Jun 4

Summer is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere and members of the Arkive Team can often be caught daydreaming at our desks about lemurs in Madagascar or giant tortoise in the Galapagos. This got us wondering what volunteer field opportunities might be out there for quenching both our wanderlust and interest in supporting conservation.

Below is a list of incredible chances to get up close and personal with species and the researchers that have dedicated their lives to them. Talk about a once in a lifetime experience! Which of these are your favorite?

Cheetah Conservation/Administrative (Namibia)

juvenile-cheetah-head-portrait

Juvenile cheetah

We originally mentioned this amazing opportunity with the Cheetah Conservation Fund in the story that kicked off our Arkive’s Conservation Heroes Series. Volunteers are needed to assist with data entry and other office related tasks but they will also help with chopping up meat for feeding the cheetah along with collecting and cataloging scat samples – joy!

Deer Herbivory Study (Seattle, Washington)

Odocoileus-virginianus-clavium-doe

White-tailed deer doe

Wolves are recolonizing northeast Washington state in America and scientists at the University of Washington can use some help discovering how the reintroduction of this species is affecting white-tailed deer grazing. Volunteers joining this study (available in two week increments) may have the opportunity to practice radio telemetry, install trail cameras, review camera footage and more. Talk about a serious resume-booster!

Fairywren Personality Study (Melbourne, Australia)

The white-winged fairy-wren is a close relative of the superb fairy-wren that is part of this study

Calling all bird fans! Volunteers are needed to help the University of Melbourne monitor a color-banded population of superb fairywrens to study their personalities. They will also census the birds as well as search and monitor their nests – amazing. We’re checking our passports for the minimum 6 blank pages as we speak!

Biological program – Habitat Restoration (Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge)

Laysan duck vocalizing

This opportunity has it all: habitat restoration, invasive species removal, bird nest monitoring, and all in a ridiculously beautiful island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Volunteers will join the United States Fish and Wildlife Service with native plant propagation and even helping to remove ocean debris before it pollutes the health of the local animals and environment.  Overall, a total win-win!

Galapagos Turtle Center – Conservation (Galapagos Islands)

Volcan-Alcedo-tortoise-in-habitat

Volcan Alcedo tortoise in habitat

You had us at Galapagos! Volunteers with the Intercultural Outreach Initiative Galapagos will feed and care for tortoises, maintain their enclosures, and measure their shells for growth charts. They will also educate tourists about tortoises and inform them of rules and regulations. Where do we sign up?!

Giraffe and Wildlife Conservation Project (Nairobi, Kenya)

Male-southern-giraffe-drinking-at-waterhole

Male southern giraffe drinking at waterhole

This project has really piqued our interest, not just because it involves working with the amazing species and habitats of Kenya, but because part of the experience involves tracking large mammals alongside young Masai Mara. If you are interested in the intersection of conservation and culture, this is for you! Volunteers with Life Net Nature assist with new studies of Masai giraffe nursery groups and help monitor wildlife. The volunteer dates are scheduled at peak wildebeest migration period – as if we needed any more reason to join!

Monitor Endangered Lemurs (Madagascar)

Black-and-white ruffed lemur resting, close up of head

For all lovers of lemurs, have we got a treat for you. Join the Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium to help gather information on lemur habitat usage, population dynamics, and territorial range, all of which will aid in conservation of these endangered species. Imagine walking the forests of Madagascar with researches tracking and observing radio-collared lemurs. Yep, we’re in!

Gadoli and Manda Khal Fee Simple Estates – Habitat restoration (Uttarakhand, India) 

The forests of the Gadoli and Manda Khal Fee Simple Estates are prime habitat for leopards

Previously highlighted in our Arkive’s Conservation Heroes series, volunteers would assist with The Gadoli and Manda Khal Wildlife Conservation Trust with restoration and reforestation of degraded forest within the estates. They would also help with surveys of the flora and fauna of the area and work with local school children to share the importance of this special place.

To learn more contact Subir Chowfin: thcmchowfin@yahoo.com

Note that, while the Arkive Team is sharing these opportunities with you, we are not responsible or liable for the integrity or safety of the programs or the entities that have organized them. We just think these are pretty amazing opportunities and strive to help spread the word of species and the organizations dedicated to helping them to survive. If you like this feature, let us know in the comments and we’ll bring you more!

 

 William Lazaro, Arkive Social Media Intern, Wildscreen USA 

Feb 26

We’re thrilled to kick off our first Arkive’s Conservation Heroes series with the incredible Dr. Laurie Marker, a woman who founded the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia, Africa dedicated to restoring the wild cheetah. In this interview, Dr. Marker shares why she started a nonprofit, an average day-in-the-life at CCF, and her one dream for cheetahs. What is it? You’ll have to read on to find out! Dr  Laurie Marker and CCF Resident Cheetahs Finally, Dr. Marker and CCF have offered loads of ways that you can support the conservation of cheetahs right this very minute. If Dr. Marker’s story inspires you (or you just love big cats!), please click on the “Wish List” link here at the end of the interview and pledge to take one conservation action to support Cheetah Conservation Fund. Together, we can rally around the world to support conservation!wish list button

So, after working with cheetahs since 1974, you finally moved from the US to Namibia in 1990 to develop the CCF base. What was it that inspired you to save cheetahs over any other species?

