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PERU

CONSERVATION INTERNSHIP IN THE AMAZON RAINFOREST IN PERU

Are you looking to start a career in conservation research? Are you passionate about sustainability and helping to protect the rainforest?

This 6-month internship programme is designed to help students and graduates develop specific career skills in conservation research, community development, and non-profit project management, in the heart of the Amazon!

Begin your programme in the Inca city of Cusco where you'll receive an induction and orientation before travelling through the High Andes to the Acjance Park Guard Station and the Cloud Forest. Then you descend into the Amazon via motorised canoe down the Madre de Dios River. The journey to the Project is spectacular, an adventure in itself!

SUMMARY: THE BASICS

Price: £6,050 (approx. US$7,500) for 6 months
Excludes flights. Please see Full Price List & Other Currencies
This Project is extremely popular and limited in the number of interns it can accept, so we strongly advise that you book early.
Duration: 6 months, subject to visa requirements
Start Dates: See under "Work Description"
Requirements: Minimum age 18. No qualifications needed, just lots of enthusiasm for nature. You should be physically fit and easily walk 10km carrying a 10kg pack within 3 hours on uneven and muddy terrain in humid conditions.
What's Included:: Arranging your Programme
24 hour in-country support, airport collection and drop-off in Cusco, Peru Accommodation in Cusco, the cloud forest, and the Learning Centre.
3 hearty meals a day
All transport between Cusco and the rainforest, and to project work within the rainforest First Aid and CPR training and certification in remote rainforest environment
Training and participation in all projects you will be involved in
Mentoring sessions to keep you on track with your objectives
10 week course, plus certificate
5 days of one-on-one Spanish immersion course and 7 night family homestay in Cusco
The chance to work at a tropical research centre alongside experienced research staff
What's not included: Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas (if a visa is required).
Who can do this Project? All projects are open to all nationalities.

WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM DOING THIS PROJECT:

  • An exciting opportunity to travel, see the world and experience a foreign culture first-hand.
  • New skills, more confidence and invaluable personal and professional development.
  • The enormous satisfaction of knowing that your work is contributing to wildlife conservation.
  • An opportunity to take a break from the traditional academic track or your current career path in order to gain life experience and global cultural awareness
  • An entry on your CV or Résumé that will enhance your career opportunities and make you stand out from the crowd.
  • Make friends, form relationships and build memories that will last a lifetime.
  • Opportunities to enjoy some exciting adventure and cultural activities while on your programme.
  • And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!
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WORK CONTENT AND DESCRIPTION

You'll intern in a leading research and experiential learning organisation in the Manu Biosphere Reserve. We offer structured learning through our programmes which is delivered at a higher level in the internship through one-on-one mentoring and frequent training workshops.

The internship goes beyond teaching skills required to plan and lead ecological studies; we focus also on the professional and personal skills sought by employers which makes our interns very employable by the end of their internship. We hope to ensure that as an intern you have a truly inspirational experience where you are able to contribute to sustainable, well-structured and meaningful projects.

Our Internship programme creates jobs for local people, rather than replacing them. It is hoped that interns gain as much as they give and come away fully understanding the goals of the projects and how they contribute. We ensure each intern’s experience is thought-provoking and will challenge their own viewpoints and perspectives, as well as providing a deeper understanding of local realities and cultures.

24 week Itinerary

Day 1 Cusco - Airport collection and Acclimatisation
Day 2 Cusco - Registration & Orientation
Day 3 Travel Cusco to the cloud forest, overnight in the cloud forest
Day 4 Arrive at the MLC
Day 5 Conservation research training
Day 6 Community Project training & Welcome Party
Day 7 Day off
Day 8 Emergency First Response (first aid) course
Day 9 Conservation research programme Training
Day 10–67 Training Phase Project Work
Day 68 Travel to Cusco
Day 69–70 Homestay with Cusco family
Day 71–75 Homestay with Cusco family & 5 days Spanish school
Day 76–84 Free week off (note you will have to arrange your accommodation for this week)
Day 85–86 Work in Cusco Office
Day 87 Travel to Cloud Forest
Day 88 Arrive at MLC
Day 89–171 Work Placement
Day 172 Travel to Cusco
Day 173 Sign out
*Schedule subject to small changes

Daily life in the rainforest

In the rainforest the day starts and ends earlier than normal to make the most of available daylight. You’ll adapt to your new rhythm in the rainforest within your first week. Some of our projects run on different timetables but generally you’ll find yourself in bed early, ready to get up either before or just after dawn.

