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Madagascar Lemur and Wildlife Conservation Expedition

Looking to ‘save the lemurs’? You’ve come to the right place.

Program Code: MGNB0921E

Program Information

Help to protect endangered and critically endangered lemur species in the only remaining primeval rainforest on the tropical island of Nosy Be. Set up cameras to capture images and videos of elusive creatures, survey the forest for the tiniest of frogs and chameleons and help to restore their natural habitat by getting involved in regrowing indigenous tree species.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

 
Remote-Working Friendly
 
Reliable WIFI
 
Part-Time Options

Overview

Travel to one of the most ecologically distinct places on earth, Madagascar. Nearly all species found on this island off the East coast of Africa can be found only here. The most famous of these is the lemur. Sadly, nearly a third of lemur species are critically endangered and nearly all are threatened with extinction. This makes lemurs the earth’s most at risk group of mammals. 

You’ll be working to conserve one endangered lemur species, the Black lemur, and two critically endangered lemur species, the Nosy Be sportive lemur, also known as the Hawks' sportive lemur, and the Nosy Be mouse lemur, also known as the Claire’s mouse lemur, one of the smallest primates in the world.

Your work will be based in Lokobe National Park, the only remaining old-growth rainforest on the island of Nosy Be. You’ll carry out surveys of the forest both during the day and at night recording what lemur behaviour you can observe first-hand and monitoring camera traps for evidence of more shy individuals. On your surveys you’ll also record sightings of the panther chameleon, a striking, frequently poached creature, as well as one of the smallest frogs and one of the smallest chameleons in the world, both of which are endangered. Sightings of the many butterfly species found here are also common. 

Habitat loss is one of the biggest threats to endangered species, including lemurs, and you’ll also be working to restore the rainforest by assisting with the regrowth of indigenous plants. 

When you aren’t engaged in conservation work, be sure to also visit the protected beach and marine area bordering the forest. Here, you can swim, snorkel or dive in the warm waters surrounded by vibrant corals, tropical fish, sea turtles and dolphins.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Help protect endangered and critically endangered lemurs.

  • Work to conserve other species found only here.

  • Live in an ancient rainforest on the coast of the tropical ocean.

  • Visit the many other National Parks in Madagascar to see other lemur species and other wildlife.

  • In your free time, see humpbacks whales, whale sharks and hammerheads.

Program Details

 
Flexibility
Change your location and dates free of charge.
 
Payment Plans
Flexible payment plans available.
 
Cancellation Waiver
Cancel anytime and receive a full refund minus your deposit.

Select a Start Date

  • 2021
  • 2022

Select a Duration

Select a start date first.

Life On Base

Our base is located on Nosy Be island, which, like the rest of Madagascar, is known for its abundant and unique biodiversity that can be found only here. Nosy Be means "big island" in the Malagasy language and is located off the northeastern coast of Madagascar.

Fieldwork on the conservation project may include trekking through the Lokobe Strict Reserve looking for signs of critically endangered lemurs or the great variety of bird, reptile, amphibian and butterfly species that call this rainforest habitat home. Some forest surveys are conducted in the morning or at night, which means you could catch a glimpse of spectacular sunsets and sunrises over the Indian Ocean. There are bound to be many photo opportunities during the course of your program.

Participants specialising in community development might support English language learning for young students in the morning and Lokobe park rangers and other adults in the evening.

The base is basic but comfortable with lots of space in which to take part in training workshops, carry out research or just relax after a busy day. We’re much like a big family on base and cooking and tidying duties are shared on a rotation basis among staff and participants. Evenings include debriefs on the day’s activities and enjoying a meal together.

Base Tour

 

COVID-19 Safety

Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place. Learn more.

Covid-19 Response

Health and Hygiene

For over 20 years, GVI has prioritised the health and safety of our staff, participants, partners and local community members. In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, GVI has created the GVI health and hygiene team to put in place new standards of cleanliness, norms and behaviours that meet or exceed international recommendations to ensure the ongoing safety of GVI’s participants, staff and communities around the world. Internationally recommended practices, such as advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the governments Australia, UK and US, continue to be monitored and the standards are likely to change if and when international advice changes.


The work GVI is contributing to across the globe remains important and the following measures allow our participants to continue to join GVI’s programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. The following changes to our existing protocols have been made by the GVI health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities.


