Donating to your favorite wildlife organization is a fantastic way to help wildlife conservation, but there are also a lot of other ways — many less obvious — that we can work together, saving animals. Whether you're interested in helping endangered animals, protecting wildlife, or working locally, I've included a number of ways anyone can make a difference.
5 Creative Ways to Help Local Wildlife
You don't have to go to another country to make a difference. You can make a difference right there in your own individual community.
1. Volunteer at Your Local Wildlife Rehab Center
Most wildlife rehab centers run on fundraising and state grants. They count on their volunteers to help with as much as possible. Most look for help:
- Feeding and caring for the animals
- Cleaning enclosures
- Doing administrative work
- Participating in public education and outreach programs
- Transporting injured wildlife to the centers
I worked at a nature center when I lived in Ithaca, New York, and we were always looking for new volunteers to help out with various tasks. And on top of volunteering being rewarding, I was able to gain more experience in my field of study. So, if you're a college student or know of a college student searching out some good volunteer work, this could be a wonderful opportunity.
2. Make Your Garden Wildlife-Friendly
Native plants are incredibly important for supporting local wildlife, as they offer the necessary food and shelter these animals need. This, in turn, boosts biodiversity and helps maintain a healthy ecosystem. For example, if you plant milkweed in your garden, you'll attract monarch butterflies, which rely on this plant for survival. Adding bird feeders and water sources in your yard also supports various bird species and other local wildlife.
Beyond planting, it's equally important to reduce the use of harmful chemicals like herbicides, pesticides, and commercial fertilizers. These substances can harm the health of animals and plants in your area and can contaminate water sources, which are crucial for many wildlife species. Instead, opt for natural weedkillers like those made from vinegar.
Use some materials lying around your home to make your own DIY bird feeders.
3. Join a Wildlife Conservation Committee
Joining a wildlife conservation committee not only allows you to work hands-on with wildlife conservation projects (or you can request something less hands-on), it also provides a platform for educating others and advocating for policies that protect natural habitats and species. By being a part of these efforts, you contribute directly to preserving biodiversity, monitoring and protecting endangered species, and promoting sustainable practices that benefit the entire ecosystem in your area — and the larger world.
4. Volunteer at a Zoo
Volunteering at a zoo is a great way to help with wildlife conservation and the zoo's daily work. When volunteers get involved, especially in making the animals' lives more interesting and fun through enrichment activities, they're really helping those animals stay healthy and happy. Volunteers are also super important for special events at the zoo. These events are not just about having fun; they're about teaching people why protecting wildlife is important and raising money for the zoo's projects.
Another cool thing volunteers can do is teach classes for kids. This is a chance to get young people excited about animals and how to take care of our planet. Even helping with things like birthday parties at the zoo can make a big difference. These activities make the zoo a better place for visitors and teach them about conservation.
Volunteering at the zoo helps allocate more funds towards goals like improving breeding programs for endangered animals.
5. Participate in Citizen Science
Engaging in citizen science projects offers individuals the opportunity to actively contribute to the protection and study of endangered species and their habitats. Citizen scientists help researchers by monitoring and collecting data for specific initiatives, like the Maine Big Night in which, "local citizens head out into the night on the first warm rainy nights of spring to collect data on frogs and salamanders while saving them from an almost certain death as they cross the road. These 'big nights' are important; THOUSANDS of frogs and salamanders migrate on these nights, which means many of them could be lost to vehicle impacts!"
By participating in data collection, research, and wildlife population monitoring, individuals can play a significant role in advancing conservation efforts.
4 Ways to Help Wildlife Internationally
If you're looking to make a difference on an international level, or for a specific endangered species, there are a couple of unique ways to contribute to wildlife conservation around the world.
1. Join the Fight to End World Hunger
There are many countries that struggle to get food to feed their families. In these countries, families will do whatever they can to ensure their village, or even just their children, has something to eat. This leads to poaching, and even though it's for a good reason, it still damages the wildlife population. Joining the fight to end world hunger can help reduce poaching and provide food to those who need it most.
The United Nations World Food Programme has created a way you can help right from home. They've created a game called Freerice that asks you trivia questions. For every answer you get right, a private sponsor provides enough funds to raise 10 grains of rice for various countries. You can take a look at where the money goes by checking out their current emergencies.
There are quite a few other organizations with a mission to end hunger worldwide. Check out a few in our article about giving food donations.
2. Call State Legislators to Support Bans
Calling state legislators to discuss your concerns about wildlife conservation can help tremendously. When you call, it may not feel like you're making a difference, but every additional person that calls raises that issue even higher on the priority list. With enough citizens raising concerns about the problem, legislators notice that this is something many of their constituents deeply care about. The International Fund for Animal Welfare has a list of ongoing legislative initiatives that you can support on its website.
3. Support Education in Developing Countries
Supporting educational efforts in developing countries can help citizens learn about the value of biodiversity and how to help protect the species surrounding them. Even developing a handful of short, informative lessons can help spread awareness about how deforestation and poaching impact wildlife populations and potentially create other revenue streams for the communities. You may even inspire several of them to become conservation experts themselves!
4. Don't Support Wildlife Tourism
Wildlife tourism, like swimming with sea turtles or dolphins, can inadvertently harm the animals and environments it's meant to celebrate. As much as we want to see wildlife up close and even touch some of the wild creatures we see, it's not healthy for them to be put on display for hundreds or thousands of hands each year.
Many activities, like elephant rides or animal photo ops, stress and disrupt natural animal behaviors and habitats, while other forms of tourism can lead to habitat destruction and pollution. As nature lovers, it's crucial to support ethical wildlife experiences, like visiting sanctuaries or reserves that truly focus on animal welfare and conservation.
You'll have to dig deep into individual experiences to determine if it's one that supports conservation or damages wildlife's natural flow.
2 More Unique Ways to Help Wildlife at Home
It can be hard for some of us to get out and about, especially if we have a huge workload with families at home. Fortunately, there are even ways to help without even leaving your home.
1. Embrace Social Media
Spread awareness by creating engaging and informative content about endangered animals, their habitats, and the conservation challenges they face. This can include sharing compelling stories, wildlife facts, conservation tips, and success stories of species recovery, or even fun wildlife names. For example, sharing the story of the successful rehabilitation and release of an endangered animal back into their natural habitat can inspire others to get involved and support wildlife conservation efforts.
2. Become an Educated Consumer
Becoming an educated consumer is a powerful way we can do our part. By making more informed choices, we can directly impact the demand for products that are detrimental or beneficial to wildlife. You can choose to purchase sustainable products, for example. This could mean opting for items made from recycled materials or those that have been produced using environmentally friendly methods. These choices help reduce the strain on natural resources, reducing the impact on our wildlife species around the world.
Another critical part of being an educated consumer involves spreading awareness. Share your knowledge with friends, family, and social networks. Encourage others to make wildlife-friendly choices, too. By doing so, we can collectively amplify our impact and make a significant difference.
The demand for palm oil has led to vast deforestation, particularly in regions like Southeast Asia, posing a major threat to local wildlife. Research other products that may be doing the same and avoid products that use palm oil as a base.
Become the Difference You Want to See
The importance of wildlife conservation goes beyond the preservation of individual species. It's about preserving the intricate web of biodiversity that maintains balance in our ecosystems. Every creature, no matter how small, plays a critical role in maintaining this balance. When a species goes extinct, it creates a ripple effect in the ecosystem, often leading to unforeseen consequences. The importance of wildlife conservation cannot be overstated. It's not just about the wildlife, but about the health of our planet as a whole, and you can create a ripple effect of your own with every action you take to help.