The projects you will undertake combine a mixture of mental and physical challenges, one day you might find yourself carrying 10 kg of batteries and SD cards to check camera traps throughout the forest, and the next day you could be helping to set up butterfly traps. The work we do here at the Manu Learning Centre is very physically demanding. There are long days in the forest with high temperatures and humidity and difficult walking conditions. We therefore ask that you are able to easily walk 10km carrying a 10kg pack within 4 hours before you come here. If you’re enthusiastic, hands on and keen then you’ll have a great time pushing yourself with these challenges! Our friendly, experienced staff will always be on hand to help and guide, so please don’t be afraid to ask.

Below is an example of a typical day, which will vary based on which projects you’re scheduled on:

5:30am Up early to visit the clay lick, and monitor the blue headed macaws
7am Breakfast
7:30am Trek into the forest to checkbutterfly traps
12:30pm Lunch
1-3pm Rest
3-5pm Work in the MLC biogarden
5pm Spanglish lessons whilst helping with dinner in the kitchen
6:30pm Dinner
7:15pm Night transect for amphibians
10:30pm Return to lodge with amphibian bounty. Shower, hot chocolate then bed! (Note there would be no early start the following day due to the late night)

Training Phase

During your 10 week training phase you will develop and learn vital skills whilst covering every aspect of the Center's work in the Amazon. We emphasize the integrated nature of conservation, providing a solid foundation in environmental science as well as the economic and social contexts of our sustainable community programmes.

During this phase you will receive Emergency First Response (EFR) certification from qualified instructors, develop tropical field skills, learn survey methods, lead survey groups to collect quality scientific data and learn about wider conservation, biodiversity and cultural issues; all while making a positive contribution to our work and aims. Staff will mentor, guide and assess your progress throughout the placement, helping you pass the initial phase of the programme and become eligible to move on to the work placement.

Due to the challenging nature of the internship, only participants who are able to meet the expected standard will advance to the work placement phase of the programme. The standards and specific objectives that interns must achieve are explicitly defined in mentor reviews and evaluations, and will cover: health and safety, acquisition of knowledge and skills, logistics management, organisation, communication, interpersonal and teamwork skills, leadership, initiative, problem solving, and professionalism. Please note that the full programme fee is non-refundable even for participants who do not advance to the work placement; however they will be able to stay on as a volunteer.

Cusco Phase

After completing your 10 week training phase you will have a 2 week break in the Inca capital of Peru, Cusco. For the first week you will participate in a 5 day Spanish immersion course and 7 night homestay; even if you have no background with Spanish this will be an excellent opportunity for you to improve your language skills in one of the most beautiful and culturally unique cities in South America.

The second week away from the rainforest has no set itinerary and is considered a self-funded, open week for you to have to yourself, visit nearby sights such as Machu Picchu or meet up with friends. As this week is not part of the programme so you must plan your own itinerary/ accommodation and budget accordingly, although we are happy to provide suggestions if you wish.

Work Placement Phase

Providing you successfully complete the volunteer stage, you will be allocated a 12 week work placement depending on your abilities and what is required in the field at that time. This decision will be made by our field team out in Manu and we will do our best to meet your preferences, however due to the changing nature of the rainforest and the needs of our research team, this may not always be possible and so we ask for your flexibility. Normally interns take over one of our long term projects or are given a new project that addresses the goals and needs of our research.

Whilst you will be allocated a specific project to manage, you will also be involved in running and assisting other projects as well. Your project may be based around environmental sciences, agricultural practices, zoology, animal behaviour, ecology and conservation biology; depending both on local needs and your own interests.

Field Conditions

The information that follows is as accurate as possible, but please keep in mind that the rainforest is an unpredictable place. There are two distinct seasons in Manu: wet, between December and April, and dry, between May and November. Approximately 1,200 millimetres (67 inches) of rain fall during the wet season, during which there is typically heavy rain most days.

Forest surveys are cancelled during heavy rain but there is always something to work on. Daytime temperatures are high throughout the year, but are more extreme during the dry season. During the dry season temperatures can reach 40°C during the day. Cold fronts may occur for two days to a week during the dry season months, especially from May to July; temperatures during these fronts may feel very cold at night.

IMPORTANT – Please be aware that choosing a programme during wet season might mean programme activities and staffing may vary; contact us for more information.

Requirements

Trekking through the jungle is hard work. You will encounter many diverse challenges during your time with us and for this reason we have some basic requirements for our interns. All interns must be able to:

  • Independently follow verbal and visual instructions.
  • Traverse over uneven and muddy terrain on a daily basis. You may be required to walk up to 10 km (6.2 miles) a day for survey work, carrying a heavy pack in a hot, humid environment.
  • Enjoy being outdoors all day in all types of weather, often exposed to intense heat or highly variable weather conditions, which may include sudden tropical storms. Enjoy being outdoors in the potential presence of wild and possibly dangerous animals, snakes, and insects.
  • Get in and out of a small boat and ride seated while wearing a personal flotation device.
  • Carry personal daily supplies such as lunch, water, insect repellent, sunblock, camera, and some field equipment (butterfly traps, etc.). Some assistance will also be needed in getting supplies from the boat or van, however, heavy lifting is not required of those who cannot manage it.
  • Get low enough to access and collect samples on the ground and in the brush, and to check or set up camera or live collection traps.

