WHY we need you in Madagascar
HOW can you help?
WHAT can you do?
Why Involvement Volunteers International?
PROJECT NAME: LEMUR CONSERVATION
LOCATION: NOSY BE ISLAND
START DATES: WEEKLY (SAT/SUN ARRIVALS)
ACCOMMODATION: VOLUNTEER HOUSE (SHARED ROOMS)
MIN DURATION: ONE WEEK
MIN AGE: 16+
SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS: Criminal background check required
The Lemur Experience and Conservation Project aims to raise public awareness about the importance of safeguarding lemurs and their natural habitat, particularly the Nosy-Be lemur population. This project offers an opportunity for individuals interested in ecological research and conservation work to actively participate. Engaging in the research and long-term management of lemur populations is a requirement within a controlled sanctuary.
The decline of lemur populations in Madagascar is primarily attributed to widespread deforestation, habitat destruction, and poaching. The conservation project in Nosy Be addresses these issues through habitat restoration, population monitoring, and public awareness campaigns in the vicinity of the program locations.
At this location, nature enthusiasts have a unique chance to observe and interact closely with various lemur species. Alongside routine tasks such as feeding the lemurs and maintaining their environment, specific data collection is conducted under the supervision of an expert in the field. Each lemur is assigned a dedicated file to compile essential information, including details on age, sex, breeding, behaviour, distinctive traits, and physical characteristics. Additionally, records are kept for other species like turtles and chameleons in a comprehensive database.
The gathered information enables the park veterinarian to provide appropriate care for each resident. As a participant, you will have the opportunity to communicate in English and raise awareness among sanctuary visitors about lemurs.
Moreover, you will contribute to the development of awareness campaigns targeting the local community, educating them about the significance of safeguarding the lemur population and its habitat.
As a participant, you play a crucial role in the conservation efforts of Nosy Be and the well-being of lemurs residing in a controlled environment. Your contributions aid in preserving this unique ecosystem and its inhabitants. Prior to commencing your volunteer work, it is essential to understand your role, responsibilities, and expectations.
Your general duties encompass the following:
- Assisting in the preparation and feeding of lemurs.
- Participating in the cleaning of lemur areas.
- Providing care for other species within the sanctuary.
- Creating, expanding, and maintaining a database of lemurs and other species inhabiting the sanctuary. This includes recording information such as age, sex, breeding, daily behaviour, identifying features, and physical characteristics.
- Establishing, expanding, and updating a database of the flora found at the project locations.
- Engaging with sanctuary visitors, offering insights and information in English.
- Facilitating a seamless transition for the next group of participants, ensuring the continued progress of the program in Nosy Be under the guidance of the local team
Nosy Be (meaning ‘big island’) is an absolutely stunning island off the north-west coast and is Madagascar’s largest and busiest tourist destination. The population is estimated around 73,010 and the island has an area space of 320.02 square kilometres.
On Nosy Be island you will find volcanic lakes, lemurs, rum distilleries, Ylang Ylang plantations and beautiful coral reefs. There is just so much to explore on this amazing island! In May, you can experience the 4 day Donia Music Festival. Situated on the Indian Ocean, on Nosy-Be island you can relax on the best white sand beaches, take a boat trip through the jungle, go trekking to see lemurs or snorkel alongside turtles and manta rays in the clear waters.
- To contribute and help to the rehabilitation of native lemur species, which have been taken from their natural habitats
- Prepare feed, clean cages, plant trees and general care of the lemurs
- Help with the maintenence of the enclosures
Food & Accommodation
You will stay at our volunteer house, where there is a dining room and lounge area to socialise with fellow volunteers. There is also a beautiful garden to relax in during time off. A balcony and large roof terrace are also available for you to chill out in. Rooms are shared between 2-6 people, there are fans, bed linen, lockable rooms, and water (no hot water for showers). There is no wifi but you are free to purchade a SIM card to get data.
There is a kitchen and refrigerator which you are welcome to use to store any food and drinks you require. An ATM and a supermarket around 15-20 minutes away by bus or Tuk-Tuk, from the volunteer house. The closest ATM to the house is about 10 minutes away by Tuk-Tuk from the accommodation, the closest local supermarket is around 10 minutes away by Tuk-Tuk, and the closest medical centre is around 15 minutes away by Tuk-Tuk.
*A private room with aircon may be available for an extra fee and subject to availability.
