WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
Madagascar's Lemurs (MGF)
Madagascar has been isolated for over 165 million years, creating a biodiversity resource of global significance, with over 80% of species found nowhere else on Earth, including leaping black lemur, Hawk's sportive lemur and Claire's mouse lemur, the former being very popular with visitors as a result of the unusual manner in which it traverses open ground. It is mainly found in trees and is a capable jumper, but where, as a result of the dispersal pattern of its favourite trees, it cannot jump, it crosses unjumpable spaces by sashaying sideways on its hind legs with its arms in the air! Sadly these beautiful creatures are threatened – which is why programmes such as this are so vital.
Other interesting creatures found here include an abundance of reptiles, such as tortoises, snakes, iguanas and six species of chameleon. There is spectacular bird life and over three quarters of the flora are endemic, with palms and more orchids than in all of mainland Africa.
This incredible flora and fauna, unique in its ability to resist the region's aridity, has led naturalists to describe Madagascar's forests as "the eighth wonder of the world".
Protecting Marine Wildlife (MGM)
Madagascar's human population has doubled since 1960, leading to increased deforestation and overgrazing, which in turn has caused massive soil erosion and desertification and damage to the marine ecosystems as a result of pollution and runoff.
Through marine SCUBA and snorkel surveys you will map coral, identify reef and commercial fish and record marine species, including fish, dolphins and turtles. Diving under the supervision of a professional dive officer, you will become confident and comfortable underwater. Your results will determine the biodiversity of these waters and help formulate management plans.
Other activities include surveying mangroves, a vital buffer against elements such as tsunamis, and also documenting coastal bird and reptile populations, an important part of the coastal ecosystem.
*For volunteers on the marine project for up to 2 weeks you have the opportunity to complete your PADI Open Water training. For volunteers on the project for more than two weeks you'll need to complete the PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water training in order to take part in the marine surveys.*
Lack of Foreign Language Teachers (MGT)
The majority of primary school age children and 36% of secondary school age children attend school. However, schools are severely under funded and there is an unequal distribution of educational resources across the country. Often poor and rural communities can only attend seriously disadvantaged public schools, meaning that there is a need for diligent volunteers who are willing to come and teach and make a difference. Depending on the time of year, for example during the long summer holidays, you may be teaching adult lessons to members of the village, held either at camp or in the church.
The vast majority of the population speaks only Malagasy and there is a lack of foreign language teachers. Your help can give children and adults a sense of confidence, encourage their enthusiasm and ambition, and even improve their opportunities for the future. To teach, you will need to be patient, flexible, a confident communicator and able to use your initiative and imagination. It would be helpful to have beginner's level French, but you will have plenty of opportunities to learn! Lessons will be fun and interactive as you develop the pupil's confidence and conversational skills.
Students will be interested in life where you come from. You may be able to get involved teaching other activities such as sports, music or science, if you are interested and have the relevant skills. There will also be the possibility of working with our field conservation programmes to arrange collaborations for environmental education.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
This is a specimen itinerary for a 3 week project and the order and duration of the project components is subject to change. The 6, 9 and 12 week project option will mean more time on each project component. Timing of Marine, Teaching and Forest phases may vary depending on the time of year you depart.
The 2 week project option allows you to take part in your choice of 2 projects from those listed above, each for 1 week.
Day 1 & 2: Orientation
Arrive in Nosy Be and receive orientation and briefing by the Frontier staff on the beach camp.
Week 1: Diving and marine conservation
The camp is the sociable hub of Frontier-Madagascar and is perfect for relaxing and enjoying spending time with your group at the end of a busy day of diving. Whilst completing this project, you will be able to gain your PADI Open Water diving qualification ($595 extra), an internationally recognised certification. The research programme within the Bay is very exciting and dynamic. The priority for this phase will be BSP (Baseline Survey Protocol) although other activities will be included: Rapid Assessment Protocol (RAP), collaborating and adding to underwater species lists, sediment traps – setting and analysing, algae/coral quadrats to monitor phase shifts, benthic surveys to assess the extent of pink line syndrome, nutrient water testing across the bay, mangrove survey work and various types of socio-economic work, such as village workshops for PADI Aware, interviewing local fishermen and study trips to the fish markets. With such a wide array of activities on going you are unlikely to be able to do everything, especially with dive training to fit in, so please be realistic. Diving regularly in the waters of the Indian Ocean over perfect coral reefs, amid spectacular fish, turtles and rays is an experience you will never forget.
Week 2: Forest conservation
You will have the chance to explore the forest of Nosy Be, and maybe even further afield on the mainland or local islands on an infamous satellite camp. You will experience a truly remote environment, spotting rarely seen wildlife along the way. You may have the chance to carry out opportunistic wildlife spotting as you travel.
Yo could be taking part in any of the following:
Small mammal and lemur sampling
Reptile and amphibian sampling
Opportunistic observation of birds, reptiles and mammals
Week 3: Teaching English
Your work schedule will cover a comprehensive, varied and enjoyable teaching programme which will engage you fully with your pupils and awaken your creativity and initiative. You may be helping a local teacher at the school as well as being required to take control of your own lessons, which will encourage you to formulate ideas and develop your teaching skills and techniques. You may be involved with activities such as marking pupil's work and producing an inspiring teaching strategy, including preparing homework and assembling innovative and effective lesson plans.
As well as this you, will have the opportunity to help with lots of extracurricular activities which will vary extensively depending on your personal skills and interests – whether it is helping to organise a school show or playing football with the super competitive and highly skilled local kids. You may even get the chance to join the Frontier marine or forest camps for their regular Friday night themed parties, depending on the overall work programme. The teaching programme is demanding but thoroughly rewarding and is excellent preparation for anyone looking at a career in teaching or who is just keen to get exposure to this worthwhile field of work. Whatever you decide, you are sure to gain huge satisfaction from inspiring these communities, whilst significantly enhancing your own skills and experience.
Day 21 Travel to the airport and prepare for departure
You will be dropped off at the airport in time for your return flight.
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!