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Plan My Gap Year

Nature Reserve Preservation

We need volunteers to help us with wildlife conservation and monitoring, physical maintenance and renovation on the reserve and environmental education awareness.

The Programme

The PMGY conservation programme in Madagascar enables volunteers to live among the unique wildlife and biodiversity that exists on the reserve and help preserve such wildlife and their habitats along the way. The nature reserve itself is based remotely and stunning beyond belief. It is home to some of the worlds most spectacular animal and plant species. The reserve is hidden on the coast of the Indian ocean and represents one of the remaining coastal forest regions in southeastern Madagascar.

The conservation focus for the reserve is taken so seriously that no tourism activities are endorsed in the area and a self-sustainable lifestyle culture is promoted across the infrastructure, volunteers and local team. The ultimate goal is for the reserve to be admitted to the ‘System of Protected Areas of Madagascar’ which is a slow and long winded process.

Part of achieving this has seen the implementation of the conservation management plan which volunteers play a direct role in achieving including planting food gardens, providing local employment, protection managed, renewable energy provided, facilities built and trails made and maintained.

The reserve is home to a variety of diversity with 5 different lemur species, over 50 different reptile and bird species and over 200 different tree species. Activities that volunteers engage in to protect such diversity and the forest in general from things like climate change and deforestation vary day to day.


Activities

  • Lemur monitoring and research
  • Collecting information about sea turtle populations (at the end of the year)
  • Collecting data about the flowering cycles of trees and shrubs on the reserve and seed collecting
  • Developing food gardens
  • Maintaining the paths and planting native species along the way
  • Educating about necessary environmental awareness

Volunteers are advised to note that the work schedule allocated to them very much depends on the needs of the project and the reserve at the time. Nothing is set in stone and can change on a regular basis. The work can also be physically demanding so volunteers are therefore encouraged to be adaptable, responsive, resilient, enthusiastic and dedicated.

Lemur Monitoring and Research

One of the regular activities and more exciting opportunities is the lemur monitoring. Lemurs are a species of primate native to Madagascar with their name transcribing from Latin to mean ‘spirits of the night’. It Is essential for future research that the lemurs are well habituated to humans.

Across your time with us on the reserve volunteers have the special opportunity to get up close and personal with such an incredible endangered species. Volunteers will complete a variety of morning walks and night time walks alongside the local team collecting basic data along the way to follow up on these extraordinary creatures. By tracking and following the lemurs not only does it keep eyes on the number of lemurs passing through the forest and at what times of year, but this also helps assist researchers collating data when they visit the reserve in terms of tracking lemur population sizes, health and more variables.

Traditionally lemurs sight can be very poor so many times when you can see them, they will struggle to see you; particularly when on the nocturnal walks! They mainly live in the trees which is where you will spot them usually on the walks and sadly even with conservation efforts there continues to be serious barriers to protecting this amazing species labelling them at risk to extinction in the future.

Collecting Information about Sea Turtle Popuations

Other wildlife volunteers will get close to on the programme include spending time socialising with the radiated tortoises which live on site (again native and most abundant in southern Madagascar) as well as usually towards the end of the year to the beginning of the next collecting information about sea turtle populations nesting on the beaches of the reserve. Sea turtles are endangered worldwide and sadly in Madagascar are often killed and eaten by local people and have their nests regularly dug up.

Forest Protection and Reforestation

Protecting the coastal forest and all 10 miles that exists of it on the reserve from deforestation and climate change is also another way volunteers contribute to conservation on the reserve. There are many ways in which volunteers do this and one of these forest enhancement initiatives includes tree planting. This is done throughout the year with greater focus on tree planting efforts in times after severe weather and storms. When volunteers work on the mangrove restoration project they get the unique opportunity to travel with the local team on the canoes whilst working on the river.

Volunteers will also engage in a process called phenology monitoring. Here you will collect data about the flowering cycles of trees and shrubs on the reserve to enable for better seed collecting programmes which promotes reforestation, biodiversity and forest enhancement. Seed collecting and nursery work on the reserves mini allotment also helps to preserve this vital ecosystem. By volunteers collecting, cleaning and potting seeds of the most vulnerable, threatened and underpopulated plant species, it allows for essential plants to be re-cultivated and restored from degraded areas on the reserve. Such work involves simple construction, filling pots with compost, seed collecting across the reserve and site selection for reforestation and plantations.

