Volunteering in the Amazon – Animal rescue

volunteering in the Amazon

Guest post by Amanda! Who is Amanda?

Amanda is a completing a Masters degree in Sustainable Development and is completing a thesis about red uakaris in Peruvian Amazon. When she finishes, she would like to work as a communicative link between nature – and the unheard voices of nature, animals and children – and public, maybe even decision makers. She adores travelling and hopes that one day she will get paid to do so (a girl can dream eh!) and own a house in Northern Sweden with her own little wildlife reserve caring for injured or abandoned hedgehogs, birds and rabbits.

Volunteering with rescued animals in the Amazon

In August 2015, I travelled to Peru to do an Internship for my MA in Sustainable Development… well, I sort of used my internship to have an excuse to live out my lifelong dream to go to volunteer in the Amazon and work with wild animals at Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm.

I travelled to Iquitos and ended up with my massive backpack standing on a sand sack that was stuck in the ground to make it easier for people to walk through the muddy sand after rain. I balanced and changed from my sneakers into navy blue foam crocs. Little did I know I was going to live in these shoes for four months, with pride!

I was rather unsure if this was the right place since there is another butterfly house, mariposario, that is close to the real Pilpintuwasi and pays boat drivers and guides to bring people there instead. Luckily a big yellow butterfly showed me the way down the correct path.

volunteering in the Amazon

Photo by Christopher Marlow

When I finally arrived, there were five volunteers, seven local full-time workers, and about a hundred animals that have all been confiscated from human-related, often fatal, fates. Pilpintuwasi has nine monkeys running freely on the property – one howler monkey Ali and eight red uakaris (one male (Felix) and seven females). Uacaris only dwell in the Amazon and are very vulnerable to habitat loss and bush meat hunting. It is rather rare to see, let alone interact, with them!

All week between 09:30-16:00 – except Mondays – Pilpintuwasi opens up its doors to the public, so tourists from all around the world can come hear the stories about the animals kept there. One of the biggest tasks you have as a volunteer is to hold these tours in English or in Spanish, maybe both, to increase awareness about the dangers of animal trafficking. While animal pet trade is illegal in Iquitos it is still a huge market and is the reason why many babies are stolen from their mothers, to be sold. Sadly many of these animals later get abandoned when they grow up and their undomesticated, natural wild instincts kick in.

The founder, Gudrun Sperrer owns approximately 17 hectares of land and Pilpintuwasi is just a part of it. The rest is used as conservational area, sometimes even educational for school children to come and see how an untouched rainforest looks like. Education is crucial when it comes to awareness of the importance of forest maintenance and animal protection.

volunteering in the Amazon

At the moment, Pilpintuwasi is in need of volunteers who can come and help. The minimum time commitment for a volunteer is one month, but the longer you stay the better! They are able to use a wide range of skills to help in unique ways – if you are a good writer, fan sewer, fisherman, a PhD student or just a person in need of a challenge, I say go to Pilpintuwasi and donate your time! Help will be appreciated.

Volunteering in the Amazon with Pilpintuwasi is free of charge to be there and you only pay for accommodation and food, which is not much. You can live with one of the workers five minutes from the farm or you can live in a bungalow together with fellow volunteers (you get a nice little life over there with a volleyball field and a pool!). Another option is to stay in Iquitos where WiFi is available and a lot of “gringo” places with food is provided. I personally loved the green curry at Kharma Café near Malacon, but I also could not stay away from the rather questionable ceviche on the street!

volunteering in the Amazon

I want to learn more about volunteering in the Amazon with Pilpintuwasi!

Pilpintuwasi started out as a butterfly farm. Gudrun, the owner, came from Austria to teach English but ended up staying and started collecting butterfly eggs to see what they turned into. In 1995, Pilpintuwasi (that means butterfly home in Quecha) opened up to the public. In 2001, Gudrun received a cardboard box with a little jaguar cub on her doorstep and this was the starting point for Pilpintuwasi to become an animal orphanage as well as a butterfly house and forest conservation NGO. Since 2005, they have been a great tourist attraction and educational centre. Pilpituwasi is always in need of passionate individuals that can give at least one month, preferably at least two months, to really become a part of their work.

Have you volunteered? We would love to hear from you!

