[Editor's Note: As I’ve stated time and time again, volunteering is something that I’ve always been passionate about, and the fact that I can incorporate volunteering into my travels is a very important thing to me. Being an animal lover, I am also very passionate about animal conservation – whether it is the mighty king of the jungle or a small tree frog in the rainforests of Costa Rica… I am pleased to see that I am not the only one getting involved with animal conservation efforts. Thank you to Wan Phing for submitting this honest and emotional post and promoting both voluntourism and animal conservation.
My encounter with the Visayan Deer’s of the Philippines
Where it all started
When I was younger – I was always passionate about endangered animals and ensuring they survived and were protected – but when you’re young the only way of ‘helping’ is donating a small amount on a monthly basis – or perhaps doing a sponsored event to help raise money or awareness.
Whilst I have continued my fundraising and I have maintained my interest in protective organisations for endangered animals – as I’ve grown older I’ve needed to pursue my interest more and actually feel as though I’m helping as much as I possibly am able. For me this has included raising money for conservation projects and actually visiting the habitats of these animals, witnessing them in the wild and spreading the world in person.
I’ve found that being there in person, and witnessing all these beautiful creatures in real life (rather than just ‘sponsoring one in a zoo or resort) is so much more rewarding – and incredible too. And actually being there, helping and seeing my efforts actually translate into real worth – is something I find I’m even more passionate about and want to talk about.
My most memorable experience
One of the most excited experiences I’ve had though, was with the Visayan Deer in the Philippines. Ever since I was a young child and watched the Bambi film – I’ve had a fascination with Deer. I think they’re one of the most beautiful and graceful creatures – both elegant and commanding at the same time. I recall the first time I saw one in the wild, and it simply took my breath away.
The Visayan Deer are also known as the ‘spotted deer’ and are quite a rare breed now, which is why I was so eager to come into contact with them and help preserve their natural environment. It wasn’t easy though – as I already mentioned – these Deer are not only endangered (making them difficult to come across) but they’re also nocturnal too… meaning you have to be seriously dedicated if you want to glimpse these gorgeous creatures in their natural environment. Which I did.
Getting to the Philippines was quite a journey, as the Philippines are located just about as far away from my home-town as possible. It was two flights and about a full day in the air – but it was worth every second.
The Philippines is a beautiful destination – and somewhere I’d recommend for both travellers and people looking for a relaxing holiday too. For most people, the beach resorts would be their first port of call, but for me – my journey would carry on well into the night until we got to the natural habitat of the Deer. In fact, as these Deer are so very shy – they retreat as far away from humans as possible – into the dense, thick forest.
I was staying with other similar travellers (with similar interests to my own) who were also all keen to catch a glimpse of the Visayan Deer. It was great to be lodging with people so investing in the protection of animals – and working together to improve the local environment was so rewarding – and actually resulted in life long friendships.
I’d recommend to anyone in the same situation, wanting to visit conservation parks and witness endangered animals – to visit either on your own or with people who share the very same interest. It’s something that takes a lot of time, and it will definitely test your patience at time too, so you really have to be committed to the cause.
What I took from the experience
First thing’s first, I don’t think I truly appreciated how absolutely stunning these creatures were until I was face to face with them. I was a little overwhelmed actually, being so close to a creature I had been researching for so long. If anything it strengthened my passion for conservation and protection more than I ever could have imagined, and I know that the others in my lodgings who witnessed the same moments as myself, felt exactly the same way.
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About the author: Wan Phing is the online editor and travel writer at AsiaRooms.com. Born in Penang, Malaysia, she has lived in Beijing, London, Benevento, Kuala Lumpur, Manchester and currently resides in Singapore. She loves travel, photography and discovering new trends – so follow her adventures on Twitter!
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