Looking to ‘save the lemurs’? You’ve come to the right place. PLUS get career training from Conservation Careers!
Travel to one of the most ecologically distinct places on earth, Madagascar. Nearly all species found on this island off the East coast of Africa can be found only here. The most famous of these is the lemur. Sadly, nearly a third of lemur species are critically endangered and nearly all are threatened with extinction. This makes lemurs the earth’s most at risk group of mammals.
You’ll be working to conserve one endangered lemur species, the Black lemur, and two critically endangered lemur species, the Nosy Be sportive lemur, also known as the Hawks’ sportive lemur, and the Nosy Be mouse lemur, also known as the Claire’s mouse lemur, one of the smallest primates in the world.
Your work will be based in Lokobe National Park, the only remaining old-growth rainforest on the island of Nosy Be. You’ll carry out surveys of the forest both during the day and at night recording what lemur behaviour you can observe first-hand and monitoring camera traps for evidence of more shy individuals. On your surveys you’ll also record sightings of the panther chameleon, a striking, frequently poached creature, as well as one of the smallest frogs and one of the smallest chameleons in the world, both of which are endangered. Sightings of the many butterfly species found here are also common.
Habitat loss is one of the biggest threats to endangered species, including lemurs, and you’ll also be working to restore the rainforest by assisting with the regrowth of indigenous plants.
When you aren’t engaged in conservation work, be sure to also visit the protected beach and marine area bordering the forest. Here, you can swim, snorkel or dive in the warm waters surrounded by vibrant corals, tropical fish, sea turtles and dolphins.
- Help protect endangered and critically endangered lemurs.
- Work to conserve other species found only here.
- Live in an ancient rainforest on the coast of the tropical ocean.
- Visit the many other National Parks in Madagascar to see other lemur species and other wildlife.
- In your free time, see humpbacks whales, whale sharks and hammerheads.
Our Award-winning Partner
Conservation Careers has teamed up a family-run organisation with an amazing culture and an awesome team of people across the world who are passionate experts in their chosen field and will make your experience a truly unforgettable one (in a good way).
Their award-winning projects receive over 2000 participants every year, and we’re proud to say that the vast majority of them describe their experience with them as ‘life changing’. Their approval rate from over 20 000 participants since 1997 is over 95%.
A key component of the success of their community development and conservation projects is the participants who join their programs. Opportunities include high impact volunteering from one week and up, internships for those looking for career development opportunities, Challenges that allow a one week adventure all for a good cause and a range of programs for school groups and younger volunteers.
If you register your interest below, we’ll put you in touch with our partner to take the booking and to plan your trip!
Life on base
Our base is located on Nosy Be island, which, like the rest of Madagascar, is known for its abundant and unique biodiversity that can be found only here. Nosy Be means “big island” in the Malagasy language and is located off the northeastern coast of Madagascar.
Fieldwork on the conservation project may include trekking through the Lokobe Strict Reserve looking for signs of critically endangered lemurs or the great variety of bird, reptile, amphibian and butterfly species that call this rainforest habitat home. Some forest surveys are conducted in the morning or at night, which means you could catch a glimpse of spectacular sunsets and sunrises over the Indian Ocean. There are bound to be many photo opportunities during the course of your program.
Participants specialising in community development might support English language learning for young students in the morning and Lokobe park rangers and other adults in the evening.
The base is basic but comfortable with lots of space in which to take part in training workshops, carry out research or just relax after a busy day. We’re much like a big family on base and cooking and tidying duties are shared on a rotation basis among staff and participants. Evenings include debriefs on the day’s activities and enjoying a meal together.
All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.
Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.
Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
Lokobe is the only remaining primary forest on the island of Nosy Be. It’s also a rainforest, recognised as a nationally protected area by the government of Madagascar and defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a Strict Nature Reserve.
Critically endangered species
The area is home to one species of endangered lemur, the black lemur, and two species of critically endangered lemur, the Nosy Be sportive lemur, also known as the Hawks’ Lemur, and the Nosy Be mouse lemur, also known as the Claire’s mouse lemur. We track these lemurs and carry out behavioural surveys. We also set up and monitor camera traps.