Developing Food Gardens

Development of food gardens that volunteers support and engage with on the reserve allows as much food to be grown on site as possible and also helps increase the sustainability of the reserve and reduce food transport costs. All gardening is fully organic with the aim for the vegetables to become well adapted to the local climate.

Path Maintenance 

Physical ongoing maintenance across the reserve is also necessary to maintain the environment. Depending on the need at the time, volunteers may play a role in the upkeep of signs, gates, buildings and gardens across the property so that the reserve is a safe environment for staff, researchers and volunteers. There is also a 2 mile trail in place that provides a safe way for workers and volunteers to travel throughout the reserve with minimal impact of the surrounding environment. Volunteers help maintain the paths and plant native plant species along the way to promote a healthy forest. Keeping pathways clear also allows for the programme to continue to monitor the wildlife that exists in the reserve on a daily basis.

Educating about environmental awareness

Education is also a key component of the conservation work volunteers engage in. It perhaps provides some downtime to the more physically demanding activities and volunteers are encouraged to be as creative and pro-active as possible in terms of how they want to educate the local communities and nearby villages of the conservation work and importance of it that occurs on the reserve. This may include working for the village schools, designing signage and conservation education tools for illiterate adults or thinking of ways to engage with a wider audience altogether. Volunteers looking to engage in the environmental education aspect should speak through their ideas and plans with the local team accordingly who will then facilitate where possible.


Your Contribution and Benefits

Not only will your time be of great benefit to the conservation efforts that take place on the reserve, through the programme fee you pay, a lot of your financial contribution goes back into the reserve and maintaining the conservation programme and employing the local people all year round to make this happen.

The idyllic location and abundant wildlife of the reserve makes it a great choice for anyone that is looking to volunteer in conservation in Madagascar. The experience itself will allow you to enjoy the pristine, untouched, beautiful beaches and stunning forests on the reserve as well as making a real difference for the diverse plant and animal species based here.

Volunteers do this through wildlife conservation and monitoring, physical maintenance and renovation on the reserve, forest enhancement activities and environmental education awareness.

Suitable for

Singles
Couples
Groups

Details on Arrival

The programme starts every 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month and ends on the Tuesday of your final week. The programme runs throughout the year.

You should book your flights to Antanarivo International Airport (airport code is TNR). You will then need to book a domestic flight for the following day to fly from Antanarivo to Tolanaro Airport in Fort Daulphin (airport code is FTU).

Program Requirements

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).
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Criminal Background Check
required
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
You should also be physically fit, as volunteering overseas can be quite strenuous. If you have any medical/mental health conditions that may affect your participation overseas then these must be declared to us during your online application.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

Any questions? Just ask. We at Plan My Gap Year are happy to help you.

Contact Project Coordinator

Free-time activities

 You’ll have plenty of opportunity to travel during your time with PMGY. In fact, we encourage you to travel during your free time. All of our programmes have been designed so that you have weekends off. This gives you the opportunity to explore the local area or even travel further afield within your host country. Our local coordinators will provide you with all the travel tips you need to help you plan any independent adventures.

Furthermore, you’re going to meet so many new people during your time with PMGY that you’ll definitely meet some travel buddies along the way!

Before booking your flights we recommend that you look into travel opportunities within the relevant country either side of your volunteering placement. It is always great to spend some time travelling and seeing more of the country you wish to volunteer in. If you do plan to travel extensively please factor this into your flight itinerary, as we only encourage travel during weekends while you’re volunteering as you have made a commitment to the project.

