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NZers using OE helping wildlife in Africa

New Zealanders Using Big OE Helping Indigenous Wildlife in Africa

Young New Zealanders are increasingly using their big OE to help wildlife conservation according to the founder of the International Working Holidays (IWH), the specialist overseas employment agency.

So popular are its overseas wildlife conservation projects that IWH has now added FreeMe, an African suburban animal rescue and rehabilitation programme to the range of volunteer adventures on offer to New Zealanders.

Vicki Kenny, IWH chief executive says that the organisation has been offering African Volunteer Adventures for over a year and has seen a huge amount of interest from young New Zealanders wanting to help with and learn about wildlife conservation. IWH works with TB-free lion breeding programmes, rhino and elephant projects as well as other accredited African wildlife conservation organisations.

She adds: `Our African Adventures have been so popular. In the first month alone we had more than 400 enquiries. Since then, it’s far exceeded our expectations. We’re hearing from a wide variety of young New Zealanders, but particularly those who are considering careers in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing or zoology and animal husbandry. But it’s not all about the big animals, such as lions, elephants and rhinos.’

FreeMe is a rehabilitation centre for indigenous wildlife based in the north of Johannesburg. It was founded in 1997 by a group of trained rehabilitators who realised that there was not enough organised care for indigenous wildlife.

Vicki explains: ‘Each year thousand of birds, mammals and reptiles living in Johannesburg gardens or suburbs become orphaned, sick or suffer injuries. Most veterinarians do not have facilities to cater for wildlife, leaving would-be rescuers unable to determine what to do with them. FreeMe has filled this gap. New Zealand volunteers can learn about the specialised treatment from experts and help with care and rehabilitation of some amazing wildlife until they can be released. Many of them will bring that experience back to New Zealand where it may help improve our own conservation management.’

FreeMe assignments are available as two, four, six or eight week options. Volunteers taking longer options are offered various certified courses, which are aimed at helping prepare them for careers in animal care. These include: Orientation, feeding and cage care – given on arrival

• Clinic Skills – after 3 weeks on the project

• Animal First Aid – after 6 weeks on the project

• Ad Hoc Specialised [seasonal] courses: Bat Care, Bird Care and many more

Vicki Kenny says: ` Travelling to and finding volunteer projects in Africa is a big adventure, but a lot of people do need expert help in finding the right placement. We make it easy to organise and find the perfect volunteer holiday so you can experience a life changing adventure overseas, safely and legally.’


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