Professional
Apprenticeship

Encounters of the rarest kind

Wildlife Conservation Apprenticeship in Madagascar

Make the rainforest of Madagascar your office for six months and get hands-on experience in one of the richest biodiversity islands on the planet.

GVI Hub: a home-from-home
Durations: 24 weeks
Fieldwork hours50 hrs of fieldwork per week
GVI experiencesIncludes GVI Experiences

Program information

Set yourself up for a thriving career in nature conservation by contributing to crucial initiatives in Nosy Be – a lush island off the coast of Madagascar. This apprenticeship includes a guaranteed work placement. You’ll spend three months expanding your knowledge and skill set, and then put what you’ve learnt into practice for the next three months. An excellent CV-boosting opportunity.

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Travel flexibility. Transfer for free up to 45 days before travel. Because life happens. Terms and conditions apply.
Overview
Dates & Prices
Itinerary
What's Included
Life On Base
Experiences
New
Free time
Cultural Immersion
Speak to alumni
MEET THE TEAM
Parent Info
Arrivals
Flights
Your Impact
Our Ethics
Program ethics
Qualifications & Training Options
Careers
Support & Safety

Program overview

Inhale the musty air of the overgrown forest. Take in the greenery all around you – from tiny moss to spectacular ferns, orchids and giant ramy trees. Listen to the echoing sounds of endemic birds, frogs and insects, and join the local efforts to protect some of the rarest species on earth.

Madagascar is a unique place. Not only because you’ll find yourself on the edge of the last protected low-lying primitive rainforests in Lokobe National Park, but also because you’ll have the rare honour of working with critically endangered species – like rainbow-coloured panther chameleons and Nosy Be mouse lemurs.

This best-of-both-worlds location means you can immerse yourself in the forest ecosystem, as well as the ocean and shore life with its beautiful coral reefs.

Due to deforestation and unsustainable agricultural practices over the years, only about 20% of Madagascar’s forest areas remain unaffected, with devastating consequences to its inhabitants.

By working alongside our local partner, Madagascar National Parks, you’ll assist experienced conservationists to manage threats like illegal logging, poaching and deforestation.

As an apprentice, you’ll be supporting these ongoing conservation efforts, as well as helping with tasks around the base. Things you’ll do include data collection through various techniques – like leading surveys on invertebrates and monitoring mammals endemic to this coastal forest environment. Responsibilities like cooking, cleaning and helping with logistics will be shared among you and with your fellow participants.

Play your part to support UN SDG 15: Life on Land – by protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and forests, and halting loss of biodiversity.

During your time in Nosy Be, you’ll be staying close to the bustling capital, Hell-Ville (also known as Andoany). From here, you can grab a cup of strong coffee and fresh bread from one of the cafes owned by locals, who mostly speak Malagasy, and explore the interesting streets.

Highlights

Complete a work placement

Kick-start your career with a 3-month work placement in Madagascar, either with GVI or one of our partner organisations.

Find beautiful biodiversity

Immerse yourself in three diverse, species-rich ecosystems – rainforest, ocean and tropical coast – in one location.

Kickstart your career

Participate in three months of intensive fieldwork training to ensure you’re ready to launch directly into your conservation career.

Get a job placement

Work for a conservation partner for three months to get real practical experience and build a network of industry contacts.

Fast track experience

Join a targeted career-readiness program that’s based on two decades of experience to grow your leadership and career skills.

Get a career guarantee

Because our apprenticeships are so intensive and comprehensive, you’ll get a guaranteed job offer if you complete all components.

Advance your career

Gain international experience, receive four recognised qualifications and get a LinkedIn reference to boost your CV.

Get the edge

We know what it takes to work in conservation – that’s why our apprenticeships qualify for preferential recruitment when applying for GVI vacancies.

Is this program for me?

This internship is specifically useful for someone who has or is actively studying the below subject areas at school, university or college, or has an interest in these subject areas.

  • Ecology
  • Population biology
  • Epidemiology
  • Biology
  • Environmental science
  • Wildlife management
  • Zoology
  • Animal husbandry
  • Botany
  • Ecology and evolution
  • Geology
  • Wildlife biology and conservation

Activities

Some of the example typical activities you could participate in on this program.

Fieldwork training

Identify species, conduct surveys and population assessments, assess threats to terrestrial ecosystems, and track ecosystem-level processes.

Data collection and surveys

Learn to track wildlife and lead lemur, bird, reptile and biodiversity surveys.

Contribute to project work

Enter data into citizen science databases, and lead environmental education and community outreach workshops on various environmental topics.

Leadership and fast track training

Complete various courses, including Impact and Ethics, Intro to Project Management, Effective Communication and Leading Teams for Impact.

Leadership responsibilities

Take on additional responsibilities such as entering data, writing reports and summaries, and updating species lists and fieldwork checklists.

Personal project

Work on an individual project that aligns with your personal interests.