If you have volunteered with a small, community-based organisation that upholds the values of responsible volunteering, we would love to hear from you! This wonderful post from Amanda is part of our monthly volunteering guest post series. If you would like to share your story, please email laura@grassrootsnomad.com Thank you!

Don’t forget this volunteering tip, pin the image below!
volunteering in the Amazon

 

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30 Comments
Tanya

Awesome post! I’m a fellow blogger and was wondering if I could nominate you for a liebster award? Interested?

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Grassroots Nomad

Thanks Tanya! I actually participated in the Liebster award last year, but thanks so much for thinking of me!

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Chantell

Wow what a wonderful experience! And it is nice to hear that they don’t charge volunteers (a part from food and accommodation) which I have heard is quite common in South America.

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Grassroots Nomad

Hi Chantell, I completely agree! I’m volunteering in Guatemala at the moment (free) and I know of quite a few other places. Happy to give you the names if you send me an email 🙂

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Brianne Nicole

This seems like such an awesome experience! When I was in Costa Rica I was near an animal sanctuary similar, I hope to return again for volunteer work, great read!

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Grassroots Nomad

Thanks Naomi! Volunteering is a great way to get practical experience while studying 🙂

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Grassroots Nomad

Thanks Kimmie, I had a read of your post and I would love to share your story! 🙂

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Cathy Ries

That’s awesome you do volunteer work as a way to also travel. I have a friend who went to a farm in costa rica and spent 5 weeks there. He loved it and learned about sustainable farming at the same time.

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Grassroots Nomad

I agree Cathy! I’m volunteering in Guatemala at the moment at a rescue shelter for girls and the work is hard emotionally but I’m enjoying the challenge 🙂

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Grassroots Nomad

Hey Kerri, I agree it looks amazing! Such a great way to experience an area instead of just visiting 🙂

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Melissa Legarda Alcantara

What an incredible experience! I’m so happy that you were able to fulfil your dreams of volunteering in the Amazon. Also! I’ve been thinking quite seriously about an MA in Sustainable Development – would you mind terribly if I sent you an email asking you a few questions about it? 🙂

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Grassroots Nomad

Hi Melissa, this was actually written by a guest contributor, but I can email her and she if she minds answering some questions 🙂 Otherwise, I did my undergrad in International Development so there is a chance I could answer some questions for you – send me an email and I’m happy to chat laura@grassrootsnomad.com

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Katie @ The Budget Backpack

That is such an interesting educational track, I wish it had been more popular when I was in school, because it sounds right up my alley. It’s also interesting that it needs to be noted that the volunteering is free; seems that lots of places charge to volunteer. Very interesting read!

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Grassroots Nomad

I agree Katie! But it is never too late to volunteer! I’m volunteering at the moment in Guatemala and I finished studying aaaaaaaaaages ago 🙂

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Jelisa

Amanda, I love your passion and commitment to Sustainable Development. Great work in the amazon. Donating your time is just as good if not more impactful than just donating money!

I also work for a sustainable toilet company. check them out too! http://www.ecotoiletten.com

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Grassroots Nomad

Glad you enjoyed the post, Jelisa – I agree Amanda, your passion for sustainable development really comes through in this article 🙂

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Amanda

Hiya guys and thank you so much for all the kind words. It was a truly wonderful four months and I’m glad I could share this article with you. All the best xx

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Natalie

This is incredible! I’ve always wanted to do something like this after watching my biologist uncle do something similar in the Ecuadorian rainforest each year for over a decade. I can’t do it right now since I wouldn’t be able to leave my young kid for over a month, but I could see this being something that we could both do when she’s older and on break from school! 😀

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Grassroots Nomad

That’s such a great idea Natalie! I would love to how you both get on with it 🙂

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thebritishberliner

‘Love this post. What a marvellous project working with endangered species. I like the fact that we get to have an internal insight as to what it’s like to be a hands-on animal volunteer.in Peru! Well done! 🙂

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Grassroots Nomad

Plenty more of these to come! Next guest post will be about shark conservation 🙂

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Brooke McCall

Such a great concept! So many people are looking to escape their everyday and contribute to something bigger – this is the perfect arrangement for both. Amazing work.

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Grassroots Nomad

Thanks so much Brooke, I agree!! This is my favourite guest post series – I love reading about everyone’s volunteering adventures!

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Sierra

Hi! I was wondering if you remember exactly how much food and board was for this volunteer opportunity?

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