When I started working with cheetahs in 1974, nobody knew anything about them and they weren’t breeding well anywhere. There weren’t many cheetahs in captivity and people were taking them out of the wild; wild numbers were declining. Questions I had helped us understand not only how special the animal was but also understand the basic biology, the genetic makeup, and the population of each individual. I’m still fascinated by cheetahs and trying to find out more each day about how we can save them.

Cheetah photo

A curious juvenile cheetah

Everyone knows that the cheetah is the fastest land mammal on the planet, can you tell us any other interesting facts?

Well, cheetahs are very wonderful in the way they run; every part of their body is built for speed. Their semi non-retractable claws are very usable as cleats for traction running. Moreover, they are very aerodynamic with their small head and enlarged arteries, lungs, and heart. They’ve got a very flexible backbone and, as they run and hunt, only one paw touches the ground at any point in their stride, but there’s two points in the stride when no paws touch the ground. They just keep going and their tail is like a rudder for balance to stabilize and go around sharp curves rapidly so they don’t roll over and spin out.

Cheetah mid-sprint

Your recent call to arms was extremely inspiring, how does CCF intend to ‘save the cheetah from extinction’?

I would say the next step is get more and more people engaged and actually scale up the programs that are already successful. There are only 10,000 cheetahs left in the world so our strategies rely on maintaining them in Namibia which has the largest remaining population. We need to provide economic alternatives to the farming communities, so that they find the cheetah as an economic friend to them versus a loss of their livestock. We’ve created a program that I call “Future Farmers of Africa” where in Namibia, we have integrated programs of wildlife, livestock and grazing lands throughout most of the areas where cheetahs are found. So there is a political landscape of trying to help guide policies in these rural African communities, helping support capacity building and training more and more not only good farmers, but good conservation scientists in Africa as well. Raising awareness in our western world where people sometimes have the disposable incomes that Africa does not have, and helping them realize that potentially their assistance is going to actually gain them a lot by helping get Africa out of poverty and saving the cheetah at the same time, is a focus as well.

Dr. Marker working on cheetah in field

Dr. Marker working on cheetah in field (Photo courtesy of CCF)

 What has been your best moment since starting the Cheetah Conservation Fund?

Probably one of the highlights right now is the fact that our organization that I started 25 years ago is a quarter of a century old at this point. We have doubled the Namibian cheetah population and I’ve got programs going throughout most of the cheetah range countries. Conservation scientists are aware, the governments are aware. So a good moment only means I have more to do to have another good moment, because that good moment really lasts about a second.

 What is an average day for you at the CCF base in Namibia?

We’ve got a lot of animals since we have a sanctuary so there are orphan cats that need to be cared for every day and we have a lot of school children that come in regularly. We have livestock guarding dogs and goats which are breeding; they need a lot of care. Farmers might also call you up and need a lot of help that could take a whole day or more than a day then your whole day changes. We’ve got a wilding program going on which asks where is the cheetah today. You’re tracking it and maybe they’ve killed a kudu so we say let’s go find its kill and track down what the habitat looks like. At a community level, probably spending your time getting ready to go into a community so that you’re prepared with the kinds of paperwork they need or slide presentation. You make sure that your pictures and the story you’re telling is something they can fully relate to when it comes to livestock care. So I would say that there’s international communications that go on on a regular basis and you know we’re a hopping crowd so I’ve got a very good staff of professional biologists, ecologists, veterinarians and geneticists all working about 100 miles an hour.

CCF Facilities

The Cheetah Conservation Fund Centre in Namibia, Africa (Photo courtesy of CCF)

Your story is extremely inspirational and encouraging for aspiring conservationists. Do you any advice to someone that would like to start their own charity or conservation project?

I ask myself why did I start a charity to begin with? I think that joining partnerships with organizations that are doing conservation work is really important. Sometimes you just need to jump off the deep end if you have an idea and know that potentially you might fall, but you can pick yourself back up and figure out what it is you’re going to do. Running a conservation organization deals with a business. It’s running a business from a perspective of getting funding and utilizing that donor’s funding properly so that you can show the results from that donation. My one dream is to see the cheetah living on earth for future generations and that’s going to take everybody cracking down and changing the way that they live and think. So there’s a whole behavior change around the entire world that has to be encouraged and our motto for the next 25 years is “Change the World to Save the Cheetah”.

Suzi Ezsterhas

Dr. Marker feeding a cheetah (Photo courtesy of Suzi Ezsterhas)

How can the general public help your organization and cheetahs as species?

I would say go to our website, give us a call, send an email, but we actively encourage people to take an active role in doing something and we need funding to be able to do the work that we need to do. Adopt one of our orphan cheetahs, sponsor one of our livestock guarding dogs so that we can keep doing more. We’ve got programs that are successful and we need the funding to scale them up and we need people to be aware of the fact that the cheetah is Africa’s most endangered big cat. We need to hold on to what we have and try to grow those populations.

From reading about Heroes to becoming one yourself

Inspired to take action to support Dr. Marker and the cheetahs of Africa? Please click on the button below to make a pledge today to take conservation action – actions that range from sharing Dr. Marker’s story socially to help spread the word further, to donating or even planning to volunteer time with Dr. Marker at the CCF centre in Namibia! Every action matters, please consider making a pledge today! 

Take Action

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