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.

Testimonial

Taking part in this programme has been one of the best decisions I have made in my life, I had a fantastic experience and have found a career that I am determined to follow in. Every experience that I had was incredible. One of the best parts about being a volunteer for GVI is that I immediately felt a part of the team amongst both the staff and the other volunteers – we all worked together and helped each other out. The staff are incredibly knowledgeable and keen to share their ideas and experiences which meant I came away with a new mind set.
- Ida Jones (New Zealand)

Program Details

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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.

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 kit
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Visa costs

Exploration

Volunteering with GVI not only allows you to participate on programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers wonderful opportunities to travel in the local area in your down time or further afield either before or after your program. Many decide to travel after volunteering, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on the programme.

Our long term field staff are a great source of advice and are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI. Our field teams have helped us put together the following information on trips and travel options in South Africa and the Seychelles!

Optional Side Trips


 

Seychelles

Volunteers may have the opportunity to visit the islands of Praslin and La Digue. Praslin is home to the Vallee de Mai (a world heritage site) that is the home of the famous Coco de Mer palm tree that produces the huge double nut famous for its provocative shape. 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.

Public transport is cheap and frequent and all parts of Mahe can be explored easily by catching a bus. Many volunteers spend happy times bouncing around the island roads on buses taking in the beautiful scenery whilst enjoying the company of locals going about their daily business.

South Africa

Volunteers at base have one day off per week. For longer duration volunteers, at the end of each 4 week cycle, there may be the opportunity to take 3 or 4 consecutive days off. Independent travel from Karongwe is best done by renting a car, something volunteers usually do in groups to make more economical. Bear in mind there is an additional cost associated with pickups or drop-offs at the reserve gate. Hoedspruit, the nearest town is about 45 minutes’ drive away. In the area around Karongwe Game Reserve you can visit the Kruger National Park, with entry gates no more than an hour drive away. There’s also the ‘panoramic route’ which takes you on various scenic drives along the edge of the Drakensberg escarpment, the Blyde River Canyon and to the historic towns of Pilgrims Rest, Graskop (where Harry’s Pancakes will serve you the best pancake on the planet!) and Sabie, where you can also book onto a variety of adventure activities such as zip-lining, quad biking, canyoning and hiking, or just chill out with a picnic lunch at one of the many nearby waterfalls.

Further Travelling Opportunities


 

Seychelles

With 115 islands in the Seychelles group stretching over 800 miles, the possibilities of exploring this tropical paradise are endless. The inner-islands, situated closer to Mahe are easily accessible by fast ferry. Praslin, La Digue, Silhouette, Felicity and Sister, to name a few, all have their own unique charms with hotels and guest houses within most people’s price range.

The outer islands such as Desroche, Bird, Dennis, Farquar and the Amirantes group are harder to get to and can only be reached by small plane or charter yacht. Most have small exclusive resorts which can be extremely expensive, but the marine environment and bird life at these outposts of civilization have been barely marked by the hand of man, and as such are in a pristine condition rarely found anywhere in the world today.

South Africa

South Africa has such a wealth of fantastic opportunities for further travel. Possibilities include the spectacular Drakensberg Mountains, the beauty of the Kalahari Desert, historic Zululand, the vibrancy of Cape Town (check out GVI’s Cape Town volunteer programs!), the fantastic Garden Route along the Southern Coast, the world-renowned National Parks of Kruger and Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, and many more highlights that will leave you wanting more of this amazing country.

The Team

Hannah Smith

Science Coordinator
Meet Hannah, our dynamic Science Coordinator on Cap Ternay. Hannah completed her Masters degree in Ecosystem-based Management of Marine Systems, is a PADI Open Water Instructor, she enjoys rock and heavy metal music and used to be competitive at cross country running in the snow and cold of northern England.

While travelling Hannah always carries a pen knife or multi-tool, a well-stocked first aid kit (having been known to be quite accident prone) and an open mind!

