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African Marine and Wildlife Conservation Expedition

Make the most out of your time abroad and experience two amazing locations, while volunteering on critical terrestrial and marine conservation projects.


Program Information

Discover two breath-taking locations when you travel to South Africa and the Seychelles to contribute to vital terrestrial and marine conservation initiatives. Learn to track animals, study their behaviour, conduct mangrove surveys and more while living amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Step out of your comfort zone and experience two amazing locations, brimming with iconic wildlife, rich culture and exotic scenery. Experience a side of South Africa and the Seychelles that few have seen, when you join a team of international volunteers committed to the conservation of these beautiful, yet endangered, ecosystems.

On this multi country project you will volunteer in a wide range of conservation projects, giving you a holistic view on how these fragile ecosystems rely on each other. In the Seychelles, you will be assisting the Seychelles National Parks Authority with crucial wildlife and island conservation projects while working with an abundance of flora and fauna. In South Africa, you will be volunteering with an international team in order to collect vital behavioural data on reintroduced predators and large herbivores on a private game reserve. In order to assist with this vital conservation work you will be trained to use research equipment to help locate predators in the reserve and you will receive invaluable training in large animal identification, tracking and behavioural study skills.

If you are looking to learn more about conservation, contribute to a meaningful project and want to spend time in two incredible locations, this is definitely the project for you!

No special skills or qualifications are required to join this program, as all training will be provided by our fully qualified field teams. All we ask is an enthusiasm to learn and become fully involved and immersed in this unique opportunity.

Please note travel between South Africa and the Seychelles is not included, but please speak to your Country Expert who will be able to advise you on your options and costs involved.

Highlights

Travelling to two visually stunning countries; exploring the nearby regions such as the Drakensberg Mountains; visiting the National Parks; snorkelling in crystal clear water; travelling to the other islands of the Seychelles; contributing to the conservation of the endangered tortoises; mastering radio telemetry techniques; learning to track animals through the bush; living and working alongside FGASA qualified South Africa Guides and making a sustainable long-term contribution to the conservation of the incredible fauna and flora that call these two countries home.

Program Details

Project Life

Seychelles

While living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, your time will be spent rotating between a wide range of conservation efforts. Volunteers can expect to work from Monday to Friday with weekends free to explore the surrounding area. Volunteers will spend the majority of the time on foot, working in the forests and on the beaches, experiencing the different field techniques and varied project sites.

At the end of each workday, you will return to base with the rest of your team to relax and get ready for another exciting but rewarding day. Accommodation will be shared dormitory style and duties such as cooking and cleaning will be shared amongst the volunteers on a rotational basis.

On weekends you are encouraged to explore the nearby area and islands. Visit Praslin, home to the Valle de Mai  (a world heritage site) thought by early explorers to be the original “ Garden of Eden, go snorkelling in the sparkling blue waters, relax on the beautiful beaches, trek through this tropical paradise alongside your fellow volunteers.

South Africa

As you adjust to life in the heart of South Africa’s bush, you will undergo extensive training to give you the skills to carry out radio tracking, monitoring of all the collared predators of the reserve, mammal and bird identification, ecology and bush first aid.

A typical day on the reserve will see you tracking the wildlife and conducting research from the game vehicles for up to 12 hours. This is to develop a baseline and a holistic understanding of all aspects of the bush. Most of the research is on predators such as lions, leopards, cheetahs and hyena, but you may have the opportunity to monitor other wildlife such as elephants. Depending on the daily schedule, if you are not assisting on game drives you may be working on data entry or helping with camp cooking duties. Another aspect of life on the reserve, is our community work, where volunteers participate in educational days with local communities to help highlight the importance of conservation.

Accommodation will be basic but comfortable, with access to electricity and flushing toilets. Sleeping arrangements will be dormitory style with shared bathrooms, kitchen and outdoor social areas.

During your time off, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the surrounding areas and activities, including visits to local reptile parks and animal sanctuaries, as well as mountain trails.

Project Details

Our project aims vary between the two countries, but all are focused on conserving the natural resources and wildlife that call these regions home.

In the Seychelles, you will be focusing on several key conservation efforts within and around the Curieuse Island National Park. Volunteers can look forward to possibly participating in the following: endemic Coco Der Mer surveys, mangrove survey and census research, giant tortoise habitat management and restoration, turtle nesting, Lemon shark tagging, Coco de Mer monitoring as well educational campaigns to highlight the importance of conservation. Through our partner, The Seychelles National Parks Authority, the data collected will be passed to the Seychelles Ministry of Environment and participating NGOs to be used in creating local conservation policies and shared worldwide with other conservation teams and efforts.

