ConservationMadagascar

Our Madagascar Conservation team work to protect and conserve the endangered coastal forest through biodiversity research and supporting sustainable community initiatives.

Volunteers support the team collecting valuable research in the tropical coastal forest which is home to unique species including lemurs, flying fox bats and chameleons. The research helps to drive the region’s conservation strategy for protecting the area. You can help to make a difference by assisting on the conservation treks, reforestation projects and community education sessions.

Live in a beautiful coastal village which is surrounded by a tropical forest and near to stunning beaches.

Join the conservation team and be part of the vital research in unique Madagascar.

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Key Info

key info
  • Location: South East Madagascar
  • Start dates: Throughout the year
  • Duration: 1 - 10 weeks
  • Age requirement: 18+ (groups also welcome)
  • Availability: Spaces available
  • Cost: From £845 / €930 / $1050 - see fees table below
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Project Information

Volunteer role: What will I be doing?

The Conservation project aims to protect the fragile ecosystem by conducting valuable research into the region’s biodiversity which helps to drive a conservation strategy for future protection. 99% of amphibians, 96% of reptiles and 93% of mammals found in Madagascar are unique and found nowhere else on earth, so it’s a very exciting project to be part of with new species found every year!

Volunteers support the local team of researchers staff with their ongoing conservation work and your role will depend on the current research aims. Activities may include population, distribution and behaviour studies on:

  • Lemurs - Southern Woolly Lemur, Brown Collared Lemur, Fat Tailed Dwarf Lemur and the Mouse Lemur which is endemic to the surrounding forest
  • Flying fox bats
  • Reptiles - including brookesia chameleons, leaf tailed geckos and many of other snakes, geckos, chameleons and lizards
  • Birds - there are over 70 species in the local bird population, including the Madagascar pygmy kingfisher 
  • Amphibians - including rare frogs found only in the local area
  • Insects

Volunteers will help the conservation team with:

  • Habitat mapping and data collection
  • Plant studies, including monitoring and planting of endangered palms and fruit trees which are vital for lemurs
  • Sustainable lobster fishery data collection (during lobster season)
  • Long term reforestation projects - seed collection and planting
  • Environmental education sessions for the community
  • English language club
  • Alternative livelihood community projects

“For us here in this region, every extra volunteer means extra investment, extra employment and training, and a multitude of benefits.”
The Mayor of the region

Typical day 

Volunteers normally work 5-6 days a week, usually from 8am to 8pm. Volunteers generally have a two hour lunch break to eat and relax at the research base. You may walk or take a local boat to each day’s project location. The journey from your camp site to the project site varies from around 5 minutes to 1 hour. The role is dynamic and changes depending on the current research requirements so volunteers can choose which activities to assist with each day.

An typical day may include: 

  • Sunrsie (6:30 / 7am): Breakfast
  • 7:30 – 11:30am: Morning work e.g. herpetological survey (reptiles and amphibians) 
  • 12pm – 2pm: Lunch and time to relax (great for getting your washing done or updating your journal!)
  • 2pm – 5pm: Afternoon work such as assisting with tree planting at the reforestation plant nursery 
  • 6pm: Dinner
  • 7pm – 9pm: Evening work such as lemur population survey 

During your first few days you will receive an induction for your conservation work, health and safety briefing and advice on local customs and the cultural sensitivity when working alongside the village communities.

In your free time you can relax or explore the local area and activities that South East Madagascar has to offer.

Other volunteers

There are normally 2-8 volunteers with a maximum of 15, who work alongside the local team, researchers and conservation staff.

Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award

This placement has been approved by the DofE as meeting the requirements for the Residential section of the Gold Award.

Local support

Hoby and Tsaraiky are the Conservation project team leaders and have years of expereince working in the forest on conservation projects and as tour guides. There are also international project coordinators. The support staff are located at the project site which also houses volunteer accommodation. 

Accomodation

Throughout the placement you will be predominantly based at the rural campsite, but will also stay a few days at a homestay.

