six habituated colonies of meerkats in South Africa’s Kuruman River Reserve. You’ll learn how to radio-track, conduct focal sampling, use a Global Positioning System and weigh meerkats. The data you collect will help researchers evaluate how cooperative breeding affects the survival of both pups and helpers.

8) Penguins

This one’s for the birds (again, it had to be said)! Some travelers just have to be around marine environments, so if you have salt water in your veins (and a tuxedo under your swimsuit) here is the project for you.

Organization: Greenforce
Location: South Africa
Cost: $2,600
Duration: 6 weeks
Overview: Volunteers learn how to catch, handle, feed, tube and administer medication to a variety of seabirds, as well as assisting in the intensive care unit. Past volunteers have sailed to Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned) to release penguins into one of the world’s largest penguin colonies.

Volunteer travel is truly addictive. Think of each project as a potato chip, every chip is a little different and you can’t have just one. Spice things up with a little humor and you will only add to the experience. So, the next time someone wants to know what you’re doing on your vacation, hold your head up high, tell them you have a hot date with a southern hairy-nosed wombat and make a beeline for the airport. Do it with pride and a smile.

The Invisible Book Signing

Once upon a time there was a young royal scribe, a joint heir with the King of Kings. This humble scribe decided it would be great to have a book signing in the kingdom’s public library. She worked to reach her readers. She called for the royal announcer to blow his horn publicly so readers far and wide would hear the news. She sent out invitational announcement to nurses through out the royal kingdom.

For many days she prepared for the 4 hour event.

The day arrived and she and her husband traveled to the near kingdom city. When they arrived at the royal library the royal librarian was not very receptive, but cordial. No posters could be put up to announce the event. It must have been a king’s decree across the land. The couple went to the room at the top of the stairs, set up the books and free giveaways, but alas, no one came.

The husband felt sorry for the scribe so he picked her a royal bouquet from the library garden. The guards were unaware.

The scribe picked a book off the shelf and began to read; the husband went outside on the beautiful day and cleaned the carriage. Waiting, and waiting, finally her two greatest fans arrived. Her parents, who also traveled far for the event.

Together they waited until their royal bellies started to growl. They loaded up and went to the local International House of Pancakes and had ummy pancakes and a very nice visit.

The parents and the husband were afraid that the scribe would be disappointed. But, lo and behold, she wasn’t. She thought it funny that she gave a party and no one came. As she ate her pancakes it occurred to her that this must be a royal rite of passage for scribes. She counted it all joy.

After the couple had gotten back to their humble abode in the forest the messenger rang. Her Daddy had stopped at the royal Wal-Mart where their cousin is the manager. Her parents were in need of a new coffee brewing pot and were able to visit with the cousin who was working. The cousin was happy to find out that his cousin was a published scribe. Her Daddy was happy to give him a card for the scribe.

The cousin sent message to the scribe and ordered a book for his sister who is studying to be a nurse. The scribe told him that she would bring it to him on Monday after the Sabbath on Sunday.

The scribe had an idea. What if she can get her royal cousin to stock the book in his royal Wal-Mart?

So she sat down and wrote a message to her royal writing group, Son Rise Writers, asking them to pray to the King of Kings that this might come to pass if it be His Will.

The moral of the story is: Count it all joy.

(Well ain’t that the silliest thing you have ever read?)

History of Taxes

Originally it was the Egyptians who invented the system of Taxes. They appointed Tax Masters, whose job it was to increase the burden on the slaves under the Egyptian domination. Tax collectors, also known as Scribes, were drawn on tomb paintings dating as far back as 2000 B.C.

They taxed simple things such as the use of cooking oil in family meals, as well as other aspects of daily life. They accomplished this by auditing households and checking that the correct amount of cooking oil was being consumed. They also ensured that residents were not using methods of cooking other than the taxed oil.

Greece adopted the tax system from the Egyptians and used it in Athens during times of war. They created a tax, known as eisphora, which was used to pay for special wartime expenditures. They stopped the tax system once the emergency war was over. Once additional resources were gained by the war effort they refunded the tax. Greece is one of the few societies that managed to maintain this system. Foreigners where taxed in Athens under the metoikion tax.

Ancient Rome took on the tax system and included sales taxes, and inheritance tax, as well as tax on imports and exports. Caesar Augustus is considered as one of the best tax strategists of the Roman Empire. During his reign as “First Citizen”, he made cities responsible for collecting taxes, instead of allocating the task to tax collectors from central government. He created an inheritance tax of 5%, which resulted in all military costs being paid for. This inspired the English and Dutch to make similar taxes in later years.

During Julius Caesar’s reign, sales tax was enforced. Caesar Augustus changed Julius Caesar’s sales tax of 1% to 4% for slaves and 1% for everything else. The first tax-free shipping port at Delos was created in the 4th century B.C. The shipping port is known as the first “Tax Haven” in history. It diverted traffic from Rhodes. Roman Emperor, Vespasian, expanded taxes during the 1st century A.D. He created the Fiscus Judaicus, known as the Tax on Jews, as well as a tax to use urine for cleaning or tanning leather. An inheritance tax of 10% was enforced on all Roman Citizens in 212 A.D.

The Queen of Englia, Boadicea led a revolt, which can be credited to corrupt tax collectors in 60 A.D. The revolt allegedly killed over 80,000 people, including all the Roman soldiers within 100 miles. She managed to seize London during the process and raised an army of 230,000. Emperor Nero finally managed to stop the revolt and appointed new administrators for the British region.

Lady Godiva caused a bit of disturbance herself in the 11th Century. According to legend she rode through town naked on horseback, as part of a deal that she had made with her husband, Leofric, the Earl of Mercia. He had promised to reduce the taxes if she went through with the dare. The residents of Coventry, where the tax was reduced, honoured her for her courage.

From then on countries battled and fought over different types of taxes. Eventually each country began editing its own tax system to suit its needs. They expanded the tax system, dropping smaller taxes for bigger ones, until eventually we have the system we have today.