In South Africa, we have regular contact with our partners, reserve managers and other members of the broader conservation and research community to determine our areas of focus. Depending on weather conditions, time of year and game movements, volunteers can expect to be a part of the following: detailed monitoring of predators (lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena); herbivore sex/age ratio and its effect on predator movement; elephant impact vegetation surveys; darting/fitting radio collars to predators; monitoring of sensitive areas; invasive vegetation species eradication; and community projects focused around conservation.

Curieuse and Limpopo's short, mid, and long-term objectives:

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.

Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfill our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to:

In Curieuse:

1. Increase scientific knowledge and baseline data on the health of ecosystems on Curieuse Island
2. Increase awareness of GVI Seychelles projects and the ecological value of the Curieuse Island National Parks in-country
3. Build local capacity to support long-term conservation of biodiversity and sustainable community development in Seychelles
4. Continue to minimize our environmental impact on Curieuse Island and raise awareness of environmental issues amongst volunteers and visitors

In Limpopo:

1. To provide long term and consistant data for Karongwe Reserve Management to assist with Reserve Management decisions based on scientific data
2. Increase local awareness of GVI's purpose and impact on Karongwe PGR
3. Increase scientific output
4. Contribute to three large scale reserve management projects alongside the Warden in accordance with the Reserve's Management Plan
5. Increase our in-country capacity by providing environmental and conservation education and training
6. Increase our in-country capacity through community upliftment projects

How this project makes a difference

In conjunction with our partners, we are one of the leading marine and terrestrial data collection organisations in Seychelles. We help local organisations execute projects that they do not have the manpower to do alone.

GVI spends up to 12 hours a day collecting data on large predators such as lions, leopards and cheetah at our South Africa hub. The information gathered is used to give an accurate picture of the predators’ impact on prey populations, determine social structure, genetics, and spatial movement. This vital information helps maintain a healthy balance of these natural resources and ultimately conserve some of Africa’s most important ecosystems.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.


Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.


Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.


GVI’s primary partner on this programme is the Seychelles National Parks Authority. Data collected from your efforts is passed to the Seychelles Ministry of Environment and participating NGOs to be used in creating local conservation policies and is shared worldwide with other conservation teams and efforts. To do this we work on various environmental conservation initiatives, such as safeguarding sea turtles, conducting bird surveys, surveying Coco De Mer growth, mangrove mapping, Giant Tortoise population censuses, and sicklefin lemon shark monitoring.


This is to offer support to our local partners, assist in the conservation of these islands flora and fauna, and to address many of the UN Sustainable


Development Goals, such as #14 – Life Below Water, #15 – Life On Land, #4 – Quality Education and #17- Partnerships For Goals


Our Partners In Curieuse

Project Objectives

 


GVI Curieuse Long-term Objectives:  


1. Increase scientific knowledge and baseline data on the health of ecosystems on Curieuse Island,


2. Increase awareness of GVI Seychelles projects and the ecological value of the Curieuse Island National Parks in-country,


3. Build local capacity to support long-term conservation of biodiversity and sustainable community development in Seychelles,


4. Continue to minimize our environmental impact on Curieuse Island and raise awareness of environmental issues amongst volunteers and visitors.


What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • First Aid & CPR training
  • Live and work in a protected reserve
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Research training
  • Reserve fees and permits
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Telemetry training as relevant
  • Terrestrial research training
  • Travel advice
  • Welcome meeting
  • Wildlife identification techniques

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — Traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.


Support

Once a participant books, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Safety

Upon arrival at the airport participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. Our minimum staff to participant ratio is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.


Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov

HOW GVI UPHOLDS HEALTH AND SAFETY

It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.


1 Nov

GVI’S COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AND SECURITY

As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.


6 Nov

HOW GVI REMAINS PREPARED FOR NATURAL DISASTERS

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.


5 Nov

HOW GVI MANAGES PARTICIPANTS EXPECTATIONS

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.


Country Exploration

Joining a GVI program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunity to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer. Many decide to travel before or after their GVI experience, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program.


Our own long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.


Weekend Trips

Curieuse surrounds

Lounge on the local beaches, snorkel in the coral reefs, hike the jungles and explore, or just relax on base.