We provide three meals per day during weekdays and two per day on weekends. Your meals will be a mix of Western and Malagasy food, usually consisting of vegetarian dishes including rice and vegetables. You can expect to have a chicken dish around twice a week. There are kitchen facilities for you to cook your own meals or you can eat out at any of the local restaurants nearby.
If you have a love for animals and don’t mind a bit of hard work outside, this this could be a great project for you. You will have the chance to explore Madagascars beautiful jungles, whilst learning about the native lemur species.
- 3 meals p/day weekdays / 2 meals p/day weekends
- Arrival airport transfer (Sat/Sun arrivals)
- Filtered drinking water, coffee & tea
- 1 day orientation
- Daily transportation to project
- In country 24/7 support & emergency assistance
- Fundraising support
- University course credits (where applicable)
- Certificate of Completion
- Travel Insurance
- Tours, Souvenirs & spending money
On the Monday of your first week at this location, you will join our orientation day, to familiarize yourself with the surroundings as well as the local culture. Your program will continue as usual from Tuesday onward throughout the rest of the week.
- Welcome, introduction to Nosy-Be, Madagascar, and the team, House rules, Dos and Don’ts, Code of conduct, and handling of documents.
- Introduction about the neighborhood and prices for tuk-tuks, etc.
- Visit Hell-Ville to get SIM Card and visit the market area and ATM
- Malagasy Language lesson
- Visit to Mont Passot (time permitting only)
Programs begin every Monday, and volunteers are required to arrive the day prior, for orientation before the project. Your accommodation on the Sunday is included in the program fees.
A free airport pickup is included when arriving to Fascene Airport (NOS). You must arrive between the hours 08:00 to 20:00 on Sunday.
If arriving outside the pickup times on Sunday, you can book a private transfer for US$50.
If arriving during the week, or on Saturday, we charge US$50 for any extra night’s accommodation before your program, and another US$50 fee for a private transfer.
Alternatively, if arriving early you could wait at the arrival’s terminal for the pickup time, book accommodation at the airport and meet us during the pickup times or make your own way to the project (we will advise on how to do this).
From the airport to the accommodation it takes 30 minutes by road.
Your daily routine starts at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 4:00 p.m. Kindly refer to the schedule given below.
07.30 am: Breakfast at the accommodation
08.00 am: Depart from the accommodation
08.30 am: Report to the Lemur Experience & Conservation program / Daily Briefing
09.00 am–12.00 pm: Activities pertaining to the program
12.00 pm–1.00 pm: Packed lunch at site
01.00 pm–04.00 pm: Activities pertaining to the program
04.00 pm – Depart for the accommodation
7.30 pm – Dinner will be served at the accommodation.
The sun shines year-round here, with Nosy Be being a beach and sea lovers paradise, hosting incredible snorkelling and diving. Nosy Be is packed with activities to get up to during your free, the most popular is checking out the paradise beaches. Here are just a few of the stunning beaches you can visit:
- Palm Beach
- Andilana Beach
- Ambatoloaka Beach
- Andilana Beach
Wildlife lovers and adventure enthusiasts will certainly be at home in Nosy Be too. See if you can spot the diurnal and nocturnal native lemur species, count the unique bird species, see reptiles or indigenous plants, whilst trekking through the lush jungle. There are also scuba diving & snorkelling tours and inland boat trips.
Participants under the age of 18 should have parental consent, and participants over 65 should have medical clearance to take part in this program.
Strong dedication to protecting wildlife and awareness of the need to increase youth awareness of the significance of improving the role of fauna and flora species in conservation in controlled environments
Appropriate clothing for outdoor activities
Reusable Water Bottle
Personal Medication / First aid kit
Laptop and Camera
Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island, known for its rich biodiversity and culture. This exotic country is home to some unique wildlife, including 101 different lemur species, 285 bird species (105 of which are unique to the country). You can also find 860 orchid species, that are native to the island, as well as 6 of the world’s 8 incredible baobab trees, found nowhere else in the world. Over 90% of Madagascar’s wildlife is native and cannot be seen in the wild anywhere else on earth. Human presence however, is constantly threatening these natural wonders.
Madagascar is a very culturally distinctive island, with 18 ethnic groups forming the Malagasy population, whose customs are based on the respect of their ancestors and the harmony of the living. The country also has many multi cultures, taking influence from Arabic, Chinese, Indian, French and English settlers.