  • The rural camp is located near deserted beaches and tropical forests teeming with wildlife. There is no WIFI access. You will stay in your own tent which you can either bring from home or rent locally.
  • The homestay is a local style house, located next to a stunning lake. It is a 40 minute walk or 10-15 minute drive from the town centre. WIFI access is available.

Meals

All main meals are included in your placement and are prepared for you by the local team. Here are typical examples of the food you will have:

  • Breakfast – banana bread, porridge, bananas, dough balls, tea and coffee
  • Lunch and dinner – Rice or pasta with beans, lentils and vegetables. There is occasionally meat, fish and eggs. 

Fruit and simple snacks can be purchased locally. 

Vegetarians and vegans are welcomed and can be catered for.

Drinking water is provided throughout your placement.

Location and free time

Based in a tropical forest and surrounded by coastal fishing community, volunteers often spend their free time at the beach, walking to local markets or (electricity permitting) enjoying a film night on the team’s projector. Other free time activities that volunteers regularly enjoy include playing guitar, card games, dominoes and word games or just relaxing with a book in a hammock at the rural camp site. New games and activities are always appreciated too!

The research team usually spends 3-4 weeks based in the rural camp and then returns to the town for a few days off to relax before travelling back to the rural camp. Whilst in town, volunteers can visit Nahampoana wildlife reserve which is on the outskirts of Fort Dauphin and is a great opportunity to see the diverse ecosystems of Southern Madagascar including many lemur species that are unique to the region.

For those with 2 or 3 days free, Berenty Reserve is also well worth a visit for a chance to experience the unique spiny forest, octopus trees, ring tailed and ‘dancing’ sifaka lemurs – famous for being a film location for a David Attenborough documentary. The Berenty trip is best booked in advance whilst most other activities can be booked locally once you are at the project. 

Travelling in Madagascar before or after your placement

Madagascar is an incredibly diverse island off the South West coast of Africa and a perfect destination for intrepid travellers. It is home to thousands of animal and plant species which are found nowhere else on else including the famous lemurs, aye-ayes and fossas.

Popular places to visit in Madagascar include:

  • Nosy Be
  • Avenue of the Baobabs
  • One of the many unique National parks – including Tsingy de Bemaraha and Isalo

To find out more see: Lonely Planet Madagascar

Dates

2019: 14 May (1-4 weeks), 28 May (1-2 weeks), 2 Jul (1-10 weeks), 16 Jul (1-8 weeks), 30 Jul (1-6 weeks), 13 Aug (1-4 weeks), 27 Aug (1-2 weeks), 1 Oct (1-10 weeks), 15 Oct (1-8 weeks), 29 Oct (1-6 weeks), 12 Nov (1-4 weeks), 26 Nov (1-2 weeks)

2020: 7 Jan (1-10 weeks), 21 Jan (1-8 weeks), 4 Feb (1-6 weeks), 18 Feb (1-4 weeks), 4 Mar (1-2 weeks), 31 Mar (1-10 weeks), 14 Apr (1-8 weeks), 28 Apr (1-6 weeks), 12 May (1-4 weeks), 26 May (1-2 weeks), 30 Jun (1-10 weeks), 14 Jul (1-8 weeks), 28 Jul (1-6 weeks), 11 Aug (1-4 weeks), 25 Aug (1-2 weeks), 29 Sep (1-10 weeks), 13 Oct (1-8 weeks), 27 Oct (1-6 weeks), 10 Nov (1-4 weeks), 24 Nov (1-2 weeks)

What's Included

Included

  • Dedicated Pod Volunteer Specialist to support you
  • Airport pick up (Fort Dauphin) and return transfer
  • Accommodation - campsite
  • Food - all main meals
  • Induction
  • Malagasy language lessons
  • Support from the local team
  • Support from the Pod Volunteer UK office by phone and email
  • 24/7 emergency back up
  • Volunteering certificate and reference (on request)