Swimming
Diving/Snorkling
Hiking
Sports
Contact & Reservation
$376
/week
$376
/week
1 - 12
weeks
1 - 12
weeks
18+
age
18+
age
Airport Pickup
Housing
Food
Internet
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Included Services

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Services by Plan My Gap Year
  • Accommodation
  • 3 meals a day
  • Airport pickup (Antananarivo)
  • One night in a hotel in Antananarivo
  • Airport pickup(Fort Dauphin)
  • In-country orientation
  • 24 hour in-country support
  • 24h UK-based support
  • Comprehensive volunteer handbook
  • Live pre-departure webinars
  • Certification of completion
Airport Pickup at Marillac

The transfer will take around 3-4 hours from Fort Daulphin to the project site.

Accommodation

 During your time with PMGY when on the reserve you will live in our volunteer huts. The huts are extremely basic and designed to fit in with the eco-friendly way of life adopted on the reserve.

The bungalows include mattress, mattress cover, sheet, pillowcase, solar light and solar USB charger.

Each hut has either single or bunk beds with usually 1-4 people per room. Volunteers are advised to bring some warm clothes as temperatures can drop through the night. Mosquito nets are provided. You are also welcome to bring your own mats if you want some extra comfort.

Bathrooms are shared, have a shower and western style toilet. The water is usually cold but after a hot day on the reserve this is usually very refreshing!

We encourage you to bring some small padlocks for your suitcase to store any valuables you may have. There will also be fridge space available for volunteers to store any items they need to keep chilled. Volunteers are advised to note that cupboard space is not readily available.

There are communal areas across the reserve where volunteers can relax and socialise. These are outdoor areas that bring with it some stunning views of the reserve and usually volunteers pass the time on the tranquil reserve by playing board games and card games, reading books or a stroll to the nearby untouched beach.

There are always local team representatives that live on site at the reserve. Although volunteers have their own private space there is still the security of living next to our local team who can assist you if need be. It is also a great way socialise and to learn more about Madagascan way of life.

Volunteers are advised to note that as the programme is centrally based on the reserve and conservation based; you will be living with wildlife and insects endemic to the area around the reserve 24/7.

Bungalow
Food & Beverages

All meals whilst on the reserve are included in the Programme Fees volunteers pay. There is an on-site cook who prepares lunch and dinner fresh each day.

In line with the simple way of life on the reserve the food is usually made up of local fresh ingredients and quite basic in its nature.

Volunteers are advised to use their short time in Fort Daulphin before heading to the reserve to stock up on snacks etc as these are not accessible once based at the reserve for the remainder of your programme.

If you bring food to the reserve please also bring solid plastic storage containers with tight lids, or ziplock bags, to avoid attracting ants.


Here is an example of the meals you can expect:

Breakfast: fresh fruit, tea/coffee/ local baked camp bread, jam

Lunch: rice, beans, fresh vegetables, occasional meat

Dinner: curry sauce, pasta, rice, fresh vegetables, occasional meat

Internet Access
Sorry, no access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.

No worries, Volunteer World supports you in raising funds, checking your visa regulations and travel insurance. We also assist you in finding the cheapest flights for your journey.
Costs (Prices in USD)
1 week (min. stay)
$519.00
2 weeks
$774.00
3 weeks
$984.00
4 weeks
$1,179.00
6 weeks
$1,584.00
8 weeks
$1,989.00
12 weeks (max. stay)
$2,799.00
Average fees
$376.00/week

You can volunteer at the project site in Taolagnaro/Madagascar between 1 week and 12 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Plan My Gap Year 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 Plan My Gap Year during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Get ready to volunteer in Madagascar

Check out first

Visa Regulations
Depending on your nationality, you have to arrange your visa for Madagascar. Please check the visa regulations for Madagascar.
Travel Seasons
Find out the best time to volunteer in Madagascar and receive information on weather and climatic conditions.
Living Costs
Living costs vary with each destination. We give an overview of what you should plan as an estimated budget to volunteer in Madagascar.
Budgeting
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Madagascar.

What's next?

Airport
The nearest airport is Marillac (FTU) in Fort Dauphin. 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.
Vaccine Checker
If you are intending to volunteer in Madagascar you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Madagascar.
Free-time
What can you do in leisure-time in Madagascar while you are not working at your volunteer opportunity?
n/a, Taolagnaro, Madagascar zoom="6"

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