Mangrove Researcher

founded in 2000
Reef Doctor
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Coordinator | Sergei
Coordinator | Sergei
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.


Discover the unique beauty of this wonderful island-continent and its people, while directly contributing to both important community action and scientific work
Gain skills and experience across the board in; research, marketing and administration - as well as grass-roots and hands-dirty conservation
Experience a front line battle against environmental degradation; working in one of the poorest countries in the world on vital social development work
Expand your network of like-minded and passionate conservationists working alongside the communities most directly affected by such environmental degradation.
Go back to basics for a while; escaping the trappings of the digital world and literally immersing yourself in the natural one.
Work on mangrove research, conservation and management at the Reef Doctor Honko site in Ambondrolava
This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

Introduction to the Mangrove Monitoring Volunteer Programme

Our mangrove volunteering programme is an opportunity to join the Reef Doctor Honko team, assisting in the development of our mangrove conservation programme and in the implementation of alternative livelihoods for local villages dependent on the wetland complex. The objective of this project is to provide communities with the tools, resources, and support to implement sustainable management of their resources and to secure livelihoods. 

This volunteer programme is aimed at people interested in gaining experience and knowledge of coastal habitats, conservation, and social development.

As a mangrove volunteer you will contribute to mangrove research, conservation, and management at our Honko project site in Ambondrolava. 

Your work will help us improve our understanding of the dynamics and health of mangroves and associated coastal wetland habitats through data collection, such as flora and fauna monitoring and mapping.

Depending on the projects running during your stay, there may also be opportunities to participate in activities such as mangrove replanting and awareness-raising events. 

There will also be chance to contribute to the socio-economic work of Reef Doctor Honko, such as; 

  • developing educational or ecotourism materials, 
  • helping the local reed-weaving women’s association,
  • teaching English in the village, 
  • and participating in alternative livelihood programmes such as aquaculture and ecotourism.

We offer 1- to 3-month volunteering positions throughout the year. Space is limited to 24 people per month, so make sure to contact us in advance regarding availability. 

We can also provide PADI dive training (from PADI Open Water up to Rescue Diver level, and a range of speciality PADI dive courses) at an additional cost at our marine research base in Ifaty.

Who Joins?

We recruit volunteers from all walks of life as long as they are over the age of 18. However, we do insist our volunteers are in reasonable physical fitness; most of the work comprises repetitive and strenuous activity walking through mangrove mud or across sandy dunes.

In addition, if you wish to do some dive training or recreational diving with us, you will need to have passed a diving medical before your arrival.

No prior skills are required, just a general enthusiasm to commit to becoming an integral member of our team. This programme is suitable for a wide range of people including:

  • Those looking to contribute to conservation and social development on their travels.
  • Those undertaking a gap year.
  • Those who wish to pursue a career in ecology, conservation, and/or social development.
  • Environmental science students who wish to gain practical field-based experience to complement their studies.
  • Environmental science students who wish to develop and conduct a research project with us.

Core Training

  • Introduction to our various research, conservation, and social development projects.

  • Introduction to mangrove ecology and conservation.

  • Mangrove species identification.

  • Mangrove fish species identification.

  • Theoretical and practical training on mangrove

    monitoring and mapping methods.

  • Theoretical and practical training on GIS.

  • General overview of coral reef biology, ecology, and

    conservation (at our marine research base in Ifaty).

Following Your Core Training


Volunteers can expect to be involved in the following activities:

  • Mangrove monitoring and data collection.

  • Mangrove planting and nursery trials.

  • Fish catch survey and identification of species

    present in the mangrove channel.

  • Maintenance work in the plant nursery and

    planting terrestrial trees around site.

  • Assist with taking care of the garden, beehives,

    and the project site in general.

  • Develop material for outreach and educational

    programmes; posters/presentations/videos etc.

  • Continuation of Vezo language training.

  • Assist the women’s association in developing new

    skills, marketing, and accounting.

  • Visit Reef Doctor’s aquaculture projects in the Bay

    of Ranobe, assist in a monthly sea cucumber sale.

  • Help the team involve Reef Doctor Juniors in

    projects where possible and contribute to other

    education initiatives for local children.

  • Assist in report writing at local, regional, and

    national level, as and when requested.

  • Help create general project updates and work

    with the Communications Officer for dissemination on the website, newsletters, social networks etc.

Typical day

Working as a volunteer means you will be following the working times of the core staff. 

The normal staff working week runs from Monday to Friday, from 8h to 12h and 14h to 18h. 

You’ll be working closely with the Project Manager and other members of the team depending on your activities.

