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Madagascar Wildlife Conservation Adventure

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Madagascar Wildlife Conservation Adventure

Discover, monitor and assess the huge variety of Madagascar's exotic and rare species as you trek through remote regions of this hugely exciting island with Frontier-Madagascar.

Prices from $295

The enchanting 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 103 recognised Lemur species on the island, all of which are believed to have evolved from a single colonising ancestor, who reached isolated Madagascar some 50million years ago! Sadly however, recent assessments made by the IUCN now show that the 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 with 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 Here nature seems to have created a special sanctuary whither she seems to have withdrawn to experiment with designs different from any she has created elsewhere.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 un-studied 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 the East and West, an area renowned for its high species diversity and high levels of endemism! 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! The island is home to three species of lemur: Black lemur, Hawk's Sportive lenur and Clair's Mouse lemur, as well as six species of chameleons. 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. Working alongside other dedicated 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.

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 to the local community through our education outreach days. But of course it is not all work, and after a hard days trekking and exploration you can always take advantage of the camp’s beach front 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 wildlife in one of the world's most biodiverse regions
  • Make lifelong friends and return with incredible stories, photos and memories

FAST FACTS

Location Madagascar
Discovering rare Madagascan wildlife
Activities Assessing the biodiversity
Compiling species lists
Setting up trapsites
Leaf-litter surveys
Mapping of vegetation
Assessing human disturbance
Recording how local communities use their precious natural resources
Beach R & R and snorkelling at the end of your trip
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. Alternative start dates possible
Accommodation Communal beach camp

 

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 $60 applies for pickup, please speak to an adviser
Transfer to town centre and beach camp from Nosy Be Airport 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

The projects aims are to contribute to the current understanding of the local environment and help monitor the spectacular array of wildlife found here. Madagascar has been isolated for over 84 million years, creating a biodiversity resource of global significance, with over 80% of species found nowhere else on earth! Nosy Be's fauna includes three species of lemur, including the diminutive mouse lemur (Microcebus), the smallest primate on earth! Reptiles include rare turtles, snakes, geckos, including the superbly camouflaged leaf-tailed gecko's (Uroplatus), skinks and an array of chameleons.

There is spectacular bird 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 small mammals that are incredibly diverse, filling niches in aquatic, terrestial, arboreal and fossorial environments, and resembling everything from otters to hedgehogs.

Desertification & hunting

Madagascar's human population has doubled since 1960, leading to increased deforestation and overgrazing, which in turn has caused massive soil erosion and desertification. Only one tenth of the original forests remain and this situation is rapidly deteriorating as the human population continues to grow. The forests are cut down to provide nutrients and land for agriculture, as well as being used as hunting grounds in the more remote and poor communities.

Empower Malagasy communities

You will be assessing the local flora and fauna of the region through biodiversity surveys of 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 by providing environmental education days. This 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 biodiversity in this little-studied area and compare different habitat types and the effects of human disturbance, which may take several forms. We hope to gain insights into how each species or family of animals 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 relevant national and local entities with responsibility for managing the forests.

Our current projects involve carrying out extensive surveys of the local mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians that exist in the surrounding forests. These surveys are conducted in a variety of habitat types, ranging from primary forest to plantation type habitats along a gradient of human disturbance. Our survey techniques range from setting up canopy or pitfall traps, active searches during both the day and night and behavioural surveys to collecting morphometric data on chameleons and snakes and learning how to record birds by identifying their calls. In addition, we will also be mapping vegetation and assessing disturbance and resource use in the area to build up an accurate picture. For more details on our specific projects and methods as well as our results so far please see our most recent science report.

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 experience, 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*

06:00 - breakfast; bread, sandwiches or cebada

06:30 - bird survey

08:30 - active search for reptiles/amphibians or lemur survey

11:00 - butterfly survey

12:30 - lunch: rice and beans!

13:30 - active search for reptiles/amphibians or lemur survey

16:00 - revision or presentations

18:00 - dinner: rice and beans or option to eat out in the village

19:00 - night walk - active search for amphibians/reptiles

*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, 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 the project for 4 weeks or longer, 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 (extra cost: $60) by contacting the camp staff in Nosy Be. 

WHERE WILL I BE STAYING?

During the project you'll trek each day from the main campsite on the beach on 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 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 with the local communities and living at one with nature. In your beach camp 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, collect firewood, purify water and 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.

Check out our Camp Tour video! 

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.

Ten Most Recent Reviews for This Project

Giant bats, boas and parties on Madagascar Forest  | 13 Aug 2018
Its week eight and all is well on forest camp! The science work is going particularly well and th...

Read more


Rumbles in the Jungle  | 25 Jul 2018
Over the last four weeks the volunteers have pretty much been on the go none stop! We’ve mo...

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Satellite Camps Science Update  | 11 Jul 2018
This phase has seen staff and volunteers constantly on the move, with three satellite camps compl...

Read more


Handling snakes in Madagascar Forest  | 4 Jul 2018
When our flight arrived in Diego, we stepped off the plane into what seemed like another world. I...

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Frontier Volunteer Diaries  | 17 Jun 2018
Camp Lemur has been a hive of socio-economic and scientific activity, with trips to the village o...

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Madagascar Volunteer Diaries  | 3 Jun 2018
Our first phase at Montagne de Francais is revealing an amazing diversity of species, providing s...

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Madagascar Volunteer Diaries  | 15 May 2018
It was back to camp for our final week of collecting data and working on our BTECs. We took two d...

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Madagascar Volunteer Diaries  | 29 Apr 2018
It's a boy! The first definite sexing of a male snake since arrival on camp was just one of m...

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Madagascar Volunteer Diaries  | 1 Apr 2018
Last night we were rudely awaken by a group of 15 crowned lemurs at 2am. One RA was especially ru...

Read more


To the Bat Cave!  | 18 Mar 2018
The last few weeks here in Madagascar have been tiring, but amazingly rewarding. A Satellite Camp...

Read more


ADDITIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

The Frontier-Madagascar camp is great fun and in your spare time you'll have opportunities to swim in waterfalls, 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 like 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 space and time constraints).

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

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

COURSES*

  • Discover Scuba Diving $110
  • Open Water Dive Course $595
  • Advanced Open Water $561
  • Emergency First Responder $221
  • Rescue Diver $595
  • Dive Master $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 (BOA), 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 $1,095

2 weeks $1,395

3 weeks $1,695

4 weeks $2,045

5 weeks $2,395

6 weeks $2,645

7 weeks $2,895

8 weeks $3,095

10 weeks $3,545

20 weeks $5,545

Extra week $345

Christmas Week $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 $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 pick-up weekly on a Monday. Alternative start date possible, additional $60 applies for pickup, please speak to an adviser
  • Transfer to town centre and beach camp from Nosy Be Airport weekly on a Monday. Alternative start dates possible
  • Local orientation and training
  • Project training
  • Project equipment & materials
  • 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)
  • In-country emergency support
  • 24-hour international HQ back-up

AIRPORT INFORMATION

Nearest airport(s): Nossi-Be (NOS)

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.

Apply Now Call me back