I love hearing from people doing great things for conservation and making a difference so I'm delighted to present a guest blog from Anders Gray who is keen to share the virtues of practical conservation work and doing your bit for nature.
Since my early teens I have been volunteering around the world in various conservation projects as well as recently completing a degree in wildlife conservation. I’m now 23.
I have been fortunate enough to work on projects in South Africa with white rhinos and with marine and endemic species in Mauritius, but my passion is for bird conservation closer to home in countries such as Malta, Italy, Cyprus and Georgia.
Anders taking a break from counting flamingoes in Cyprus last May.
I have spent the past five years volunteering in Malta. I've witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly, but I can honestly say I have seen such a positive change. The days where birds are massacred in large numbers have gone. Yes, illegal hunting does still occur but not to the scale is used to be. It's a great place to watch migration in action and I would recommend a visit during peak times. The answer is not to avoid Malta, but instead to go and enjoy the spectacle on offer and make your presence in the countryside known.
Cretzschmar's bunting in Cyprus - taken last May.
I spent autumn 2015 in Georgia working on a new project exploring the local tradition of hunting, in particular on birds of prey. The sight of tens of thousands of birds of prey soaring in the sky above left me speechless. It certainly opened up my eyes and although i witnessed some sad sights, it was amazing to see that by combining tourism and birdwatching, you can contribute to the protection of birds.
A great white egret found shot in Georgia in September 2014
Volunteering takes you around the world and to places you may never go to. You see some incredible sites and meet some inspiring people. I Hope to take part in some more fascinating projects in the near future!
Get involvedMany conservation organisations offer a wide range of volunteering opportunities, so hopefully you are inspired to give it a go. The RSPB has hundreds of volunteering opportunities, so if you’re inspired by Anders, check out our website.