Mentorship

Meet weekly in a small group with other interns and an experienced mentor to receive project guidance and feedback on your leadership style.

Skills

  • Data collection
  • Data entry
  • Population ecology
  • Species identification
  • Survey research
  • Wildlife conservation

Partners

Some of the partners we work with on base.

Madagascar National Parks

Program details

Dates and prices

Select a start date:

Hot summer savings.

Book in April to get up to 15% off selected programs!

Secure your spot before spaces fill up.
Payment plans. Flexible payment plans allow you to pay in instalments.

What happens next?

Once you apply, a personal Enrollment Manager will be assigned to walk you through the rest of the process.

Itinerary

The following itinerary is an example of the activities and project work that participants might get involved in on this program. More specific details of the program are finalised several months before each start date.

06:00

Take in the morning views and fresh sea air. If you're an early riser you can enjoy a walk or run before breakfast.

06:30

Prepare and enjoy breakfast with the team. After breakfast, everyone meets for the daily update.

07:00

Hike through the nearby forest and hills to collect data on focus species and biodiversity.

12:30

Lunch is enjoyed as a group. Our delicious Malagasy meals are prepared by a local cook.

13:00

Attend training on conservation or communities or work on your internship or research project.

15:30

Continue project work, deliver environmental awareness workshops or teach English to local community members.

18:00

Enjoy a meal together and discuss the work you did today and its impact on the environment and local community.

19:30

Time to relax, socialise with your new friends, or head out to take part in nocturnal surveys.

What’s included?

What's included
General
Food
Safe and basic accommodation (usually shared)
Airport pick up (unless stated)
All project equipment
24-hour in-country support from local staff
24-hour emergency desk
GVI Experiences
Activities
Sustainable project work
Data collection and research
Leadership responsibilities
Personal project
Placement
12-week placement
Mentorship
Weekly group sessions
Internship supervisor guidance
Pre-program training
Pre-departure webinar
Pre-departure training (online)
University of Richmond endorsed specialisation course
University of Richmond endorsed leadership course
Welcome training
GVI welcome presentation
Health & safety
Local culture & environment
UN SDGs
Impact & ethics
Child protection
Advanced leadership training
Personal development record
Project planning and management
Fast track training
Self-leadership and well-being
Project management
Ethical engagement
Measuring impact
Developing intercultural competence
Effective communication (storytelling and social media)
Team management
Participant journey
Off-site safety management
Safety management in practice (OSSM part 2)
Standards, policies and procedures
Emergency first response (select hubs)
Career services
University of Richmond careers course
Career coaching sessions (x2)
Career guarantee
LinkedIn reference – upon request
Job portal
Preferential recruitment on GVI positions
Certificates
Program certificate
University certificate – specialisation (University of Richmond)
University certificate – leadership (University of Richmond)
University certificate – careers (University of Richmond)
Fast track training certificate
What's excluded
Not included
Flights
International and domestic airport taxes
Medical and travel insurance
Visa costs
Police or background check
Personal items and toiletries
Additional drinks and gratuities

Life On Base

Our base is located on Nosy Be island – also known as the “Perfumed Island” because of its ylang-ylang plantations, which give off a beautiful floral scent during their flowering season. This island is also renowned for its extinct volcanoes, ancient rainforests and an abundance of rare and incredible species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, such as the Nosy Be panther chameleon, the Hawks’ sportive lemur and the Madagascan fish eagle. Nosy Be means “big island” in the local Malagasy language, and is located off the northwestern coast of Madagascar.

Fieldwork on the conservation project includes trekking through the Lokobe National Park, (a strict reserve), looking for signs of critically endangered lemurs and the great variety of bird, reptile, amphibian and butterfly species that call this rainforest habitat home. Forest surveys are conducted in the morning or at night. You can catch spectacular sunsets and sunrises over the Indian Ocean. There are bound to be many priceless photo opportunities during the course of your program.

If you choose to complete a community development program, you will assist with teaching the English language – supporting the younger students with the language, as well as assisting with their grasp of environmental education. That will take place in the mornings. English is a vital skill for people to learn as it’s highly sought after in the local job market and tourism industry.

Accommodation

Your accommodation – which is a stone’s throw from the beach – consists

Accommodation upgrades

Upgrades are available at Les Bungalows d’Ambonara guesthouse, a 10-minute drive from our base (local taxi required, no walking). These upg...

Transportation

Travelling to and from Fascene Airport takes around 25 minutes, and can be arranged with GVI in advance, to align with your program’s start date....

Communication

You will have limited access to long-distance communications while on the program, so make sure that your friends and family know how often they ...

Meals

The Malagasy diet is mostly rice- and bean-based. A typical main meal consists of rice alongside servings of seasonal vegetables in a sauce, with...

Climate

Nosy Be has a hot, tropical climate all year round. The rainy, hotter season is between November and April, and the dry season from May to Octobe...

GVI experiences included in your program, at no extra cost.

Offered once a month, expand your adventure with GVI Experiences. These are just some of the activities offered on your program!

