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Madagascar Lemur Conservation

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Madagascar Lemur Conservation

Research and conserve the most endangered primates in the world. Help us to gain a better understanding of their ecology and implement practical conservation measures to conserve their habitat.

Prices from US$295

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, which is attributed to 88 million years of separation from all other land forms. 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, with 101 currently recognised lemur species in Madagascar, all of which are believed to have evolved from a single colonising ancestor who reached this isolated island some 50 million years ago. Madagascar is considered one of four global hotspots for primates despite being less than a tenth the size of some of the other regions. Unfortunately, Madagascar is also one of the most heavily impacted countries in terms of habitat loss, with some estimates indicating that almost 90% of native forest has been lost, leaving very fragmented small pieces of forest left. This, in addition to subsistence hunting, has decimated lemur populations across Madagascar; with recent assessments by the IUCN now showing that lemurs are the most endangered group of vertebrates in the world and 94 species being classified as threatened with extinction. 
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. In addition to lemurs, Madagascar, and its island of Nosy Be, is filled with rare and endemic reptiles and amphibians, including both the largest and smallest chameleon species in the world and thousands of bright and beautiful, rare and endemic, birds and butterflies. 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 Here nature seems to have created a special sanctuary whither she seems to have withdrawn to experiment with designs different from any she has created elsewhere.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 this tantalising early account, 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.
 
So journey with us to our current location in Northern Madagascar, an area which represents a transitional habitat between the floral communities of both East and West, an area renowned for its high species diversity and high levels of endemism and comprising one of the most threatened forest habitats in Madagascar - the seasonal humid forests of the Sambirano biome.

The Frontier-Madagascar wildlife conservation project is currently based on the 'scented island' of Nosy Be, famous for its vanilla, ylang-ylang and mangoes. Whilst on the wildlife conservation 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, assessing the status of the island's lemurs. Working alongside other dedicated volunteers, you’ll help to monitor the distribution and abundance of lemurs on the island and their habitat preferences, in order to assess how they are responding to human induced stress factors, such as deforestation, habitat fragmentation and other forms of anthropogenic disturbance. You may also have the opportunity to be part of our reforestation programme, designed to help reforest areas and create natural wildlife corridors for the lemurs to move safely, and socio-economic surveys with the local people, to determine the best methods of land management for lemur populations. Depending on the time of year and length of stay, you may also have the chance to be involved in either the building, installing or monitoring of nest boxes, which provide the lemurs with ‘houses’ where natural areas may be lacking.

On this project you will directly contribute to important research, aiming to inform local government about how to manage the remaining forests and conserve their invaluable natural assets. You will learn an array of surveying techniques and have a chance to contribute to the local community through our education outreach days. But of course it is not all work and after a hard day or night trekking and exploring, you can always take advantage of the camp’s seafront location and relax on the golden beaches, snorkel in the crystal clear waters or play football against the local village!

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS

  • Discover strange and beautiful Madagascar
  • Study the most endangered primate in the world in one of the world's most biodiverse regions
  • Make lifelong friends and return with incredible stories, photos and memories

FAST FACTS

Location Madagascar
Activities Night and day surveys to monitor lemur populations
Building, installing and monitoring nest boxes
Reforestation work
Habitat surveys and mapping of vegetation
Get involved in surveys on many other species: birds, butterflies, reptiles, lizards and invertebrates
Assessing human disturbance
Recording how local communities use their precious natural resources
Relax on beautiful beaches and snorkel in warm waters to discover the marine life as well
Transport Airport pickup weekly on a Monday. Alternative start dates possible, additional £35 applies for pickup, please speak to an adviser
Transfer to town centre and beach camp from Nosy Be Airport weekly on a Monday
Accommodation Communal beach camp

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Before you go 

 

 

 

Pre-departure support & documentation
Travel & medical advice & documentation
Equipment advice
Discounted medical kit
Free Frontier t-shirt
UK residential briefing weekend including food, accommodation and training (extra cost applies)
In-country Food
Accommodation
Airport pickup weekly on a Monday. Alternative start date possible, additional US$60 applies for pickup, please speak to an adviser
Internal ground transfers & in-transit accommodation weekly on a Monday. Alternative start dates possible
Local orientation and training
In-country emergency support
24-hour international HQ back-up
Vocational qualification diploma or certificate in Tropical Habitat Conservation or CoPE available (4 week+ volunteers)
PADI scuba diving courses available extra cost applies (subject to availability)

 

QUALIFICATIONS

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.

WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?

Help conserve species found nowhere else on earth

Nosy Be's fauna includes three species of lemur: the diminutive mouse lemurs, which are the smallest primates on earth, the black lemur and the Hawks sportive lemur. This project aims to help conserve the lemurs of Madagascar through scientific data collection and more practical methods designed to improve their habitat, which you will have the chance to get involved in whilst on the project. Frontier is currently collecting data on all species of lemur on the island through a series of night and daytime surveys designed to study their populations within various habitat types in order to assess their needs and preferences. This includes detailed study of the plants and structures within the habitat, from determining individual species of plant and tree to estimating the density of trees in the area. The best proven method for conserving a wide range of species is to reduce human land use from agriculture and urbanisation and reforest the land. In order to achieve this, Frontier is working with local people better to understand their land use and to implement a reforestation programme to maintain a suitable habitat for lemurs and other species. In addition to these activities, Frontier is working with local partners to build, install and monitor nest boxes, which will provide lemurs with shelter in areas where the natural habitat is lacking.

