Header image courtesy of Orangutan Foundation
With human activity impacting our natural environment and the species that share this planet with us, it is increasingly upon us to save the animals that we have uprooted, poached, or generally harmed. Whether you are looking to give back to a specific animal or country or trying to teach your kids (or yourself) about the importance of conservation, here are some great charities from across Asia that are doing exceptional work to save the animals that inhabit the Earth.
Rooted in the ancient practices of creation as well as the “law of karma,” the Dhyan Foundation has service and charity as its cornerstones. As such, this grassroots organisation has made animal welfare an integral part of its initiatives. Volunteers rescue, rehabilitate, and take care of any animal in need, and the Dhyan Foundation currently has over 30,000 cows in its care, as well as dogs, cats, monkeys, camels, and more in its 30-plus gaushalas (cow shelters) across India. You can support the Dhyan Foundation by “adopting” a cow or dog.
When a couple of English teachers in Harbin took in a handful of petrified dogs from the local slaughterhouse in 2016, Harbin Slaughterhouse Survivors was born. It has grown leaps and bounds since then, and the group mainly rescues animals from the dog meat industry—but not through buying directly as that supports the trade. Harbin Slaughterhouse Survivors either receives dogs through second-hand rescue (when other shelters buy and then give the dogs to Harbin Slaughterhouse Survivors) or when markets close. It has rescued over 3,000 dogs since the beginning, and also some foxes, sugar gliders, pigs, rabbits, chickens, ducks, minks, pigeons, hedgehogs and geese. You can support Harbin Slaughterhouse Survivors by donating here.
Elephant welfare has long been a topic of concern for both the Karen hill tribe of Northern Thailand and Chiang Mai locals, so in 2014, they partnered to form the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, an ethical and sustainable project that supports and cares for the elephant population while allowing outsiders a chance to witness the grandeur of these creatures. With locations across Chiang Mai, Phuket, Pattaya, and Koh Samui, it is a great opportunity to learn how to feed, bathe, and play with elephants, as well as how to make paper from elephant poop! You can book a visit here.
Protecting one of the most endangered species in Asia, the Orangutan Foundation works tirelessly to save not just the animals themselves, but also their tropical forest habitat, working with local communities to promote research and education. Orangutan Foundation operates across Indonesia in the Tanjung Puting National Park, the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, and the Belantikan-Arut region to conserve a total of over 8,000 critically endangered orangutans and over 1,745,000 acres of habitat. One of the highlights of its work is supporting the birth of new orangutans in the wild—since 2003, the foundation has seen 92 newborns in Lamandau itself. You can give to the initiatives here.
Committed to protecting the majestic snow leopard and its mountain habitats in India, China, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia, the Snow Leopard Trust accomplishes this by conducting research to understand its needs, address threats in the communities, and raise awareness for this endangered species. Some of the incredible work is conducted in tandem with local communities and enterprises, such as helping women to produce handicrafts from the wool of their livestock, installing livestock insurance funds, and providing educational programmes for adults and children. By ensuring that the people in the habitat of the snow leopard are well-informed and their livelihood is preserved, it increases the ability for man and animal to coexist. You can take action to help here.
Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society is dedicated to the conservation of whales, dolphins, and porpoises, specifically the Chinese white dolphin, which serves as a symbol in Hong Kong and forms an important part of the fragile marine ecosystem. Through research and education, the charity aims to raise awareness about these creatures in Hong Kong and holds seminars and talks across educational institutions. It is also active in petitioning against ferry traffic, new construction, and even marine parks that can damage the habitat or the dolphins themselves. Most recently, the HKDCS has campaigned to have Ocean Park Hong Kong announce its plans for the retirement of captive dolphins. Join a dolphin research trip here to learn more about what the HKDCS does.
Since 1998, Animals Asia has been devoted to preventing harm done to bears during bile farming. It has since successfully signed a memorandum of understanding with the Vietnamese government to completely end bear bile farming in the country by 2022 and is now working with authorities in China towards ending the trade. In addition to these incredible achievements, Animals Asia also provides sanctuaries to rescued bears, works to end the cat and dog meat trade, and also participates in captive animal welfare, campaigning to end abusive animal practices in zoos and safari parks across Southeast Asia. You can buy merch to support the cause here.
Everyone knows and has enjoyed Ocean Park—including its many animals—but its Conservation Foundation also works to fund a number of research projects on cetaceans, giant pandas, and many other species. Ocean Park Conservation Foundation is involved not only in conservation but also in education, informing the next generation of scientists, ecologists, and conservationists. It has also led the successful “No Straw Campaign,” encouraging individuals, corporates, and schools to reduce their use of single-use plastics. Partnerships with F&B organisations included Café de Coral, Delifrance, KFC, and Pizza Hut. Become a friend of the foundation here.
Named after the Philippine eagle, the Haring Ibon, the Haribon Foundation was established 50 years ago with a mission to conserve biodiversity. Its four pillars consist of encouraging sustainability, empowering people, conserving sites and habitats, and saving species. In particular, the Haribon Foundation works to protect the critically endangered bird that is its namesake, along with other Philippine birds such as the dulungan. Currently, there are only 400 pairs of Haring Ibon in the wild. It is one of the largest eagles with a wingspan of two metres, and requires 10,000 hectares of forest for survival—therefore, habitat conservation is also key. Support bird conservation here.
Perhaps the most well-recognised animal charity in the world, the World Wildlife Foundation works across continents, species, areas, and climates to conserve nature and reduce pressing threats to life on Earth. With each country or region having its own specialised team of experts focusing on conservation and biodiversity issues, you can learn a lot through their programmes. In Hong Kong, you can visit one of many visitor centres, including the Mai Po Nature Reserve or Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park. It also provides in-depth information about specific endangered animals, such as tigers, giant pandas, green turtles, Chinese white dolphins, black-faced spoonbills, sharks, and bluefin tunas. Become a member and support the WWF here.