A Leap Into the Wilderness

Volunteer in Madagascar

Explore the heritage and habitat of one of our remotest – and rarests – islands.

Known to some as the 8th continent, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot located near Africa’s southeastern coast. Absorb this utterly unique world and develop critical conservation skills while learning about and living among some of the rarest animals on earth.

Critical science

Critical science

You'll contribute to vital conservation research targeted at protecting the earth's most valuable ecosystems.
Ethical engagement

Ethical engagement

Using the UN's SDGs as a framework, we've made a commitment to positive, constructive and sustainable impact.
Beautiful adventures

Beautiful adventures

You'll spend your days exploring some of the world's most breathtaking, exhilarating and remote wildernesses.

Madagascar volunteer projects

Overview
Location
Programs
FAQs

Madagascar is an island country in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa across the Mozambique Channel. The main Malagasy island is the world’s fourth largest island – stretching more than 1,600 kilometres from the northern to southern tip – and is surrounded by peripheral islands. 

Madagascar has been geographically isolated for 88 million years – making it one of the world’s largest biodiversity hotspots. The plant and animal species found  here are found nowhere else on Earth, and as a result they are both utterly unique and vulnerable.

Conservation efforts here are fragile, but imperative.  

As a wildlife conservation volunteer in Madagascar, you will be based on our new hub on Nosy Be island. 

Our wildlife conservation programs in Madagascar are focused on data collection of local reptile, bird and mammal species, including: 

  • black lemurs
  • Hawks’ sportive lemurs
  • panther chameleons
  • dwarf chameleons
  • green turtles
  • hawksbill turtles.

 

Our local wildlife conservation partners in Madagascar are:

  • Madagascar National Parks 
  • Lemur Conservation Network 
  • Ampasipohy Lokobe – the locally managed protected conservation area 

Volunteer in Madagascar – Nosy Be island 

Nosy Be, pronounced NOSSY-BAY, is a volcanic island, off Madagascar’s northwestern coast. We are based on the island’s southeastern coast, in Lokobe, one of Madagascar’s national parks. This park holds many species that are not found anywhere else in the world, such as the Hawks’ Sportive lemur and dwarf frogs and chameleons. Containing both marine and terrestrial areas, it is host to an amazing diversity of species across a huge range of ecosystems. 

Although the volcano has not erupted in recorded history, it is not considered extinct. The island has an estimated population of around 115,000 people, with the Sakalava people making up the majority of Malagasy residents and Sakalva Malagasy being the main dialect spoken on the island. 

When you’re not volunteering on wildlife conservation projects or on base, the island offers a wide variety of adventures:

  • Spot the lemur: Lokobe park’s most common sighting is the black lemur, and it is very common to be hiking through the park and see a dozen or so lemurs passing through or relaxing in the trees above.
  • Hike: Trek to the highest peak of Lokobe National Park for some of the most spectacular ocean and island views in the world. 
  • Eat and drink: Nosy Be’s capital, Hell-Ville, is full of many bars, restaurants, hotels, and markets where volunteers can enjoy a drink and a meal. 
  • Cook: Learn to cook in Marodoka Village, where members of the local women’s group host cooking classes focussed on traditional – and delicious – Malagasy dishes.  
  • Forage: Head into the forests of Madagascar with a professional guide on a journey through the island’s traditional plant and herbal medicines.
  • Snorkel and swim: Hop over the neighbouring island of Nosy Tanikely and spend the day diving in the coral wonderlands of Madagascar’s marine protected area. 

 

Volunteer in Madagascar – the GVI hub

Our newly completed basecamp is built from sustainably and ethically sourced local materials, and is fully solar powered.  It is a truly remarkable place to live. The forest surrounding the hub is home to Hawks’ sportive lemur, which can only be found here. There are only an estimated 100-200 individuals alive in the wild. We are very proud to be contributing to the conservation of this vital species refuge. 

Wildlife Conservation – volunteer in Madagascar 

Our wildlife conservation work in Madagascar includes data collection and analysis of indigenous reptile, bird and mammal species. We are specifically focussed on lemurs and chameleons. 

Volunteer with lemurs in Madagascar

Working with the Lemur Conservation Network and the University of Oxford Brookes, our lemur volunteer programs in Madagascar are focused on: 

  • Species surveys: Lokobe has not been fully surveyed since 1993. Over the past 30 years, like all other forest systems, Lokobe has been vulnerable to illegal logging, bushmeat trapping and human settlement encroachment.
  • Density studies: The Hawks’ sportive lemur, which is endemic to Lokobe, has never had a wide-scale population/density study undertaken since it was described as its own species. We will attempt to undertake a population assessment of this species throughout Lokobe and the adjacent locally managed conservation area with the aim of quantifying the population of this endemic species. The same process, but undertaken at night, will hopefully be utilised to assess the density of the mouse lemurs.

 

Chameleon conservation in Madagascar

We are also running a wildlife conservation program focussed on the panther chameleon, which is an endangered species. The colour variant found on Nosy Be island (the Nosy Be panther chameleon) is threatened by illegal poaching. Similar to our lemur project, the primary aim of the project is to establish and monitor current  population levels to determine species health, which will inform necessary conservation strategies. 

Community development volunteering in Madagascar 

We also work on several community development projects in various communities on Nosy Be. These projects are focused on:

  • teaching English
  • women’s empowerment

Who can volunteer in Madagascar? 

Anyone can! 

Whether you’re thinking of a gap year abroad, or want to contribute to conservation work while studying, looking for a career-making summer internship, or simply keen to take a career break and give back, our wildlife conservation volunteer programs in Madagascar are right for you! 

For more information, enquire or apply

Who qualifies as a volunteer in Madagascar? 

Our Madagascar wildlife conservation volunteer programs require that you be 18 years or older, but we do offer teen volunteer programs for 15 – 17 year olds in other amazing locations around the world! 

Is it safe?

Extremely safe. We take every precaution to make sure our participants can live and work safely, no matter where they are in the world. We have trained support staff on hand 24 hours a day to ensure that all participants across all our programs are well taken care of.

Read more about our health and safety protocols

You can speak directly to one of our enrolment officers or alumni, who can answer any and all questions you might have about life in Madagascar. 

Is volunteering in Madagascar ethical?

Across all our work, our actions are guided by local organisations with roots in the community. Our conservation work is monitored according to robust impact, sustainability and ethical standards. 

We have a strict animal handling and ethical conservation policy

Additionally, all GVI programs and staff are governed by our ten ethical principles and five human empowerment principles. Our badge of ethics reflects our pledge to continuously reflect on and improve our policies and practices. 

GVI is a British Standards 8848 compliant provider.

Who will I work with?

You will work alongside GVI volunteers of all ages, from all over the world. This is an opportunity to meet people from a range of backgrounds. Our international team of GVI staff will be at every location to guide volunteers throughout their time on our programs. 

I want to volunteer in Madagascar! What are the next steps? 

We’d love to have you! You can enquire or apply here. 

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New and Exclusive: GVI Experiences

A locally curated selection of extra activities are now included across our programs.

Learn to cook Malagasy cuisine

Handcraft your own canoes

Forage for local medicinal plants

Visit the island of the lemurs

Snorkel in a marine wonderland

Gaze and wonder at the southern constellations

Watch the sunset at Banyan tree

Sleepover on a remote volcanic archipelago