Do you want to understand the challenges that animals face in India? Let’s learn about Claudia from South Africa’s experience volunteering with animals on the outskirts of Bangalore, India.
For further visual experiences, you can also check out her photography site where she shares some beautifully captured scenes.
What was a typical day for you like volunteering with animals at the Animal Center?
Unless you’ve worked with injured and displaced animals before, expect to be emotionally challenged. Besides assisting with some promotional work, I was involved with the rescue, rehabilitation and release of urban wildlife. One day I was bumping around in the rescue vehicle and the next I was trying to help coax an injured, venomous snake into a plastic tube so that it could be treated by a wildlife vet. In this type of environment, every day is different from the next and it is advisable to take things as they come. In fact, that piece of advice goes for every day in India.
What is your opinion on India and it’s attitudes towards animal rights and protection?
I believe that culture, society and religion all play a major part in the animals right and protection movement in India. In this regard, I actually feel like the movement is loosing ground, especially as materialistic concerns take precedence in the cities. Fortunately there have been two significant animal rights and protection movements in India, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO) and the Pan African Animal Welfare Alliance (PAAWA).
The animal rescue center where I was based focuses on the rescuing of urban wildlife, however there are a number of animal rescue centers that also specialise in treating domestic and livestock animals. Interestingly, despite their holy status, cows often suffer unbearably in India. For more information on that, watch this short documentary.
Is there any way to better prepare yourself for the volunteering with animals internship that Leave UR Mark didn’t mention to you?
Prachi Jain, Marketing Director at Leave UR Mark, did a fantastic job of preparing me for India. However, if you’re reading this and you’re an animal lover, be prepared to have feelings of sadness overcome your thoughts when initially presented with the struggles of many of the stray animals you’ll see wandering the streets. Open sores, deformed joints, missing body parts and shrunken bodies are repetitive sights. Do not think of the hardship of their short lives now, but rather, focus on the time when they no longer feel pain.
I also put aside three weeks aside for after my internship to go and do some further traveling in India. I would highly recommend this. Go explore.
What are the top 3 lessons you have learned from doing an animal welfare internship in India?
I learnt the value of living in the moment and taking on challenges and obstacles as they come my way. I’ve found that, oftentimes, making the best of a situation was as easy as grounding myself in that instant and shrugging away my irritation with a simple, “it is what it is.”
I learnt to thrive in chaos. I learned how to stand my ground and to look like I knew what I was doing when I actually had no idea. I found myself returning home with more assertion, control, and belief in myself.
Patience, patience, patience. You’ll learn to appreciate all the mundane tasks back home, trust me.
Do you think this is an important internship for those interested in animal welfare / conservation to participate in? Please explain.
Yes, you will never be able to experience this anywhere else in the world. Being able to get your hands dirty while rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing baby barn owls, macaque monkeys, Indian cobras and other indigenous Indian urban wildlife is a unique and special experience.
What advice can you give to future interns who want to do the Animal Volunteering program in India?
There will be many opportunities for you to help and assist with the wild animals during this program, but even though stepping out of your comfort zone is important, know your limits and boundaries. Be responsible while working with wild animals in India, you are accountable for your own safety in this regard.
Interested in animal rescue and rehabilitation in India? Apply for our program here.