Vacancy: Madagascar Lemur Conservation
Reference Number: MGL
Category: Conservation Projects (Conservation projects, Wildlife, Environmental Work)
Cost : £795
The magical Island of Madagascar is famous for its bizarre assemblage of wildlife, its dramatic landscapes and its unique and varied ecosystems. No other island or place in Earth boasts such a combination of species richness and endemism, which is attributed to 88 million years of separation from all other land forms. For example, every native terrestrial mammal species found on this huge island is endemic, and found nowhere else on Earth! Most famous of all of its inhabitants though are the Lemurs, with104 currently recognised Lemur species in Madagascar, all of which are believed to have evolved from a single colonising ancestor, who reached this isolated island some 50million years ago! Madagascar is considered one of 4 global hotspots for primates, despite being less than a 10th the size of some of the other regions.
Unfortunately, Madagascar is also one of the most heavily impacted countries in terms of habitat loss, with some estimates indicating that almost 90% of native forest has been lost, leaving very fragmented small pieces of forest. This, in addition to subsistence hunting, has decimated lemur populations across Madagascar; recent assessments by the IUCN now showing that the Lemurs are the most endangered group of vertebrates in the world, with 94 species being classified as threatened with extinction.
In Madagascar, there are weird, unique and wonderful forms of life everywhere that you look, and the more you discover about each of them, the more amazing they become! In addition to lemurs, Madagascar, and the island of Nosy Be, is filled with rare and endemic reptiles and amphibians, including both the largest and smallest chameleon species in the world, and 1000’s of bright and beautiful, rare and endemic birds and butterflies. This sentiment was summed up perfectly by the 18th century French doctor and explorer, Joseph Philibert Commerson in a letter to his tutor in Paris:
"Of Madagascar I can announce to naturalists that this is truly their promised land. Here nature seems to have created a special sanctuary whither she seems to have withdrawn to experiment with designs different from any she has created elsewhere. At every step, one meets more remarkable and marvellous forms of life"
Despite these tantalising early accounts, Madagascar is still an island shrouded in mystery, and remains relatively un-studied to this day. Myths and legends abound in Madagascar, and remain deeply embedded in the collective imagination, adding to the sense of magic surrounding the island!
So journey with us to our current location in Northern Madagascar, an area which represents a transitional habitat between the floral communities of both the East and West, an area renowned for its high species diversity and high levels of endemism, one of the most threatened forest habitats in Madagascar - The seasonal humid forests of the Sambirano biome. The Frontier-Madagascar wildlife conservation project is currently based on the 'scented island' of Nosy Be, famous for its vanilla, ylang-ylang and mangoes! Whilst on the wildlife conservation project you’ll discover a huge variety of Madagascar's exotic species, as you trek through rugged and remote regions of this hugely exciting island assessing the status of the islands lemurs.
Working alongside other dedicated volunteers, you’ll help to monitor the distribution and abundance of lemurs on the island and their habitat preferences, in order to assess how they are responding to human induced stress factors such as deforestation, habitat fragmentation and other forms of anthropogenic disturbance. You may also have the opportunity to be part of our reforestation programme, designed to help reforest areas and create natural wildlife corridors for the lemurs to move safely, and socio-economic surveys with the local people, to determine the best methods of land management for lemur populations. Depending on the time of year and length of stay you may also have the chance to be involved in either the building, installing or monitoring of nest boxes, which provide the lemurs with ‘houses’ where natural areas may be lacking. On this project you will directly contribute to important research, aiming to inform local government about how to manage the remaining forests and conserve their invaluable natural assets.
You will learn an array of surveying techniques and have a chance to contribute to the local community through our education outreach days. But of course it is not all work, and after a hard day or night trekking and exploring, you can always take advantage of the camp’s beach front location and relax on the golden beaches, snorkel in the crystal clear waters or play football against the local village!