Earth Day: 7 Wildlife Charities from Around the World


Each year on April 22, Earth Day brings people together from around the globe in solidarity and celebration for our planet.

Uniting more than a billion people, Earth Day’s theme this year, “Protect Our Species,” strives to build a global movement focused on protecting the growing number of endangered and threatened species through awareness, policy change and individual action.

As travelers, we’re privy to some of the Earth’s most amazing experiences, many of which involve wildlife. We probably all have stories of a unique wildlife experience from our travels. However, it’s important that these experiences, and wildlife, be protected for future generations of globetrotters and earthlings. So, as inspiration for Earth Day do-goodery, let’s journey to all seven continents through seven kind wildlife charities that are committed to animal conservation.

North AmericaNational Audubon Society

Birds are arguably the most encountered animals for many people, yet their conservation efforts are often overlooked. But that’s where the National Audubon Society comes in. The National Audubon Society, based in New York City and Washington, D.C., is one of oldest environmental organizations of its kind. State programs, local chapters, nature centers and other Audubon partners are integral in the protection of America's bird population, where efforts center around science, advocacy and education. Those interested in supporting can get involved through one-time, and regular donations, or support specific campaigns. Additionally, people can sign up for the Audubon’s Action Network to get involved with advocacy.

South America: Animal Defenders International – Latin America

As the name presumes, Animal Defenders International (a Kind Traveler partner charity), headquartered in Bogotá, Columbia, leads a variety of animal protection efforts in Latin America. From freeing and caring for circus animals in Guatemala and putting an end to animal testing and bullfighting in Columbia, to exposing animal cruelty in Peru and saving the Andean Bear from extinction, their efforts span much of the continent. You can join ADI’s cause and play your part by signing and sharing petitions, contacting local governments or donating your time and money to the efforts.

Antarctica: Oceanites

Although there aren’t too many people who take the opportunity to visit Antarctica, this icy ecosystem is home to some of the world’s most storied creatures, and the scene for some of mankind’s most loved nature documentaries. As Oceanites’ website puts it, Antarctica is “’Ground Zero’ for understanding how a changing climate affects Earth’s living organisms.” Driving conservation efforts in Antarctica for the last 25 years, Oceanites research on climate change and its effect on penguin colonies is helping shape science-based conservation efforts across the globe. A good starting place for learning about the importance of Oceanites’ work, and Antarctica's ecosystem, is PBS NewsHour's new series, Warnings From Antarctica.

Few places may boast the wildlife fame and notoriety as Australia, where many travelers have discovered the smiling quokka, the snoozy koala, and the bounding kangaroo. Australia’s wildlife is famous all over, and with these endlessly fascinating (and, yes, sometimes poisonous) inhabitants comes a huge environmental responsibility. That’s where the Australian Wildlife Conservancy comes in, protecting 1,700 native species across nearly 4.8 million hectares of wildlife sanctuaries, which they manage, all the while developing and implementing a new model for conservation as they go. If you’re inspired to turn your vacation, or next long run, into a fundraiser to help their cause, the Everyday Hero page is where you can get started.

Asia: Animals Asia

Animals Asia takes a four-step approach to ending animal cruelty: Change through empathy, negotiation, education and investigation. They do this by inspiring others to extend their compassion to all species, working with communities to create sustainable solutions, promoting cruelty-free alternatives and working closely with wildlife experts. In short, Animals Asia has made its mission to promote and restore respect for animals throughout Asia. Whether you volunteer, fundraise, or just spread the word onto your social media platforms, there are plenty of opportunities to help.

Africa: African Wildlife Foundation

In Africa, the journey to wildlife conservation and a sustainable future for local communities also requires navigating the complex political and ecological matters in the region. With the African Wildlife Foundation, however, conservation and a more sustainable future is made possible thanks to a staff of exceptional lawyers, scientists and policymakers who have made it their business to promote human rights alongside wildlife conservation in the area. What’s more, their scope is international, such as their recent call to action to stop U.S. budget cuts that would endanger Africa’s wildlife.

Planning an African safari in the future? African Wildlife Foundation’s website is a good starting place for getting the right information for planning an Africa safari. Plus, AWF hosts safaris, which offer the unique travel opportunity to experience a traditional African safari, while also seeing the foundation's projects and learning about critical conservation issues.

In Africa, the journey to wildlife conservation and a sustainable future for local communities also requires navigating the complex political and ecological matters in the region.

The European WILDLIFE Organization goes about mixing economy with ecology, taking on environmental objectives like regeneration of natural and close-to-natural ecosystems. The ultimate goal of its work is to contribute to the recovery of all European ecosystems and the animals who live there. Support for this organization comes in all shapes, sizes and opportunities, from donations that support the survival of everything from butterflies to bears, to wildlife expeditions. Financial support goes to things like new nature reserves, protecting endangered species and putting animals back in areas where they were extinct in the past.

Cass Megraw is a writer by day, novice chef by night, and vegan for the animals for life. For her, growing up on a remote island (Australia) formed a deep hunger for adventure and finding home in faraway places. Her nomadic writing career has helped turn her travel dreams into a reality, and it was the many experiences along the way that ignited an even deeper passion for animal welfare and the wellbeing of our planet.