We also carry out tracking, camera trapping and surveys of other animals in the park, including insects, amphibians and reptiles, both in the day and at night. This helps us determine the bioindicators of the park. The park has not been rigorously surveyed since the 1990s and knowing the health of the park can help local conservationists, governments and international organisations make better decisions.
Preventing poaching and the illegal wildlife trade
While the panther chameleon is considered of least concern, it is a highly poached and trafficked species as part of the illegal pet trade. We monitor panther chameleon numbers in the forests to keep track of what naturally occurring numbers in the forest look like and ensure that the population remains sustainable.
Preventing deforestation and illegal logging
Habitat loss poses one of the greatest threats to all species. This is no exception in Madagascar, which has lost significant swathes of forest. We assist local park rangers and other organisations with maintaining endemic plant nurseries that will later be planted out into the forest. We also support other activities related to sustainable agroforestry and protections against deforestation and illegal logging, where possible.
The main United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) that Nosy Be contributes towards is Goal 15, Life On Land.
Nosy Be | Wildlife Hub | Long-term Objectives:
1. Establishing the baseline biodiversity of Lokobe National Park, which hasn’t been rigorously surveyed since the early 1990s.
2. Reforestation, sustainable agroforestry, and working towards the prevention of the illegal logging and deforestation of Madagascar’s National Parks.
3. Monitoring and protection of endemic species heavily poached for the pet trade, such as the panther chameleon, one of the most poached and heavily trafficked chameleon species in the world.
Joining a program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer.
Long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Many decide to travel before or after their experience (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.
Mount Passot is the highest point on Nosy Be island at 329 metres above sea level. You can either hike up the mountain or take a taxi to the top, if you aren’t feeling very energetic. It’s also a great place to enjoy a 360-degree scenic view of the island and watch the sun go down over the Mozambique Channel.
June to September is humpback whale watching season. During this season you can book a responsible and ethical tour provider and head out to stand a chance to spot some, if you’re lucky. During certain seasons there might also be an opportunity to spot other kinds of whales, such as the incredibly rare Omura whale.
Book a recreational dive to experience the variety of Indian Ocean marine life up close. Among the vibrant corals, you can spot a variety of tropical fish. Some of the species that call this location home include stingrays and manta rays.
Visit one of Nosy Be’s many palm-lined stretches of golden beach, such as Andilana, Ambondrona, Madirokely and Ambatoloaka, to enjoy a relaxing day swimming in the warm waters or simply soaking up the sun.
The Sacred Tree
Go see the Sacred Tree, located close to Mahatsinjo village, on the western side of Nosy Be island. This huge banyan tree was planted by the queen of the Sakalava people in 1836 and is a favoured spot of the local black lemurs who can sometimes be seen in its high branches.
Lokobe National Park
We’re based right on the edge of Lokobe National Park which holds the last remaining preserved primitive forest on the island of Nosy Be. The forest is bordered by a beach and is home to three species of lemur, including one of the smallest primates on Earth.
South Africa is a mere three-and-a-half-hour flight away from Madagascar. Fly to Johannesburg and book a safari tour through the famous Kruger National Park and experience the beauty of the coast by planning a trip to Cape Town or Durban.
Visit the many islands of Seychelles. From the main island of Mahe, you can catch a boat to many of the other islands. Visit Curieuse, Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette, Felicity, and Sister islands.
Visit the mainland to see a greater variety of species and experience other distinct cultures of Madagascar. See ring-tailed lemurs in Isalo National Park, hike the stone forests of Tsingy De Bemaraha National Park and walk the Avenue of Baobabs.
Neighbouring island visits
Madagascar is surrounded by many islands and islets. From our location on Nosy Be island, you can visit the neighbouring island of Nosy Sakatia, where you might be able to spot green or hawksbill turtles depending on the season and your luck. You can also visit Nosy Komba, known for its sacred lemur population, and Nosy Iranja, two islets connected by a long stretch of white-sanded beach.
As a result of the island’s long isolation from neighbouring continents, Madagascar is home to endemic flora and fauna found nowhere else on Earth. The most well-known and popular of these are lemurs. The island of Nosy Be is home to three species of lemur, including one of the smallest primates in the world. Nosy Be is also known for a famous variation of panther chameleon and one of the smallest chameleons and frogs known to exist.