Although being a large island, it is also a very poor country, with 75.3% of Malagasy living below the poverty line. The gap between the rich and poor is increasing more and more. Despite this poverty, Malagasy people are very much open-hearted to anyone and welcome visitors to explore their beautiful island and cultural heritage.
You will be greeted with smiles and friendly locals and can be sure that a trip to Madagascar will be the ultimate adventure! Not only will you discover an entirely new culture (think of it as a mix between African & Asian influences), you will also explore the incredible flora and fauna this island has to offer.
Madagascar has a hot, subtropical climate with cooler temperatures in the mountains. There are two main climate seasons: the rainy season from November to March and the dry season from April to October. The length of each season does vary from one region to another. As Madagascar is a large country, terrain, weather patterns and climate can change quite dramatically between regions.
Because of the altitude, the temperature in the Central Highlands sits around 25°C. From June to August this goes down to a chilly 5°C. The wet season starts in November until March or April but is also the warmest season in the Highlands, with an average of 28° / 30°C.
There are several climatic zones in Northern Madagascar.
On the North-Western coast around Mahajanga, there are two distinct seasons, a dry and warm season from May to November and a hot and wet season from December to April, with temperatures reaching over 35°C. Around Ambanja and Nosy Be, there is a micro-climate with wet and dry seasons, although rainfall is more evenly dispersed throughout the year. Temperatures are warm all year round, with an average of 28°C.
The rains start from January to March. The rest is almost completely dry, especially on the South-western coast from Toliara. Around Fort-Dauphin, there can be a little more rain, but still very dry. It gets really hot from February to May and between October and December. The most pleasant period is during the winter, from June to September, with temperatures around 25°C.
Eastern Madagascar is known for consistent rainfall, although this decreases when moving southwards. The driest season is from August to December, but still with downpours almost every day. February to March is cyclone season with heavy rain, so best to avoid. March, April and December are the warmest months with an average temperature of 30°C. Temperatures are cooler throughout the rest of the year, sitting between 20°C to 28°C, and nights being a little cooler.
From May to November is dry season with little rain and pleasant temperatures from 20°C to 25°C. Wet season is from December to April, and it rains heavily, depending on the area. The warmest months are March and April and November and December, with an average temperature of 30°C or more.
In general, the best months to visit Madagascar are between April to mid-December.
January to March is cyclone season, so we would advise against travelling to Madagascar during this time.
Heavy rains can still be expected in April, May and June, but between these showers there’s sunshine. However, the wet season does make the landscape lush and green, with wildlife such as lemurs and reptiles often visible.
July to August is a great time to spot humpback whales as they arrive in Ile St Marie. The weather is cool and dry, making this a pleasant time to explore. During September, Humpback whales can still be seen in Ile St Marie, whilst lemurs begin to give birth to their babies.
In October, temperatures begin to increase around the country, but you will see colourful purple jacarandas in bloom. From November to December, temperatures continue to increase, as well as an increase in rainfall. At this time lemurs, reptiles and tenrecs can often be spotted.
Some of Madagascar’s people, such as the Indonesian-looking Merina’s, are believed to be descendants of sailors from Indonesia and Malaya, who reached the island by travelling over the Indian Ocean. These Asian migrants introduced their beliefs to the country, as well as their rice-based diet.
There is also an African and Arab influence in the population. Arab merchants and African migrants travelled to Madagascar centuries ago and include the Arabic Antaimoro people in the east of the island and the Sakalava to the west. The Malagasy language includes several Bantu and Swahili words.
Today, there’s 18 diverse ethnic groups living in Madagascar. These include Merina, Betsimisaraka, Betsileo, Tsimihety, Antaimoro and Sakalava. Despite the ethnic variety, Malagasy people share a common culture and language.
The Malagasy language has Asian origin, similar to the language spoken in Borneo. The dialect is very poetical, descriptive and rich in metaphors. For example, where we might say “dusk”, the Malagasy will say “maizim-bava vilany” which means “when the mouth of the cooking pot is dark”.
The Asian-African origin of the island’s inhabitants has led to a unique and distinguished culture, with a multitude of set beliefs and customs.
One of the main beliefs is in the power of dead ancestors, or “razana”. These spirits are believed to still look after their descendants even after they have passed. The wishes of these ancestors are to be respected and obeyed. Because of this, families and communities have certain taboos known as “fady”, like avoiding certain actions to ensure the approval of the “razana”.
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