WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
Help conserve species found nowhere else on earth
The projects aims are to contribute to the current understanding of the local environment and help monitor the spectacular array of wildlife found here. Madagascar has been isolated for over 84 million years, creating a biodiversity resource of global significance, with over 80% of species found nowhere else on Earth! Nosy Be's fauna includes three species of Lemur, including the diminutive Mouse Lemurs (Microcebus), the smallest primates on earth! Reptiles include rare Turtles, Snakes, Gecko's including the superbly camouflaged Leaf-tailed Gecko's (Uroplatus), Skinks and an array of Chameleon's.
There is spectacular bird life on the island, with the highest levels of endemism of any similar sized area in the world, as well as some elusive tenrecs – a group of small mammals that are incredibly diverse, filling niches in aquatic, teresterial, arboreal and fossorial environments, resembling everything from otters to hedgehogs.
Desertification & hunting
Madagascar's human population has doubled since 1960, leading to increased deforestation and overgrazing, which in turn has caused massive soil erosion and desertification. Only one tenth of the original forests remain, and this situation is rapidly deteriorating as the human population continues to grow. The forests are cut down to provide nutrients and land for agriculture, as well as being used as hunting grounds in the more remote and poor communities.
Empower Malagasy communities
You will be assessing the local flora and fauna of the region through biodiversity surveys of Mammals, Birds, Butterflies, Reptiles and Amphibians with the aim of informing and educating the local government and communities. It is our goal to leave a lasting impact in the region and to help the local communities appreciate and conserve their local environment, and to avoid the pitfalls of exploitation. You will interact with the community providing environmental education days. This will enable you to evaluate the impact of the human population on the wildlife, and help to develop ideas allowing the community to lead more sustainable lifestyles.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
The main aims of the programme are to assess the biodiversity in this little-studied area and compare different habitat types and the effects of human disturbance, which may take several forms. We hope to gain insights into how each species, or family of animals is responding to human induced habitat modification and other anthropogenic stresses. It is our aim to discover which species are able to adapt and cope with human interaction and which species may be intolerant to any form of disturbance. By helping us to find out which species are most vulnerable to human disturbance, we can help design specific conservation action plans for better conservation management in the future, and inform the local Ministries responsible for managing the forests.
Our current projects involve carrying out extensive surveys of the local Mammals, Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians that exist in the surrounding forests. These surveys are conducted in a variety of habitat types, ranging from primary forest to plantation type habitats along a gradient of human disturbance. Our survey techniques range from setting up canopy or pitfall traps, active searches during both the day and night and behavioural surveys to collecting morphometric data on Chameleons and Snakes and learning how to record Birds by identifying their calls. Madagascar is also one of the few tropical countries where snakes are relatively harmless, and handling techniques can be honed without the risk of serious envenomation! In addition we will also be doing mapping of vegetation, assessing disturbance and resource-use in the area to build up an accurate picture of resource use. For more details on our specific projects and methods, as well as our results so far please see our most recent Science Report.
If this is your first time doing conservation work, don't worry! It will only take a short while for you to feel totally at home on camp and confident with the science work. Although the work is intense you'll find that living in such a beautiful and inaccessible environment alongside friends who share your passion for conservation will be the experience of a lifetime!
You'll find your team to be a fun, dynamic mix of ages (usually between 18 and 25, though no age limit applies), and experiences, with members who all share a passion about travelling in developing countries and saving endangered life. Your staff will be young, friendly individuals who are highly experienced in their field and many may have volunteered on a Frontier project earlier in their career.
06:00 - breakfast; bread, sandwiches or cebada
06:30 - bird survey
08:30 - active search for reptiles/amphibians or lemur survey
11:00 - butterfly survey
12:30 - lunch; rice and beans!
13:30 - active search for reptiles/amphibians or lemur survey
16:00 - revision or presentations
18:00 - dinner; rice and beans, or option to eat out in the village
19:00 - night walk - active search for amphibians/reptiles
*This itinerary should only be considered as an example of the kind of activities and timescales to expect. Actual itineraries may vary depending on the season and the requirements of the project.
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