She joined GVI as a volunteer in Fiji back in 2013. "I was impressed with the high quality training the volunteers received and that the data being collected was being used directly to educate local communities and contribute towards helping Locally Managed Marine Areas in Fiji."

Tom Colston

Science Officer
Meet Tom, an experienced GVI Science Officer. In addition to his degree in Marine Geography, Tom is also a qualified PADI Divemaster and has his off-shore skippers license.

With an obvious love for the ocean, he never travels anywhere without his surfboard and recommends it as the one travel must-have for everyone.

He spent 6 adventure-filled months travelling Europe in a converted van and prior to joining GVI he volunteered with MCSS.

Tom is especially proud to be a part of an organisation like GVI and the strong conservation work and research that we carry out worldwide.

Josie Woodgate

Science Officer
Meet Josie, or JosieJoJo, as her friends call her. She is our Science Officer in Cap Ternay and obtained a degree in Marine Geography and is an avid diver. She completed her Divemaster in Thailand during at three-month internship."I loved sharing species knowledge with my customers."

Josie is a well-travelled adventure seeker and first started out with GVI in Mexico on a six month internship. Her favourite hobby is hula hooping and she always takes her camera on any trip.

"I love working towards aiding and inspiring the local community in the management of their marine resources, combined with the dayto-day challenges that living on base has to throw at you. I love island life!"

Morgan Purdy

Science Officer
Meet Morgan, one of our awesome Science Officers here on Curieuse. She completed her degree in Marine Science and Ecology and is also PADI Open Water certified.

What first attracted Morgan to GVI? "I met a fellow volunteer while I was volunteering on the Eastern Pacific Leatherback Turtle and Eastern Pacific Green Sea Turtle project in Costa Rica, who had previously volunteered with GVI in the Seychelles. She said nothing but great things about her time with GVI and I knew that I had to experience it for myself."

"I love the fact that I am working for an organisation that is actually making a difference in the world, and that we can share it with others, increasing awareness and understanding. To me, GVI is making the world a better place."

Catherine Forsyth

Science Officer
Meet Catherine, our enthusiastic Science Officer on Curieuse. She completed her Masters degree in Marine Systems and Policies and joined GVI as she was looking to gain field experience, to compliment her degree. Cathereine started our as a 3 month intern on our island conservation expedition here on Curieuse.

Apart from her conservation experience, Catherine has also done voluntary work in Scotland with the Woodland Trust, TCV, Riding for the Disabled, and JAPES. While travelling in and around Seychelles she's learnt that mosquitoes tend to love her and she always makes sure she has a stash of Tiger Balm and Sudocrem.

"I love being part of an organisation with such a strong family feel and how every day is different and interesting."

Ahtee Labonte

Research Assistant
Meet Ahthee, our Research Assistant here on Curiuese Island. Ahtee has extensive knowledge and experience in conservation and he joined GVI to live out his passion and love for conserving our environment. He is always smiling and always happy to help and has a good eye for identifying research objects on the sea shore.

Ahtee especially loves conducting turtle and shark surveys on the island. He recommends that everyone should visit the South American countries at least once, after they've visited Seychelles first of course!

He is a valued member of our team and sees his job as fun, educational and the best thing of all is being immersed in nature doing outdoor activities.

Jim Clark

Base Manager
Meet Jim, our Base Manager in Cap Ternay (Mahe). Jim has several years of travel and volunteer experience behind his name. He has a BSc in Environmental Science and has been involved in various marine conservation research projects.

Jim was first attracted to GVI by our focus of making a difference. "Also GVI has a big push for the volunteers needs; to gain experience and certifications makes the whole idea of volunteering much better for all involved."

"My office is a stunning beach or being underwater! Working and living with people can be difficult, but they become your good friends and you are able to enjoy life in paradise together."

Rosabella Mangroo

Research Assistant
Meet Rosabella, our awesome research assistant. Rosabella is a Seychelles national and was a participant in our National Scholarship Program before she started working us. "I am thrilled to have an opportunity to discover the underwater world and contribute to monitoring of the reef which has both ecological and economical importance for my country."

