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Volunteering with Wildlife in Malawi at Lilongwe Wildlife Center

Every year, thousands of people decide to spend their vacation time volunteering with wildlife in Africa. In Malawi, the Lilongwe Wildlife Trust is making a difference in the lives of many animals and they always welcome volunteers to join them.

Lilongwe Wildlife Center sits in the heart of Malawi’s capital and it serves as a wildlife rescue, conservation, and education center. The center reclaimed and revived 90 hectares of urban wilderness to provide sanctuary for orphaned, rescued, and injured wildlife. In 2011, the center was awarded Best for Conservation of Wildlife & Habitats in the World Responsible Tourism Awards.

Volunteer with wildlife in Malawi
Some of the residents at Lilongwe Wildlife Center ©Lilongwe Wildlife Center

Volunteer Programs at Lilongwe Wildlife Center

Lilongwe volunteer programs range from animal care, rehabilitation, and release, to education, public relations, and website design. Volunteers can also contribute to a number of community initiatives that are run by the Lilongwe Wildlife Trust, from their education program to tree planting and fuel briquette projects, all designed to help repair fractured relationships between humans and animals, reduce deforestation, and stop the loss of animal habitats from the selling of firewood. If you have other skills that you think could be helpful, let them know.

There is also the possibility of volunteering at their partner project, Kuti, a wildlife reserve just two hours from Lilongwe where you might have the chance to work in biodiversity conservation and park management. Through the center you can also have the opportunity to volunteer with African Bat Conservation conducting bat research projects.

Be involved in the comunity
Be involved in the community. ©Lilongwe Wildlife Center

The Lilongwe Wildlife Center generally has a “no-contact” policy  with all of their animals, but the young orphans are an exception as they need hands-on care and bottle feeding to survive.

Life as a Volunteer

The work of the volunteers depends on what projects are going on at the time. If there’s anything you’re particularly interested in doing while you visit, it’s worth mentioning it on the application as the volunteer manager can help accommodate this.  You will be able to see for yourself the impact the project has on the lives of individual animals but also the bigger picture of conservation in Malawi itself.

Basic on-site accommodation is provided with hot water and electricity, and a mix of Western and Malawian vegetarian meals are prepared from Monday to Saturday by the Centre chef with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables on offer.

Expect hard but very rewarding work!

Residents at the Center

The center takes in all kinds of wildlife from orphaned baby vervet monkeys to grown lions. The center helps in any way they can.

Bella, the one-eyed lioness, with Simba.
Bella, the one-eyed lioness, with Simba.

Some of the animals at Lilongwe have even made international news. Like Bella, the one-eyed lioness pictured above with Simba. Born in 2002 in a Romanian zoo she was kept in appalling conditions. Her concrete cage was filthy and her small outside area was too cold and snowy for an African lion. She had a number of medical problems that were left untreated and due to poor diet she developed a curve in her spine, making walking difficult for her. She was also going blind due to glaucoma in one eye and cataracts in the other.

As a young lion she was sold to gypsies for use as a tourist attraction but she soon became too big to handle and was sold back to the zoo for breeding purposes. She had one cub but it unfortunately died. This death was soon followed by the death of her mate. In 2007 the zoo closed down and thanks to a campaign by the Born Free Foundation and the group Lion’s Roar, she was moved to another facility where she received the medial care that she so urgently needed. She underwent eye surgery and recovered her strength in this facility. In 2009 she arrived at Lilongwe where she now lives with Simba.

Serval kitten at Lilongwe
Hamu, the serval kitten at Lilongwe. ©Lilongwe Wildlife Center

Meet Hamu. This adorable serval kitten arrived at the center when he was just five weeks old. He was rescued from someone who was trying to sell him on the roadside. Since his arrival, he received round the clock care to ensure he had the best chance of survival. Initially he was bottle fed and eventually he started feeding independently on milk and solid food brought to him at regular intervals throughout the day. When he is ready, he’ll get his own outdoor enclosure where human contact will cease altogether. Once he is fully fit and big enough to fend for himself the aim is for him to be released back into the wild into a nearby national park where he can be a wild cat again.

residents at Lilongwe
Some of Lilongwe residents. ©Lilongwe Wildlife Center

The center not only helps wildlife on their own premises, but they also taking action when wildlife outside the center need a helping hand. Just this month the center has been helping out with a hyena clan relocation. The clan was living in an urban area and residents had grown concerned about these individuals living so close in the neighborhood. The clan was at risk. Together with their research partner Carnivore Research Malawi (CRM), Central African Wilderness Safaris, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, and Lilongwe Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife Emergency Response Unit, the four hyenas were trapped, fitted with radio collars, and released back into the wild in Liwonde National Park.

You never know what might be happening at the center! But one thing is for sure, you can make a difference in the lives of these animals!

For more information visit their volunteer page or email them at for an application form.

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Volunteering in Malawi with wildlife


Cristina Garcia

Zoologist and wildlife photographer. She has worked in the field with jackals, wolves, cheetahs, & leopards. She serves on the Board of Directors of SEE Turtles, a non-profit sea turtle conservation organization.

Read her posts at Travel For Wildlife and see more of her work at Truly Wild, & Our Wild Yard.

Peter Jaud

Sunday 16th of May 2021

hello My Name is Peter Jaud. I am 50 years old. i spend the last 5 Moth in Tansania. i like it verry much. Now i am back in Austria. I work in the Tourist Buissnes. Koock Barkeeper and Organisation for Wedings and other Parties. I am planing to spend the next winter in Afrika. I have been by the lake Malai lake tanganika and lake Viktoria. so now i am looking for something useful to do in my Time in Afrika. I want to spend 1 to 3 Month in volonteer Work. I have a Diving sertifikation and i can teach how to swim. I can start in November maybe you have something for me. I am well aducatit in Afrikan Wildlife and Fisch in the Lakes. Maybe we come together.


Friday 4th of December 2015

Great post! I would love to do something like this.

Cristina Garcia

Friday 4th of December 2015

You totally should Cindy! They always need help. Right now is baby season...lots of orphans coming in that need all the help we can give them to go back to the wild.