Other species that you may get the chance to see and study include rare and endangered chameleons, turtles, snakes and  geckos, including the superbly camouflaged leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus).There is also a spectacular variety of bird and butterfly life on the island, with the highest levels of endemism of any similar sized area in the world, as well as some elusive tenrecs – a group of mammals that are incredibly diverse, filling niches in aquatic, terrestrial, arboreal and fossorial environments,  and resembling everything from otters to hedgehogs.

Empower Malagasy communities

You will be assessing the local flora and fauna of the region through biodiversity surveys of lemurs, but also other mammals, birds, butterflies, reptiles and amphibians, with the aim of informing and educating the local government and communities. It is our goal to leave a lasting impact in the region and to help the local communities appreciate and conserve their local environment and avoid the pitfalls of exploitation. You will interact with the community providing environmental education days, which will enable you to evaluate the impact of the human population on the wildlife and help to develop ideas allowing the community to lead more sustainable lifestyles.

WHAT WILL I BE DOING?

The main aims of the programme are to assess the status of the lemurs in this little studied area and work on practical conservation methods to improve their habitat. We hope to gain insights into how each species is responding to human induced habitat modification and other anthropogenic stresses. It is our aim to discover which species are able to adapt and cope with human interaction and which species may be intolerant to any form of disturbance. By helping us to find out which species are most vulnerable to human disturbance, we can help design specific conservation action plans for better conservation management in the future and inform the local entities responsible for managing the forests.

Your activities will vary based on the time of year and length of your stay, but you can expect to be involved in a wide range of activities, focusing on lemurs, but also with the opportunity to study other Madagascan species. You will be involved in day and night surveys of local lemur populations, as well as surveys on their habitat to determine their habitat needs and preferences and investigate how they are responding to deforestation and other anthropogenic influences. Our reforestation work that you may be involved in centres around working in our tree nursery to grow native plants, which will be replanted in degraded areas to provide additional habitat and protection for lemurs and other species. A programme of building, installing and monitoring nest boxes is exciting work to be involved in, providing essential protection for lemurs where their natural places for shelter have been lost. Other work you can expect to be involved in includes work with the local communities better to understand their land use and to raise awareness around the importance of the species that inhabit their land and the need for reforestation.

If this is your first time doing conservation work, don't worry! It will only take a short while for you to feel totally at home on camp and confident with the science work. Although the work is intense you'll find that living in such a beautiful and inaccessible environment alongside friends who share your passion for conservation will be the experience of a lifetime!

You'll find your team to be a fun, dynamic mix of ages, usually between 18 and 25, although no age limit applies, and experiences, with members who all share a passion about travelling in developing countries and saving endangered life. Your staff will be young, friendly individuals who are highly experienced in their field and many may have volunteered on a Frontier project earlier in their career.

Sample Itinerary*

06:30 - breakfast; bread, sandwiches or cebada
08:30 - day time lemur survey
11:00 – Get involved in some butterfly surveys
12:30 - lunch: rice and beans!
13:30 - work in the tree nursery
16:00 - revision or presentations
18:00 - dinner; rice and beans, or option to eat out in the village
19:00 - night walk for nocturnal lemurs


*This itinerary should only be considered as an example of the kind of activities and timescales to expect.  Actual itineraries may vary depending on the season and the requirements of the project.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I ARRIVE?

Volunteers arriving weekly on a Monday will be welcomed by a Frontier representative at Nosy Be airport. From here it's a short taxi or minibus ride from the airport to the centre of the vibrant town of Hellville. If you arrive before noon, you will transfer to your project site and be introduced to the Frontier-Madagascar programme on the same day. If you arrive later in the day, you will stay overnight at the Frontier volunteer house in town and transfer to your project site the following day. You will meet staff and receive some initial project briefings, including an introduction to the work programme and to the field research techniques used, as well as being given health and safety lectures, so make sure your medical kit is complete and start reading your Safety and Medical Guides now.
If you are joining for the 4 weeks project you will be transferred back to the town of Hellville from where you can reach the airport or start your onward independent travel. Independent travellers arriving on dates other than weekly on a Monday can arrange a separate airport collection at an extra cost of US$60 by contacting the camp staff.
 

WHERE WILL I BE STAYING?

During the project you'll trek each day from the main campsite on the beach at Nosy Be, along with other Frontier volunteers and staff, to distant and remote sites in the forest to conduct the field work. We aim to provide you with a unique and memorable living experience. The Frontier field camps are designed to blend in with the surrounding natural environments. They consist of a collection of tents and shelters sometimes incorporating simple local dwellings constructed by Frontier volunteers working with local staff, using traditional building techniques and locally sourced materials. Your beach camp will make no permanent or intrusive impact on the environment and will provide you with a special home during your stay.

