Projects Abroad | Environmental Conservation

Malawi: Environmental Conservation Internship

Lilongwe, Malawi


Location: Lilongwe, Malawi

Duration: 4-12 weeks

Start Dates: Ongoing; placements start each Tuesday

Cost: from £2,335 GBP

Includes: all food, accommodation, airport pickup, orientation and all project related activities

Does not Include: Flights, travel insurance, visas and vaccinations


  • Work at an award-winning sanctuary renowned for its high operational standards and exceptional rehabilitation/release success rates
  • Gain hands-on experience in research with exotic species in the field
  • Work with an expert team to learn new skills as well as contribute to a body of research that is of critical importance for Malawi’s conservation management plans.
  • Elephant and samango monkey research
Costs Explained


Malawi has many amazing things to offer, such as very friendly people, amazing scenery and beautiful flora and fauna, however it is also unfortunately a place of great poverty, deforestation, wildlife crime and a degrading environment. This project was set up in 2008 as the only wildlife sanctuary, and has evolved into Malawi’s leading charity, addressing both issues of social welfare and environmental conservation. The project is a member of the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), Malawi’s representative for the Species Survival Network and a founding member of the Malawi chapter of the International Conservation Caucus Foundation.

We also have the wider backing of the world’s leading wildlife charities as well as British, US and German government agencies, and we are mandated by a number of local government agencies to carry out our work, including the Department of National Parks & Wildlife, the Malawi Police Service and the Ministries of Justice and Education. We’re also proud to count HRH the Duke of Gloucester and Virginia McKenna (OBE) as our founding patrons.

We are a registered Malawian NGO founded in 2009. We accept interns and volunteers from all nationalities to help us achieve our goals, learn from our experts in the field and share your knowledge and skills. We have had previous participants become permanent members of our team, so who knows where your placement will lead!

This internship is ideal for those looking for both ‘sanctuary’ and ‘field’ experience, building a range of skills across several conservation disciplines on projects that support both individual animal welfare and species management.

No specific qualification are required for this internship. We can tailor your placement if you are looking for specific skills or experience.

Daily Life

Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation
Join the award-winning animal care team where duties include animal husbandry (feeding, cleaning, enrichment), orphan care, vet clinic support, observations, integrations and re-introductions. Most volunteers choose to spend the majority of their time with the animal care team, where work covers the whole rehabilitation spectrum. Expect to get your hands dirty, work hard and sleep well! Duties include animal husbandry (cleaning, feeding and enrichment), orphan care (policies available on request), vet clinic support, observations, integrations & reintroductions. However, you can also choose to spend your time with the education and community outreach teams. Join the education team at the Wildlife Centre and in classrooms out in the community. The outreach team also welcomes help on their adult literacy and fuel briquette projects.

Wildlife research
Joining the research team, you will be based at the Malawi Research Institute in Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve. Working on our primate and elephant projects, you will be trained in all the necessary research techniques, which may include behavioural observations, individual animals IDs, population census surveys, habitat assessments, data entry and GIS mapping.

Little is known about the migratory and resident elephant populations and baseline data is also needed for our illegal wildlife trade programmes. Activities includes large mammal population monitoring (driving and foot transects), development of ID database, herd counts, diet analysis through dung/seed collection and data entry.

Assessing the effectiveness of our primate releases includes recording pre- and post-release behaviours and other welfare indicators using techniques such as telemetry and GPS. Samango monkeys and baboon hybrids and are also being researched, requiring analysis of their genetic make up.

Other species
A number of other projects are under development, including biodiversity/carnivore/bird surveys. Work will vary depending on the project’s requirements and note that since heavy rains can make access in Vwaza more difficult (usually Dec-Mar), we may need to accommodate you at Kuti instead.

Book with Confidence

Travel & Accommodation

The conservation internship is based at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre and Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve. Note that heavy rains can make access in Vwaza more difficult (usually Dec-Mar), in which case we may accommodate you at Kuti. Volunteers should arrive at Lilongwe Kamuzu International Airport, where they will be met by a project representative. Transfers to the relevant project will be organised and are covered in the cost.