We want you to make the most of the chance to live in – and contribute towards –  the most diverse and unique wildernesses and communities on earth. Introducing GVI Experiences – immersive adventure, cultural and wellness activities exclusive to GVI that have been specially designed in collaboration with our local partners to support and stimulate sustainable economic development. 

Enhance your impact. Expand your adventure. Explore your world.

Take Malagasy lessons
The national language of Madagascar
Explore the cascades of Nosy Be
Peaceful waterfalls for swimming and picnics
Visit a sacred Baobab tree
Ancient trees with deep cultural significance
Snorkel in a marine wonderland
A canopy of coral
Sunset from Mont Passot
Views from Nosy Be's highest point
Sleepover in Lokobe National Park
Camp on a stunning beach

Free time

Joining a GVI program not only allows you 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 over weekends.

Field staff are a great source of advice and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. You can choose to travel before or after your experience with GVI (subject to immigration restrictions), solidifying the lifetime friendships you’ve established on the program. Please note that the below options are not included in the program fee, and would be up to you to arrange at your own expense.

Weekend Trips

Cafes and markets

You can spend time in the village and visit a local market, cafe or...

Mont Passot

Mont Passot is the highest point on Nosy Be Island, at 329 metres a...

Whale watching

June to September is humpback whale-watching season. During this season you can book a tour with a responsible, ethical tour provider. If you’re ...

Diving

Book a recreational dive to experience the exceptional variety of Indian Ocean marine life up close. Among the vibrant corals, you can spot a vas...

Beaches

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

The Sacred Tree

Visit 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,...

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 for...

Further Travels

South Africa

South Africa is a mere three-and-a-half-hour flight from Madagascar. Fly to Johannesburg and book a safari tour through the famous Kruger National Park or experience the beauty ...

Seychelles

This breathtaking archipelago of islands is home to pristine beaches, coral reefs, nature reserves, as well as rare animals such as the giant Ald...

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 forest...

Neighbouring island

Madagascar is surrounded by many islands and islets. From our location on Nosy Be Island

Cultural Immersion

Engaging intimately with a new context teaches global awareness, 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 will also be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your experience. Luckily, there are many different activities that you can get involved in during 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 topics like local cuisine and religion, or how sustainable development challenges are affecting local contexts.

Marodoka cultural circuit

Marodoka village, which means “the ancient village” in Swahili, is located a few kilometres from Nosy Be’s centre. With exceptional architectural...

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 pri...

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 Ma...

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 influ...

Speak to alumni

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.

Get a first-hand perspective

Meet us

Meet the team

Get acquainted with the GVI Africa, Madagascar, Nosy Be family

Padraig O’Grady

Program Manager

Meet Padraig, also known as Pod, our Program Manager in Nosy Be, Madagascar. Pod is a passionate wildlife photographer and used to work professionally in the film and TV industr ...

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.

GVI is a proud member of the Gap Year Association.

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.

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.

Your Impact

All of our programs have short-, mid- and long-term objectives that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (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.

Prior to your arrival on base, you will be educated about the UN SDGs. Then once you arrive on base, you’ll learn about the specific goals we have in this particular location, our various objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these.

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

Madagascar is home to 5% of the world’s precious plant and animal species, with more than 70% being endemic to Madagascar. Lokobe National Park is the only remaining primary forest on the island. 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.

You will have the opportunity to get involved in vital project work such as behavioural surveys and habitat surveys. One of the focuses being the monitoring and protection of the endemic species that are heavily poached for pet trade. For example, the monitoring of populations and numbers of the panther chameleon, one of the most poached and heavily trafficked chameleon species in the world.

Critically endangered species

The area is home to one species of endangered lemur, the black lemur, as well as two species of critically endangered lemurs, the Nosy Be sportive lemur, known as the Hawks’ sportive lemur, and the Nosy Be mouse lemur, better known as the “Claire’s mouse lemur”. We track these animals and carry out behavioural surveys.

Biodiversity data

We carry out tracking and surveys of other animals in the park, including insects, amphibians and reptiles – during 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 assist local conservationists, governments and international organisations improve decision-making.

Preventing poaching and the illegal wildlife trade

Despite being categorised as “least concern” by the IUCN when evaluated against the Red List, the panther chameleon is a highly poached and trafficked species, and part of the illegal pet trade. We monitor panther chameleon numbers in the forests to keep track of the naturally occurring numbers in the forest to ensure that the population remains sustainable.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) the GVI Nosy Be research station contributes towards are Goal 13: Climate Action, Goal 14: Life Below Water, Goal 15: Life On Land and Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals.

Project objectives

 

GVI Nosy Be’s Long-term Objectives:

1. Monitoring and protection of critically endangered species.

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

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

01

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.

02

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

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

03

Impact Reporting

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

04

Working Against Dependency

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

05

Responsible Exit Strategies

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

06

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

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

07

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.

08

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.

09

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

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

10

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 b