Join this project to make an active contribution to animal conservation by caring for stray dogs and cats on the island district of Ko Lanta in Southern Thailand. Several of the animals were left behind by workers who helped to rebuild the island after the devastating tsunami in 2004. This project is dedicated to providing safety and care for needy dogs and cats. Become part of a team of volunteers and get ready for enriching experiences as you take care of animals every day.
To the south of Thailand lie the twin islands Ko Lanta in the Straits of Malacca. The tranquil islands with approximately 20,000 inhabitants are bordered by white sandy beaches which merge into the constantly warm water of the Andaman Sea. Life moves at a leisurely pace and mass tourism has not yet taken over. Most of the locals are fishermen or farmers, but you will also find a few immigrants of Chinese descent and a handful of Europeans, Australians and US Americans who have all discovered the beauty and magic of this area. NATUCATE will help you to experience the enchantment too.
The project to protect the strays on the Thai island of Ko Lanta was founded in 2005, when reconstruction work began, after the tsunami in the previous year. The project tries to improve the situation for stray dogs and cats through an extensive sterilisation programme and in 2010 an Animal Sterilisation Centre was built. In this way, uncontrolled breeding can be prevented and the animals are no longer exposed to hunger, injury, disease and violent death. This animal welfare project also deals with sick and injured animals. A mobile clinic visits the neighbouring islands to sterilise and inoculate the animals there. At the same time, the initiative endeavours to make the locals aware of the strays’ predicament and respect them. To do this, the situation is explained to children in schools in order to create a better relationship between man and animal. You can play an active role in this project in the form of voluntary service and make a lasting difference to the animals’ living conditions.
To get to Ko Lanta, you need to book a flight to Bangkok, then take a connecting flight to Krabi, Trang or Phuket, which you can probably book so that it leaves just a few hours after you have arrived in Bangkok. When the plane arrives in Krabi you can either continue by bus to Ko Lanta or the project management will organise a private taxi for you. Within two hours you will be in Ko Lanta, during which time you will have made two ferry crossings. Alternatively you can fly to Trang or Phuket and continue from there by bus and ferry to Ko Lanta. You should reckon on at least five hours for this part of the journey. As you can see, there are three simple ways to reach the beautiful Thai twin islands and do something to help the stray animals living there.
On arrival at the animal welfare centre on Ko Lanta, you will be welcomed by the employees and shown around. You can use the day of arrival to acclimatise and settle into your accommodation before being given a better insight into the project the following day. A roster for the six-day week will be compiled, listing when which helper will be working on the animal protection project. If you wish you can of course invest even more time helping the needy dogs and cats. Doing voluntary service in the animal protection project on Ko Lanta is an exciting experience: no two days are the same and the international participants fulfil a wide range of duties. You will take the dogs for walks on the beach, play with kittens and wash the animals.
You will soon have a good relationship with them as you will also feed them and administer medication. Other typical tasks involve cleaning the centre and scouring the island for more animals in need. The animal welfare centre also has a veterinary practice which works on a charitable basis. If you are a prospective or trained vet, then you can help here too. Doing voluntary service in this rescue base for stray dogs and cats, you will be making an important contribution to the wellbeing of animals in Thailand. The dogs and cats will benefit from your commitment and you will learn much that is new. You will be able to discuss things with other volunteers, as there are usually six to twelve animal rights’ activists working on the programme at any one time.
Please note that the project is not a petting zoo and that you should take your responsibilities seriously, despite the close contact with the animals.
The aid programme in Ko Lanta provides you with accommodation which you will share with someone else of the same sex. If you are travelling with a partner, then of course you will be able to share a room together. A much appreciated refreshment in the Thai heat are the cold showers in the accommodation. The room is equipped with a ventilator. Bed linen is provided but you must take your own towels. The very basic accommodation is directly on site and has a WLAN connection. During the project you'll be provided with breakfast and lunch in a nearby restaurant five days a week (Monday through Friday). At the weekend and in the evening you need to take care of your meals yourself. If you want to prepare exotic delicacies from the local market, you can do so in the communal kitchen. But since Thai cuisine is excellent and eating out in the numerous restaurants and bars nearby is not expensive, you don’t necessarily have to do any cooking at all. The aid programme accommodation provides the ideal opportunity for getting to know other volunteer animal lovers and making new friendships.
Everybody interested in volunteering abroad should be able to adjust to entirely unfamiliar standards of living in their future host country. Therefore, we would like to point out the importance of being flexible and adaptable regarding the accommodation and sanitary facilities provided by the project. Those are very basic and – depending on the project – cannot be compared to European standards. The equipment and furnishings are limited to a minimum; air conditioning is not available. Depending on your host country occasional power blackouts or water outages are quite common. Please contact us if you have further questions about your accommodation. We are pleased to provide you with comprehensive information since we would like you to feel entirely prepared for your time abroad.
No question about it: you should join forces with the other volunteers and explore Ko Lanta and the surroundings in your spare time. The long, white, sandy beaches are waiting to be discovered and the turquoise blue water is predestined for swimming. And don’t forget the realms under the water surface! You can go snorkelling in the crystal-clear sea and marvel at the diversity of the underwater world. Equally as exciting are the typical long tail boat excursions through the mangrove forests. A historic fishermen’s village gives an insight into local culture, while the many bars and discos provide a perfect end to the evenings. When the project is over, volunteers frequently decide to explore other popular destinations in Thailand together, including Krabi, the Phi Phi islands and Phuket.
Ko Lanta consists of two islands: the larger and livelier Ko Lanta Yai, and the calmer Ko Lanta Noi. Life here is still tranquil as the islands have not been affected by mass tourism. The 2004 tsunami hit Ko Lanta hard, but major reconstruction work is removed any indication of the destruction. The only reminder of the rebuilding work is the large number of stray cats and dogs which were left here by workers. The increasing number of stray cats and dogs became more and more of a problem for the locals. For this reason, the project was launched in 2010 to take up the cause of stray animals.