Free-time activities

You are free to do as you wish at the weekend; simply relax in the peaceful surroundings on site, go into town for shopping, take a pirogue trip, walk to the popular beach resort of Mangily, visit local parks such as the Spiny Forest, or take a long weekend to go further afield in order to visit one of the regional national parks.



In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 08:00 - 18:00

What's Included

Services by Reef Doctor

Services Included in the Fees

  • All project activity and training costs.
  • Accomodation
  • Transport from Toliara to the site in Ambondrolava.
  • Arrangement of hotel in the capital city Antananarivo, if required.
  • All meals, Monday-Sunday.
  • Filtered water, coffee, and tea.
  • Lodging: bed sheets, pillows, and mosquito net provided.
  • Standard first-aid medical care.
  • Electricity for charging cell phones, laptops, etc (solar powered).
  • Pre-departure support and pre-departure guides - advice on; flights, equipment, Madagascar, medicals, vaccines, insurance etc.

Services Not Included in the Fees

  • Round-trip airfare.
  • Visa (bought upon arrival at airport)
  • Vaccinations and anti-malarial drugs.
  • For those who are interested, PADI dive training fees (this must be pre-arranged with Reef Doctor prior to departure).
  • Reef Doctor standard recreational dive medicals (if applicable; forms provided by us to be filled in by a medical professional which may incur a fee).
  • Diving (if applicable), travel, and medical insurance.
  • Any personal excursions (often groups of staff and volunteers plan excursions to nearby national parks or other areas of interest).


Our site is made up of one main house, the volunteers’ house, two wooden huts for staff, kitchen/dining area, the VOI’s (local association) main office, and two plant nurseries. 

The main house is used as a work area for the team and volunteers; it is also used as dining room at night and kitchen. 

The basic volunteer house is built of cement and vondro (local reeds), it is a shared house with two bunk beds. 

Showers are taken in a small bathroom using water from the on-site well and there are two dry toilets.

Dorm Room
Food & Beverages

During the week, lunch and dinner are prepared by our cook from the village. 

Meals are simple and locally-sourced with mainly rice, beans, vegetables/fruits, meat once a week, and fish if available in the village. 

At the weekends we have to cook for ourselves. Volunteers are expected to participate. 

Our drinking water comes from the village twice a day and is filtered before drinking.

Internet Access
Limited access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Tulear (TLE) in Tulear. We assist you to find cheap flights to Madagascar.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Madagascar provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Madagascar you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Madagascar.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

South West Madagascar Climate

Month:    Dec/Jan/Feb/March      April/ May     June/July/Aug     Sept/Oct/Nov  

Season:         Summer                       Autumn                 Winter                  Spring         

Malaria:         High (risk)              Medium (risk)        Low (risk)           Low (risk)

Avg Day     

Temp°C:   32   36   40    38     |       35       30     |     26    23    23   |    25    25    30

Avg Night                       

Temp°C:   28   33   35    30     |       28       20      |    17    15    15   |    20    25    28

Expedition Start Dates 2019

Start Date

14th January

4th March

8th April

6th May

10th June

15th July

5th August

2nd September

7th October

4th November

2nd December

N.BThese dates are when the programme commences, so you need to arrive at our site ideally the day before. This means arriving at the capital Antananarivo two days before the start date.



Reef Doctor’s base camp is in the South West, close to Toliara (Tulear) but all International flights arrive at Antananarivo, in the centre.

If you require an overnight stay (and most volunteers do), we can arrange a hotel room in ‘Tana’ that we have a good relationship with. This includes pick up from the airport into Antananarivo, for the €20 per night mentioned in the above table.

You must decide whether you will fly to and from our nearest airport in Toliara or ‘tour’ down (and back up) via public transport or mini van.

In general we do recommend that you fly down to us upon arrival and then take the public bus or rent a mini-van back to the capital. This gives you a chance to make sure you get to basecamp in time. Then take the more adventurous, touristic or economical route back up, once you’re more familiar with the country.

Upon Arrival

 you will be welcomed by the Project Manager, who will support and guide you during your stay.

The team will provide you with basic Malagasy Vezo language and culture training.

Our Reef Doctor Honko team is small (5 to 6 people, mainly Malagasy nationals) but we work very closely together and will make you feel at home quickly! We also closely work and socialise with the larger, main Reef Doctor team in neighbouring Ifaty.

This program is paused due to COVID-19 and reopens October 2020. Apply Now!

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
4 - 12 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
4 weeks (min. stay)
8 weeks
12 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$211 /week

The organization charges its fees in GBP. The price table in USD is subject to currency fluctuation. Reef Doctor will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Reef Doctor during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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Mangrove Researcher

Work on mangrove research, conservation and management at the Reef Doctor Honko site in Ambondrolava


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