Praslin Island visit

Praslin is home to the Vallee de Mai (a world heritage site) thought by early explorers to be the original “Garden of Eden”, that is home of the famous Coco de Mer palm tree. Praslin has a limited, cheap bus service and taxis are easily available. For further exploration, you may choose to hire a car on Praslin or make use of the inter-island ferry services between the other islands.


La Digue Island visit

La Digue is the picture perfect tropical island, small and intimate with quaint guest houses and arguably the most beautiful beach in the world – Anse Source d’Argent.


Further Travels

Outer Island Visits

The outer coral islands like Desroche, Bird, Dennis, Farquhar, and the Amirantes group, are further away, but well worth the trip. These locations are much more remote and have been barely marked by civilisation. As such they are in a pristine condition rarely found anywhere in the world today. The opportunity to see unique marine and bird life is unprecedented.


Madagascar

The only location in the world to spot lemurs in the wild is only a three hour flight away from the Seychelles.


Other African Nations

Kenya and Tanzania are also only about three hour flight  away, and both feature amazing wildlife, exciting adventure activities, and unique cultural diversity to explore. If you are willing to commit to further travel you could also explore destinations like South Africa, Ghana, Malawi, or Morocco.


Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches not only global awareness but adaptability and critical thinking, skills highly valued in the modern marketplace. Local and cultural immersion is encouraged on all our programs around the world, and is also one of the most enjoyable aspects of the GVI experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your GVI program. On our community programs the focus is on cultural topics, while on marine or wildlife programs the emphasis is more on the environmental element. Use your evenings and weekends to explore diverse and eclectic topics like Theravada Buddhism in Laos or how plastic pollution and climate change affects Indian Ocean coral.


Languages

Seychellois Creole is spoken by the majority of the native Seychellois, roughly 95% of the populations, but as the island country was a British colony, English is the language officially used in government and business dealings. French is also spoken on the islands, by a minority.


Festivals

There are festivals throughout the year, the most notable being the Seychelles International Carnival of Victoria in February, which celebrates the cultures that helped shape the Seychelles. There is also the La Digue Festival in mid-August and the Creole Festival in October, and for those interested in the natural world, there is the SUBIOS Underwater Festival on Mahe’s main beach in October, celebrating underwater conservation.


Seychelles

Seychelles:


The Seychelles is a tropical archipelago off the East Coast of Africa, consisting of 100 islands. The main, or so-called inner islands, are made of granite. Researchers believe that they use to form part of the Indian subcontinent. The granite attracted corals and most of the outer islands of the Seychelles are based on coral. The islands are famous for their unique biodiversity and are home to literally thousands of unique land and underwater species. The waters of the Indian Ocean are a haven for coral conservation efforts making the Seychelles a sought-after diving destination.


Curieuse Island

GVI’s island conservation program in the Seychelles is based on the island of Curieuse, which itself and its surrounding waters are a national park, managed by our principal in-country partner, Seychelles National Parks Authority. Curieuse has very few inhabitants compared to most of the other larger islands, making its natural habitat is very well-preserved.



This beautiful coastal area consists of unique habitats including mangroves wetlands, seagrass beds, and coral reefs. Assist in our annual census of the island’s Aldabra Giant tortoise, who outnumber the human inhabitants of Curieuse. Collect growth and reproductive data for the endemic and unique Coco de Mer palm tree. Among the mangroves you will find species of fish, crab, and birds found exclusively in the Seychelles. Venture further into the water and spy green and hawksbill turtles snacking on seagrass. Further out at sea, if you are very lucky, you might spot one of the whale sharks who visit the islands for a short time every year.


Select a Start Date

  • 2019
  • 2020

Select a Duration

Select a start date first.

Select Add-Ons

+ £15
 
+ £195
 
+ £50
 

Publications

The best decisions in international development and conservation cannot be made without accurate and up-to-date data or informed research. Our many field teams around the world collaborate with local and international partners to analyse data and draw conclusions. In addition, many of our participants have used research they have collected on their various GVI projects to complete their Masters, Doctorate, or postdoctoral studies. We also run a fellowship program which connects postdoctoral researchers at globally-respected universities with our many sustainable development programs around the world to support their research and ensure continuous improvement of our best practices on base.


Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

live base updates

Follow GVI Volunteer-In-Curieuse's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
 
GVISeychellesMaheCurieuse

Arrivals

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.


As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.