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.


Live Updates

Follow GVI Volunteer-In-Nosy-Be-Wildlife'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.
 
GVIMadagascarWildlifeConservation

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. In most locations, we also set up a Whatsapp group to help with managing airport arrivals. 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.


 

COVID-19 Safety

Please note that the above images were taken pre COVID-19. All airport pick-ups and program operations now run with enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures in place. Learn more.

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.


Lokobe is the only remaining primary forest on the island of Nosy Be. It’s also a rainforest, recognised as a nationally protected area by the government of Madagascar and defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a Strict Nature Reserve.


Critically endangered species

The area is home to one species of endangered lemur, the black lemur, and two species of critically endangered lemur, the Nosy Be sportive lemur, also known as the Hawks’ Lemur, and the Nosy Be mouse lemur, also known as the Claire’s mouse lemur. We track these lemurs and carry out behavioural surveys. We also set up and monitor camera traps.


Biodiversity data

We also carry out tracking, camera trapping and surveys of other animals in the park, including insects, amphibians and reptiles, both in the day and at night. This helps us determine the bioindicators of the park. The park has not been rigorously surveyed since the 1990s and knowing the health of the park can help local conservationists, governments and international organisations make better decisions.


Preventing poaching and the illegal wildlife trade

While the panther chameleon is considered of least concern, it is a highly poached and trafficked species as part of the illegal pet trade. We monitor panther chameleon numbers in the forests to keep track of what naturally occurring numbers in the forest look like and ensure that the population remains sustainable.


Preventing deforestation and illegal logging

Habitat loss poses one of the greatest threats to all species. This is no exception in Madagascar, which has lost significant swathes of forest. We assist local park rangers and other organisations with maintaining endemic plant nurseries that will later be planted out into the forest. We also support other activities related to sustainable agroforestry and protections against deforestation and illegal logging, where possible.


The main United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) the GVI Nosy Be contributes towards is Goal 15, Life On Land.


Project Objectives

 


GVI Nosy Be | Wildlife Hub | Long-term Objectives:


1. Establishing the baseline biodiversity of Lokobe National Park, which hasn’t been rigorously surveyed since the early 1990s.


2. Reforestation, sustainable agroforestry, and working towards the prevention of the illegal logging and deforestation of Madagascar’s National Parks.


3. Monitoring and protection of endemic species heavily poached for the pet trade, such as the panther chameleon, one of the most poached and heavily trafficked chameleon species in the world.


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.


 


We want to constantly develop our own understanding of ethical best practice. In so doing, we aim to provide an exemplary industry standard for other education institutions, international development organisations, and social enterprises. Our Badge of Ethics stands for the drive to always do good, better. Find out more, click on the Badge below.


 

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 conducted, 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.


Program Ethics

 

NO ENTERTAINMENT-BASED ACTIVITIES

We don’t support the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. This includes riding animals, having them perform tricks, feeding or bathing them or getting close to them to take photos

NO ORPHANED ANIMAL SANCTUARIES

We don’t encourage, support or allow the rearing of “orphaned” wild baby animals kept at a “sanctuary”. The conservation value of these types of programs is negligent and would only ethically be used in extremely rare cases

GUIDELINES FOR TOUCHING OR MOVEMENT RESTRICTION

When wild animals are restricted for conservation purposes we follow the guidelines of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA), approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

ANIMAL WELFARE GUIDELINES

We ensure that the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare are followed. These include the freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from distress, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear, pain, injury or disease.

LOCAL COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT

We ensure that conservation efforts are also always locally led, that community needs are front-and centre of any conservation effort and that our participants, projects and partners work to increase local community engagement in local conservation efforts.

NO VETERINARY PROGRAMS

We don’t offer any veterinary programs or animal rescue and rehabilitation programs. We don’t allow participants to do any work they would not be able to do in their home country.

Training

A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.


For All GVI Participants

Orientation: Your Health, Safety and Wellbeing

 

Orientation: Travelling Responsibly and Ethically

 

Orientation: UN Sustainable Development Goals

 

Orientation: Further Opportunities for Impact

 

Qualifications

Free time

Joining a program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer.