Life on camp is simple and fun. We believe that part of the excitement of journeying to a foreign country comes from immersing yourself in the local communities and living at one with nature. In your beach camp your "shower" may consist of a river-pool, jug or bucket of water or you will wash in the sea and you will be cooking over an open fire, so prepare yourself for the simple, low footprint, unencumbered lifestyle! When you are trekking away from the base camp you may stay on a "satellite camp" which may consist of a mosquito net pitched in a remote clearing. You will help run camp from day to day, taking turns to cook, collecting firewood, purifying water and carrying out other essential camp maintenance duties.

At the end of your period of field work you will enjoy a few days of well deserved rest and relaxation with swimming and snorkelling in the fabulous crystal clear offshore waters.

WHAT WILL I BE EATING?

Camp food is basic and nutritious and consists largely of rice, vegetables, beans and noodles, all of which are purchased locally in order to help support the local economy. Luxuries such as chocolate, peanut butter and drinking chocolate must be imported from the local town, so make sure you stock up before heading to the field! Part of your role on camp will be to help with the cooking, so get your cookbooks out now and start practising! Also, with luck you'll be invited to local feasts and festivals – a great way to meet locals and enjoy local culture.

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ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

The Frontier-Madagascar camp is great fun and in your spare time you'll have opportunities to swim in waterfalls and play football and beach / river volleyball against the mostly unbeatable local teams. You can socialise, sit around the campfire, enjoy a traditional Saturday night themed camp party, play chess, poker or backgammon or join in a camp quiz night. After a long hard day of trekking and working in the field you may wish to relax with a drink and sway in the camp hammock, if you've made one, chatting to your new friends under a tropical sky lit by a million twinkling stars, before drifting off to sleep to the exotic calls that fill a tropical night.

A range of adventure and cultural activities, such as visits to remote villages, dive trips, and quad biking are available. Talk to our local staff teams to fix these with local providers and tour operators.

Scuba diving courses may be available (subject to availability of spaces and time constraints).

Dive courses run monthly commencing on the first Monday of the month

  • Single Day snorkelling off the boats US$17
  • Single Day Dive US$51
  • Double Dive US$85
  • 4-dive package US$170
  • 10-dive package US$340

COURSES*

  • Discover Scuba Diving US$110
  • Open Water Dive Course US$595
  • Advanced Open Water US$561
  • Emergency First Responder US$221
  • Rescue Diver US$595
  • Dive Master US$1,275

*Medical certificate is mandatory for participation in dive courses

Modern conveniences

Hellville - 1 hour boat journey at own cost

  • Attractions e.g. Lemurland, Donia Festival
  • Banks / ATMs; Bank of Africa, BFV-Société Générale, BNI-CL
  • Bars / cafes
  • Boats to the mainland & Boat Hire
  • Hostels and hotels
  • Internet cafe
  • Medical clinic
  • Nightclub
  • Pharmacy
  • Post office
  • Street food
  • Supermarket
  • Taxis to the rest of the island
  • Telecom office
  • Traditional markets
  • Western style restaurants
  • Western Union

COSTS

1 week US$1,095

2 weeks US$1,395

3 weeks US$1,695

4 weeks US$2,045

5 weeks US$2,395

6 weeks US$2,645

7 weeks US$2,895

8 weeks US$3,095

10 weeks US$3,545

20 weeks US$5,545

Extra weeks US$345

Christmas week US$295

DEPARTURE DATES

Every Monday

Ideally flights to Madagascar and connections to Nosy Be (Fascene) should be arranged for this arrival date.

DURATION

From 1 week

CHRISTMAS OFFER

This project is available for the special price of US$255 per week over the Christmas period.  Placements starting on the 24th or 31st of December 2018 are eligible for this price, subject to availability.  Please apply using the orange button below and then tell your volunteer advisor that you wish to take part over Christmas.

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Before you go

  • Pre-departure support
  • Travel & medical advice & documentation
  • Equipment advice
  • Discounted medical kit
  • Free Frontier t-shirt
  • UK residential briefing weekend including food, accommodation and training (extra cost applies)

In-country

  • Food
  • Accommodation
  • Airport pickup weekly on a Monday. Alternative start date possible, additional US$60 applies for pickup, please speak to an adviser
  • Internal ground transfers & in-transit accommodation weekly on a Monday. Alternative start dates possible
  • Local orientation & training
  • Project equipment & materials
  • In-country emergency support
  • 24-hour international HQ back-up

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Insurance

For detailed information on flights, visas and insurance, click here.


LEGAL STATEMENT

Please read our legal statement regarding the running of NGO projects.

To apply for this placement, click on "Apply Now" below. Fill in the short application form and one of our advisers will then call you back to answer any questions and make sure this is the perfect placement for you. Applying doesn't cost a penny and you won't pay anything until you're completely happy and you're ready to reserve your place.

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