Not included

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa
  • Vaccinations and medication
  • Tent
  • Living costs - snacks, drinks, laundry
  • Any tourist trips / activities you choose to do in your free time
Price table
1 week £845 GB Pounds
2 weeks £895 GB Pounds
4 weeks £1445 GB Pounds
6 weeks £1845 GB Pounds
8 weeks £2195 GB Pounds
10 weeks £2495 GB Pounds

Discounts

  • £75 discount for every additional project you book as part of the same trip
  • £75 discount if you have previously volunteered with Pod Volunteer 

Where the money goes - financial transparency

Your fee covers the overseas costs of volunteering and the costs of running our organisation in the UK, on a non-profit basis.  For more details and a breakdown of our costs please click here.

Book with confidence - financial protection

All monies paid to us are financially protected through The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT). 

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Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com

Read volunteer reviews from the Conservation project

Ben

“An amazing experience. We were constantly surrounded by wildlife of all sorts. The guides were remarkable, both due to their extensive knowledge of the forest and their friendly nature. I have learnt a lot from them and also the research assistants and other volunteers. The locals were very welcoming and their ability to produce delicious meals on an open fire with little more than rice and beans still impresses me.

Most rewarding was knowing that if successful the research we were helping with would make an immense difference to the locals and the wildlife. Also the club A followed by an entire day of football.”

Patrica

“This holiday was the best I had in my life. I will definitely repeat this kind of holiday. I learned a lot about the environment, animals and the culture but also a lot about myself. Being able to combine a little bit of travelling through Madagascar before the volunteering started was the perfect mix. I only regret not being able to stay longer. Everything was perfect. Research, people, support, camping, free time. All in all perfect balance and definitely did not feel like work.

The project in my opinion is a huge benefit to the local community as both the locals as well as the research staff work hand in hand as best as possible. The education about the nature is not one party teaching the other but rather both teaching each other with local guides who know the area inside out even in the dark and with the research staff teaching children how to protect this area in a sustainable way.”

Megan

“My 4 weeks with the Conservation project were just amazing! The research into the wildlife was fascinating and will hopefully help protect the amazing endemic species found there in the future. Watching lemur behaviour and finding chameleons and geckos by night will definitely stay with me for the rest of my life!

The programme also allowed me to interact with the local community by teaching the children about the forest and English lessons. So much fun and the community is so wonderful, always smiling and laughing! That is definitely one of the reasons I find the project fantastic, as they combine conservation and community work. I would definitely recommend to anybody wanting an experience of a lifetime!!!”

Monique

“I spent ten weeks volunteering in the SE of Madagascar. The charity creates the perfect environment for their volunteers to experience the reality of life in the poorest area of the country while maintaining safety and fun. The money really goes where it should!

The staff were extremely energetic and passionate, they are patient and generous and are reason enough to want to go back for a visit (trust me there are 1000 other reasons). The volunteer scheme was diverse, ensuring it never became repetitive or boring and allowing everyone’s strengths to shine at some point. The communities were gorgeous and the people so welcoming. I felt safer there than I often do in my hometown.”

Read more reviews

<10,000

endangered Phelsuma geckos remain in the surrounding forest

"It was an amazing experience that will stay with me forever! Pod Volunteer provided the ideal amount of support and guidance"Satvinder

Bee

Pod UK Specialist

Bee has visited the project, apply and you'll hear from her soon!

We look forward to receiving your application! There is no commitment by applying and we will send more information.

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VOLUNTEER REVIEWS

  • Madagascar Conservation volunteer – August

    “Doing the project has been one of the best decisions I've ever made. The people are incredible, the environment is breath-taking, and the work is very rewarding.”

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Madagascar Conservation volunteer – Fran

    “I definitely recommend traveling to Madagascar because you will have an incredible special experience at the same time as benefiting one of the poorest communities and most endangered eco systems.”

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Madagascar Conservation volunteer – Megan

    “Watching lemur behaviour and finding chameleons and geckos by night will definitely stay with me for the rest of my life! I would definitely recommend to anybody wanting an experience of a lifetime!!!”

    Read more volunteer reviews

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AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal