The magical Island of Madagascar is famous for its bizarre assemblage of wildlife, its dramatic landscapes and its unique and varied ecosystems. No other island or place on earth boasts such a combination of species richness and endemism! For example, every native terrestrial mammal species found on this huge island is found nowhere else on earth. Most famous of all of its inhabitants though are the lemurs, primitive prosimians, whose name, derived from the Roman Lemures, meaning 'spirits of the dead' alludes to the country's ancient cultural traditions.
There are currently 101 recognised lemur species on the island all of which are believed to have evolved from a single colonising ancestor who reached isolated Madagascar some 50 million years ago. Sadly however, recent assessments made by the IUCN now show that lemurs are now the most endangered group of vertebrates in the world, with 94 species being classified as threatened with extinction. However, lemurs are not the only group of animals in need of help. The amphibian fauna of Madagascar is considered to be one of the greatest on earth, with 238 recognised species and another 182 candidate species currently awaiting classification. Madagascar has sadly already lost over 90% of its original forest cover though and this has put increased pressure on all of the endangered species who live here.
Madagascar is also the centre of diversity for chameleons, with almost half of this old world fauna being found exclusively on the island, including both the largest and smallest species in the world. In Madagascar, there are weird, unique and wonderful forms of life everywhere that you look and the more you discover about each of them, the more amazing they become. This sentiment was summed up perfectly by the 18th century French doctor and explorer, Joseph Philibert Commerson, in a letter to his tutor in Paris:
"Of Madagascar I can announce to naturalists that this is truly their promised land. Here nature seems to have created a special sanctuary whither she seems to have withdrawn to experiment with designs different from any she has created elsewhere. At every step, one meets more remarkable and marvellous forms of life"
Despite these tantalising early accounts, Madagascar is still an island shrouded in mystery and remains relatively unstudied to this day. Myths and legends abound in Madagascar and remain deeply embedded in the collective imagination, adding to the sense of magic surrounding the island.
You will join an elite group of adventurers trekking across some of the world's most remote, wild and spectacular locations in Northern Madagascar, an area which represents a transitional habitat between the floral communities of both the East and West and which is renowned for its high species diversity and high levels of endemism. It is one of the most threatened forest habitats in Madagascar - the seasonal humid forests of the Sambirano biome.
Whilst on the project you’ll discover a huge variety of Madagascar's exotic species, as you trek through rugged and remote regions of this hugely exciting island. Your journey will be incredibly challenging but highly rewarding.
As expedition trainees you will learn all of the necessary leadership and expedition management skills, from how to plan, organise and implement projects to leading your own treks, camp craft, navigation, field safety and an array of surveying techniques.
Working alongside other dedicated expedition volunteers, you’ll help to monitor the distribution and abundance of many groups of animal and help assess how they are responding to human induced stress factors, such as deforestation, habitat fragmentation and other forms of anthropogenic disturbance. Your expedition team will perform important research, assessing and comparing habitats, with the aim of informing relvant local entities as to how to manage the remaining forests and conserve their invaluable natural assets.
But of course it is not all work, and after a hard day's trekking and exploration you can always relax on the golden beaches, snorkel in the crystal clear waters or play football!
Trek through some of Madagascar's most spectacular landscapes
Learn survival and survey skills
Make lifelong friends
Pre-departure planning & preparation
Scientific survey work
Airport pickup first Monday of the month
Transfer to town centre and beach camp from Nosy Be Airport weekly on a Monday
Communal camp and forest camping
Before you go
Pre-departure support & documentation
Travel & medical advice & documentation
Discounted medical kit
Free Frontier t-shirt
UK expedition management training weekend
Airport pickup first Monday of the month
Food - 3 meals each day
Internal ground transfers & in-transit accommodation first Monday of the month
Local orientation and training
In-country emergency support
24-hour international HQ back-up
Vocational qualification certificate in Expedition Management available
A variety of qualifications are available on many of our projects. For example, BTEC certificates and diplomas on our Group conservation projects and TEFL certificates and BTECs on most of our teaching projects. You may also be able to gain a CoPE to support your university application. For more information on these qualifications, please see the qualifications section of our website or ask your volunteer advisor.