She is taking a gap year from her Bsc. Environmental Science degree before she continues with her final year of studies. Her previous work experience has mainly been in the Human Resources field yet she never gave up on her dream of living to help the world's environment. Her favourite part of her job is diving and she especially enjoys doing wreck dives.

Bella recommends that you make a travel list before any trip to ensure that you have all the things you need and that your favourite things are present.

Dave Rowe

Dive Officer
Meet Dave, our knowledgeable dive officer in Seychelles. Dave has always had a passion for the ocean and when the opportunity came to volunteer in the Seychelles he jumped at it. Since then he kept up with everything GVI and Seychelles and now he's back on the island as a GVI staff member!

Apart from his diverse range of skills and knowledge he is also a member of Greenpeace International, Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and Oxfam International. Dave has also volunteered all over the world, from beach care to dive clean-ups and wildlife conservations programs in Australia, Europe and USA.

This well-travelled Aussie recommends that everyone should travel to a country where you don’t speak the language at least once and then you're left to do it alone and figure things out for yourself!

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

Peter Kowalski

Science Officer
Meet Peter, our Science Officer in Seychelles. Peter previously volunteered with GVI in Costa Rica and has extensive experience working with and researching green turtles in Canada, USA and Taiwan.

This well-travelled nature lover has also created a short nature documentary related to turtle conservation. He holds a Master of Science in Marine Biology and can speak a total of four languages!

"I was first attracted to GVI by the exciting research being conducted on Curieuse, as well as the chance to work for an organisation that aids and empowers local communities in the management of their marine resources."

Chris Mason-Parker

Country Director
Meet Chris, our Country Director for Seychelles. Chris first joined GVI back in 2009 as Field Staff on a Marine Conservation Expedition in Mexico before transferring to Seychelles a year later.

Chris says there have been numerous highlights to working for GVI, not least the opportunity to encounter some amazing creatures, including whale sharks, giant tortoises and nesting turtles. The most satisfaction though has been seeing the Seychelles programmes develop and diversify over the years. Today GVI Seychelles projects are conducting research and collecting critical data on numerous species within a variety of habitats; an achievement that would not be possible without the volunteers.

Chris’ favourite part of the job is its unpredictability from one day to the next. Whether it is meeting with project partners and government ministers, or standing knee deep in murky water attempting to catch a lemon shark, no two days are ever the same!

Andrea Ezeta Watts

Science Officer
Meet Andy, one of the Science Officers and also one of our newest staff members. Andy holds a degree in Biology and is a certified Dive Master and boat driver. Originally from Mexico city Andy worked in a Science communication office, where she was in charge of designing board games, writing TV scripts and collaborating in a radio program.

Lucky for us, Andy got fed up with her life in the city and started looking for a way to develop her biology skills in the field. She came across GVI and volunteered as one of our National Scholarship participants. Having impressed everyone by the end of the programme, Andy was offered a temporary staff position on our turtle monitoring programme and is now the newest edition to our growing team in Mexico and now is working for us in the Seychelles.

Andy is also a professional fencer! She has travelled the world competing in international tournaments and was one of the best fencers in Mexico before she retired. So if you fancy testing your fencing skills while visiting our projects, don't forget to challenge her to a friendly dual!

Alan Grant

Base Manager
Alan joined GVI as the Curieuse Island Terrestrial Conservation Project Science Officer in April 2014. Since completing his degree in Aquatic Bioscience at Glasgow University in Scotland he has spent several years living and working in field stations in a variety of science, management and technical roles in Scotland, the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Islands. He has always had a passion for tropical island field projects, so following a five year spell as a Park Ranger back home the Curieuse base was an excellent step to take.

Alan loves the challenge of island life, and the more remote the better. When not out in the field he can commonly be found up a ladder, in a water tank or somewhere in the workshop! He also gets a lot of satisfaction out of getting to know the constant stream of new volunteers and sharing his fascination with them of all that Curieuse has to offer, on camp, on the terrestrial surveys, and in and on the water.

 

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