Lilongwe Wildlife Centre
The sanctuary is located within a 200-hectare reserve, home to wild animals such as antelope, crocodiles, small carnivores and hyaena and over 100 species of bird. There are 4km of walking trails running through the forest and along the river, with a bar and café at the visitor centre. It’s just 10 minutes to town with its restaurants, shops and markets, so you are never too far from ‘civilisation’ if you feel like a change of scene. The volunteer accommodation is located in the middle of the sanctuary. The main house has basic mixed dorm-style accommodation sleeping ten, a kitchen, lounge area, bathroom and hot showers with mains electricity. We also have two en-suite chalets (a two-bed and a four-bed) should you wish to upgrade.

Meals are cooked by our local chef every day except on Sunday when extra food is provided. The menu is vegetarian with a mix of international and local dishes. Let us know if you have other special dietary requirements, and volunteers are welcome to buy in other luxuries or meat if they wish.

Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve
The research camp is located on the edge of Lake Kazuni, close to the main gate of the park. Volunteers and students stay in large shared safari tents. There is a large built kitchen, dining and lounge area, a long-drop toilet, bucket showers (water is provided daily from a borehole, stored in camp and heated when needed) and office. There is solar power and although there is no wifi, 3G coverage is available. An outdoor fire and seating area offers beautiful views of the lake and reserve.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided and all meals are vegetarian. Other dietary requirements can be catered for. There is a rota for cooking, with everyone having their turn.

Kuti Wildlife Reserve (alternative to Vwaza during rainy season)
Kuti is located about 90 minutes drive from Lilongwe a few kilometres inland from Lake Malawi. The reserve’s habitats are diverse, ranging from brachystegia and miombo woodland through to grasslands, wetlands, and marshes. The volunteer centre is located in the heart of the reserve. Each chalet can house four volunteers, with two beds in twin rooms. There is also a common area with a kitchen and this shared living space is equipped with solar power, showers, potable water and wi-fi.

There is an on-site chef who cooks three meals a day and specific dietary requirements can be catered for.

Fundraising Help


  • Minimum age 18.
  • Minimum 4 weeks commitment
  • Basic English language skills.
  • Necessary vaccinations- TB test and Malaria prophylaxis compulsory. Rabies vaccinations strongly advised
  • Necessary flight & visas.
  • Full travel & medical insurance – full assistance provided in arranging everything you will need if you choose our Premium Support
Premium Support Upgrade


No. months 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
GBP £2,335 £2,675 £2,985 £3,280 £3,550 £3,805 £4,030 £4,250 £4,450
What’s Included:

Project Fee includes

  • Accommodation
  • All meals and unlimited tea, coffee and drinking water
  • Airport transfers and all work related transport
  • WiFi, T-shirt and local SIM card (please bring an unlocked phone)
  • Training in all relevant departments, plus full support during your stay.
What’s not included:
  • Flights
  • Vaccinations, travel and medical insurance
  • Visa ($75 single entry 30 day visa, plus extensions every 30 days = $10)
  • Additional excursion, nights out, souvenirs and personal expenses such as soft drinks, beers, snacks.

All conservation internships start and end on a Tuesday. It is possible to arrive or leave on a different day, but there is an extra £30 airport transfer fee, and you may miss out on some of the useful inductions.

Most nationalities are required to obtain a $75 visitor’s permit valid for 30 days, with the option to extend for additional 30 days at roughly $10 up to a maximum of 90 days. Check with us when applying

We recommend bringing out a little extra to spend on drinks, meals out and souvenirs. £30 a week should more than cover these, depending on your lifestyle. As an idea of costs for extra trips, you will need about £65-£125 if you want to take a trip to Lake Malawi, dependent on accommodation and activities. A 3 day safari to Zambia would be around £450.

All of the money raised through our volunteer programme, after costs, goes directly into the Wildlife Centre, MAWIRI and the associated projects – without you Lilongwe Wildlife Trust would not be able to continue to operate! Your donation means that we can continue to take in animals, provide the essential medical care that they need, pay local wages and conduct vital research.

My location
Get Directions

Note: Map coordinates are approximate