Long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Many decide to travel before or after their experience (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program. 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

Mount Passot

Mount Passot is the highest point on Nosy Be island at 329 metres above sea level. You can either hike up the mountain or take a taxi to the top, if you aren't feeling very energetic. It’s also a great place to enjoy a 360-degree scenic view of the island and watch the sun go down over the Mozambique Channel.

Whale watching

June to September is humpback whale watching season. During this season you can book a responsible and ethical tour provider and head out to stand a chance to spot some, if you’re lucky. During certain seasons there might also be an opportunity to spot other kinds of whales, such as the incredibly rare Omura whale.

Diving

Book a recreational dive to experience the variety of Indian Ocean marine life up close. Among the vibrant corals, you can spot a variety of tropical fish. Some of the species that call this location home include stingrays and manta rays.

Beaches

Visit one of Nosy Be’s many palm-lined stretches of golden beach, such as Andilana, Ambondrona, Madirokely and Ambatoloaka, to enjoy a relaxing day swimming in the warm waters or simply soaking up the sun.

The Sacred Tree

Go see the Sacred Tree, located close to Mahatsinjo village, on the western side of Nosy Be island. This huge banyan tree was planted by the queen of the Sakalava people in 1836 and is a favoured spot of the local black lemurs who can sometimes be seen in its high branches.

Lokobe National Park

We’re based right on the edge of Lokobe National Park which holds the last remaining preserved primitive forest on the island of Nosy Be. The forest is bordered by a beach and is home to three species of lemur, including one of the smallest primates on Earth.

Further Travels

South Africa

South Africa is a mere three-and-a-half-hour flight away from Madagascar. Fly to Johannesburg and book a safari tour through the famous Kruger National Park and experience the beauty of the coast by planning a trip to Cape Town or Durban.

Seychelles

Visit the many islands of Seychelles. From the main island of Mahe, you can catch a boat to many of the other islands. Visit Curieuse, Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette, Felicity, and Sister islands.

Mainland Madagascar

Visit the mainland to see a greater variety of species and experience other distinct cultures of Madagascar. See ring-tailed lemurs in Isalo National Park, hike the stone forests of Tsingy De Bemaraha National Park and walk the Avenue of Baobabs.

Neighbouring island visits

Madagascar is surrounded by many islands and islets. From our location on Nosy Be island, you can visit the neighbouring island of Nosy Sakatia, where you might be able to spot green or hawksbill turtles depending on the season and your luck. You can also visit Nosy Komba, known for its sacred lemur population, and Nosy Iranja, two islets connected by a long stretch of white-sanded beach.

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 your experience. Luckily, there are many activities you can get involved with in your free time, or before and after your 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.


WILDLIFE

As a result of the island's long isolation from neighbouring continents, Madagascar is home to endemic flora and fauna found nowhere else on Earth. The most well-known and popular of these are lemurs. The island of Nosy Be is home to three species of lemur, including one of the smallest primates in the world. Nosy Be is also known for a famous variation of panther chameleon and one of the smallest chameleons and frogs known to exist.

MARINE LIFE

The warm waters of the Indian Ocean surrounding Madagascar are home to a variety of marine species such as clownfish and manta rays. Depending on the time of year, and your luck, you might also be able to spot green and hawksbill turtles, humpback whales, whale sharks and the incredibly rare Omura whale.

CRAFTS AND PRODUCE

Many of Madagascar’s cultures have long standing artisanal craft traditions. Some of these include intricate embroidery and brightly coloured baskets. Madagascar is also the primary supplier of an estimated 80% of the world’s natural vanilla. The island of Nosy Be itself is known for its production of ylang-ylang, an essential oil used in many popular perfumes.

FESTIVALS AND CELEBRATIONS

The most notable festivals on the island of Nosy Be are dedicated to music. The Nosy Be Jazz Festival is held in April and the Donia Music Festival is held towards the end of May and the beginning of June.

LANGUAGES

Most people in Madagascar speak Malagasy, a language with many dialects. The dialect that is most commonly spoken in the area in which we are based is Sakalava. Due to the influence of French colonialism, French is also frequently used throughout Madagascar.

Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Heritage, 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 and high participant ratios.
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.

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.


 

COVID-19 Safety

Enhanced cleaning and social-distancing measures are in place throughout each GVI program. Learn more.

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. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs 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.


What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency desk
  • 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
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • COVID-19: Health and Hygiene Fee
  • 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)