Friday, 23 December 2011 9:45 AM
You might be interested in doing a number of different things during your gap year but if you're keen on becoming a conservation volunteer abroad, one destination that might have everything you're looking for is China.
As well as beautiful sights, memorable landscapes and famous cities, China offers you the chance to take part in wildlife volunteering, as you can help protect giant pandas from becoming extinct.
Getting involved in giant panda conservation could be something you've always wanted to do and, by becoming a volunteer, you are sure to enjoy knowing that you're doing something to keep these majestic creatures safe in the wild.
Giant pandas are indigenous to China and are some of the most endangered animals in the world. They live in the forests and survive off a diet of bamboo shoots and other forms of vegetation.
Over the years, the increase in deforestation, urban developments and farming has meant that the lives of giant pandas have been under threat as their natural habitat continues to shrink.
You could play a role in helping to protect the creatures to ensure that they are able to survive in the wild for generations to come.
By becoming a volunteer in the Shaanxi Province, you will get involved in helping to feed and care for injured or orphaned pandas at the conservation centre.
You will also have to clean out their enclosures, help with the general maintenance of the centre and look after other creatures there, including red pandas and golden monkeys.
Helping to take care of the pandas and monkeys will improve their chances of returning to the wild, which will help boost their natural populations in the country.
By becoming a giant panda volunteer, you will also get a chance to take part in other activities during your stay. For instance, you might enjoy helping the staff to learn English. As such a useful skill to have, your assistance is sure to be greatly appreciated!
You will also have the opportunity to go sightseeing around the Shaanxi Province, where the conservation centre is situated.
This area is home to Xi'an, which is famous for being the location of the Terracotta Army. These models are thought to have guarded the tomb of the First Emperor of China Qin Shi Huang di, dating back more than 2,200 years. The remains of nearly 8,000 life-size statues have been unearthed since 1974 and many holidaymakers from around the world have come to this area of China to see them.
If you are planning to enjoy an entire gap year in China, you might want to combine your time as a giant panda volunteer with travelling around the country for a while.
During your exploration of the nation, you could visit the Great Wall of China, experience the cities of Shanghai and Beijing and explore the mountains of Tibet.
China has plenty to offer you in terms of the different sights, sounds and tastes you will encounter here, but something that you won't be able to do anywhere else is help to protect giant pandas. So, why not make the most of your time in the country and become a volunteer today?