1. Sumatran tigers, Sumatra, Indonesia
This holiday focuses on the Sumatran tiger. Volunteers are based in the Rimbang Baling Wildlife Reserve where they explore, set camera-traps, and look for tracks, kills, scats and the animals themselves. You work with local people to create incentives for tiger conservation in an effort to mitigate human–wildlife conflict and ensure the survival of this amazing big cat.
Conservation value Well-managed areas with effective tiger patrols where local communities benefit from the presence of tigers.
Find out more at www.biosphere-expeditions.org
2. Reef surveys and community, Madagascar
Based in Andavadoaka, south-west Madagascar, this marine project integrates scientific research with support for coastal communities with sea-cucumber and seaweed-farming initiatives; environmental education for local children; and reproductive health services for adults. Volunteers dive five days a week on the Indian Ocean’s most extensive coral reefs recording fish and benthic transect data, and surveying new reef sites. There is an intensive two-week scientific-training programme and PADI training if necessary.
Conservation value Protecting biodiversity and benefiting coastal people so that they become conservation champions.
Find out more at http://blueventures.org/expeditions/madagascar
3. Jaguar conservation, Costa Rica
This project is based in the Tortuguero National Park, surrounded by protected rainforest and the Caribbean Sea. Volunteers search for signs of jaguars and their prey species, monitor feeding behaviour and population numbers, use remote cameras to identify individuals and plot their range. Surveys are also made of the 26km turtle nesting beach, because jaguars regularly hunt here. This creates a dilemma for naturalists at Tortuguero because jaguars have learnt to prey on the endangered green turtle.
Conservation value Data is used by the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment to develop conservation policies.
Find out more at www.gvi.co.uk/programs/jaguar-conservation-costa-rica
4. Tracking dolphins, Adriatic Sea, Slovenia
Each morning volunteers split into two groups – one heads out on the boat and the other staffs an observation point on land. Both teams observe dolphins and in the afternoon trade stations. You get to scan the sea for dolphins and document numbers, GPS location, size and behaviour (such as feeding or travelling). Environmental data is gathered at sea, and dolphins are photographed and identified from dorsal-fin markings.
Conservation value Making the Adriatic Sea safer for the recently discovered resident dolphin population.
Find out more at Earthwatch Institute.
5. Helping British wildlife, UK
You don’t have to travel overseas to carry out fieldwork that makes a real difference to wildlife – just sign up for a conservation holiday in the UK. Discover evidence of animals in the wild, spot their tracks, and identify physical evidence such as scratch marks and scats. Learn remote-camera and live-trapping techniques, and how to handle small mammals safely. Find out how conservationists work and study reptiles, mammals, birds, bugs and marine life with top UK conservation organisations.
Conservation value Helping people get in touch with nature and investigate issues related to sustainability as well as the UK’s sadly diminishing biodiversity.
Find out more at http://wilddaysconservation.org
6. Loggerhead turtle protection, Cape Verde
Primarily based on the island of Sal, SOS Tartarugas is a small NGO dedicated to the hands-on protection of nesting loggerhead turtles, which works with the Cape Verdean government. In partnership with rangers, volunteers patrol and clear beaches of hazardous debris; guard turtles while they nest; remove vulnerable eggs to a hatchery; map nesting sites; and assist with guided walks and local education programmes. They also get involved in the release of illegally captured turtles and young hatchlings.
Conservation value The work of the project has dramatically reduced loggerhead turtles’ illegal slaughter and capture, and enabled thousands of vulnerable eggs to hatch safely.
Find out more at www.sostartarugas.org/SOSTartarugas
7. Big cat care and rehabilitation, Bolivia
The three Inti Wara Yassi parks care for over 430 species, but with an emphasis on wild felines. The parks were primarily set up to house and rehabilitate animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, most of which are in poor health. This is a hands-on care project for animals saved from abuse or death. Sadly the majority cannot be returned to the wild, because the habitats needed by larger species are constantly shrinking.
Conservation value Conserving native biodiversity.
Find out more at www.intiwarayassi.org
8. Awesome ospreys, Scotland
Operation Osprey is a project based at RSPB Loch Garten, Abernethy, involving 24-hour surveillance of breeding ospreys. Project volunteers work in pairs on shifts, including a night shift in a hide from 10pm to 8am while eggs are being hatched. They also help with visitors in the information centre, updating them with information on the ospreys, answering questions and encouraging people to support the work of the RSPB. Food and lodging are provided, and out-of-pocket expenses may be paid.
Conservation value Eggs, chicks and adult ospreys are protected from theft and disturbance, enabling species numbers to recover.
Find out more at the RSPB.