The warm waters of the Indian Ocean surrounding Madagascar are home to a variety of marine species such as clownfish and manta rays. Depending on the time of year, and your luck, you might also be able to spot green and hawksbill turtles, humpback whales, whale sharks and the incredibly rare Omura whale.
Crafts and produce
Many of Madagascar’s cultures have long standing artisanal craft traditions. Some of these include intricate embroidery and brightly coloured baskets. Madagascar is also the primary supplier of an estimated 80% of the world’s natural vanilla. The island of Nosy Be itself is known for its production of ylang-ylang, an essential oil used in many popular perfumes.
Festivals and celebrations
The most notable festivals on the island of Nosy Be are dedicated to music. The Nosy Be Jazz Festival is held in April and the Donia Music Festival is held towards the end of May and the beginning of June.
Most people in Madagascar speak Malagasy, a language with many dialects. The dialect that is most commonly spoken in the area in which we are based is Sakalava. Due to the influence of French colonialism, French is also frequently used throughout Madagascar.
BONUS! Kick-starter online training for Early Career Conservationists (worth £295)
Feeling lost in your conservation job hunt? Want to work in conservation, but don’t know where to start? Get your career on track with the Kick-starter online training for Early Career Conservationists designed to help you understand the job market, to navigate your career options, and to get hired more quickly.
Whether you’re at university and planning your next steps, a graduate in the job hunt or working in an unrelated job but interested to switch into conservation, this course is designed to help you.
This unique online course has been designed to increase your chances of success, and is being specially organised and run by Conservation Careers.
All you need to do is register your interest in the project below, and if you choose to make a booking we’ll save a place for you on our course when you get back from your placement.
Included in the course is a year’s full-access membership of the Conservation Careers Academy, which includes access to over 8,000 jobs, 1,500 training courses, live training events and many more career-boosting options.
Duration, dates and costs
Start dates are as follows:
- 2022: 05 Feb; 19 Feb; 05 Mar; 19 Mar; 02 Apr; 16 Apr; 30 Apr; 14 May; 28 May; 11 Jun; 25 Jun; 09 Jul; 23 Jul; 06 Aug; 20 Aug; 03 Sep; 17 Sep; 01 Oct; 15 Oct; 29 Oct; 12 Nov; 26 Nov; 10 Dec; 24 Dec
- 2023: 07 Jan; 21 Jan; 04 Feb; 18 Feb; 04 Mar; 18 Mar; 01 Apr; 15 Apr; 29 Apr; 13 May; 27 May; 10 Jun; 24 Jun; 08 Jul; 22 Jul; 05 Aug; 19 Aug; 02 Sep; 16 Sep; 30 Sep; 14 Oct; 28 Oct; 11 Nov; 25 Nov; 09 Dec; 23 Dec
The costs are:
- 2 weeks: £2,445
- 4 weeks: £3,145
- 6 weeks: £3,795
- 8 weeks: £4,445
- 10 weeks: £5,095
- 12 weeks: £5,745
Increasing Employability: Pre Departure Program Training
Our programs are not only life-changing experiences but are also designed to help participants increase their employability. We have developed a curriculum to be completed prior to arrival in the country in order to ensure that more time is dedicated to program work once you commence your volunteer program.
Eight weeks prior to your start date, you will complete the following online courses in preparation for your in-country program:
PRE-DEPARTURE ORIENTATION (1 hour)
PROGRAM SPECIFIC TRAINING (1 – 5 hours)
OPTIONAL: WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COURSE (10 – 15 hours)
In order to obtain a certificate for the Wildlife Conservation course which is endorsed by the University of Richmond and UNC Charlotte, you will need to complete quizzes & assignments and will be given 4 weeks post program to submit your work.
If you are looking to travel in less than 8 weeks from now, you will still complete the course however this will be done in country and all content will need to be downloaded before arrival.
Health & Hygiene
The work we contribute to across the globe remains important and new measures allow our participants to continue to join our programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. Changes to our existing protocols have been made by our health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities. Please inquire for more information on the protocols.