Please note that Spanish language is not a requirement for the internship however future interns are encouraged to take some classes beforehand to understand the basics, as this will allow you to get more out of your experience. A great emphasis is placed on interns to learn and practice Spanish during their internship to at least a basic to intermediate level.

START DATES:

2017
01 May 2017
01 May 2017
01 May 2017
26 June 2017
21 August 2017
16 October 2017
11 December 2017
2018
08 January 2018
05 March 2018
30 April 2018
25 June 2018
20 August 2018
15 October 2018
12 December 2018

ACCOMMODATION

This project is idyllically placed on the edge of the Amazon Rainforest, on a hill next to a river. It has a ’nice’ feel to it. It is relaxed and peaceful, and has been tastefully constructed in keeping with its surroundings. At present the area has six thatched buildings. Three are accommodation houses with a classroom/workroom on the ground floor and a bedroom area above and you'll be sharing a room with other volunteers. All buildings have open walls and are fresh and airy.

The bathroom is a separate block consisting of six cubicles, each containing a (Western) flush toilet, hand-basin and cold shower. There are also extra washbasins and a large sink in which to do your laundry.

There is a dining and relaxation area, with tables and a few armchairs, as well as a library and covered hammock area.

Lighting is by candle (not allowed in bedroom areas) and there is generally no electricity on the site. There is, however, a generator which is run for a few hours every night in order to charge camera batteries etc. We recommended that you take out a portable headlight torch and a few other items, but we'll provide you with a list of recommended items to take with you before you leave.

FOOD:
Food is provided and you'll have three meals per day - breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is wholesome and mainly vegetarian. Often pasta or rice, soup, fruit juice. Not 5 star (it’s the jungle after all) but very acceptable. There is always a flask of hot water, tea, coffee and filtered (safe) drinking water available in the dining room. The cook is able to cater for a number of specialised diets, although choices may be limited.

Entertainment / Leisure:
This is the Amazon Jungle - unique and exciting and wonderful and tranquil and awesome - but it isn't a placement for people who want to party the night away. There are board games, books to read and other ‘quiet’ activities. At night this has to be by candle light. Most people start their work early and get up between 4 and 5 a.m., consequently people tend to go to bed early.

"Some nights we watched a DVD on the laptop, (somewhat surreal, sitting in a jungle clearing watching a laptop crawling with moths!) Occasionally we just sat and socialised over a beer."

During the day there are activities such as swimming in the river, complete with vines to swing from ("Hello Tarzan!"). (You can only swim if supervised and depending on river conditions.) The manager is a keen climber and may be persuaded to teach you how to access the canopy, (climbing trees using ropes). Some scientists use this method in their work when studying birds. It is safe (when under instruction) but can be difficult.

Although there are lots of places to visit in Peru, there are few external places to visit while on your project. In the dry season Salvaccion is a 1¾ hour walk away (after crossing the river) and it is a safe walk. In the wet season it may be possible to reach another village by boat, but it would not possible to walk to Salvaccion. Sometimes it may be possible to get a lift with other volunteers or staff and perhaps spend a few days in Cusco. Generally, however, volunteers tend to stay at the Centre for the duration of their placement and visit Cusco at the end of their project.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

YOUR SAFETY, SUPPORT AND BACKUP:
Read important information about the Support & Backup you receive before you leave and during your programme.

Read about the Safety and Security measures we take to ensure your safety and wellbeing while on our programme.

THE CENTRE AND ITS ENVIRONMENT:
The Centre itself covers 640 hectares in a seemingly endless rainforest which stretches across Brazil and to the Atlantic Ocean. This is the Amazon! Mammals in the area include peccaries, puma, jaguar, armadillos and various monkeys. Tortoises and lizards are also present.

Currently 365 species of birds have been recorded in the area, including parrots, hummingbirds and the rather bizarre Hoatzin. The resident bird expert, Claudia, is very enthusiastic about birds and her knowledge is truly exceptional. As one of our people said, "Working with her is a privilege!" Like any jungle there are lots of insects and there are also tarantulas and snakes, but these are not frequently seen.

There are many trails in the forest that are very productive in terms of wildlife because they are not used by tourists, but one of the main reasons the area was selected for study was that within a reasonably small area there is land that has been impacted by agriculture and human activity in the past. This is why there are such a variety of forest types within the private reserve (forests in different stages of re-growth as well as in different ecosystems).

It is through comparative studies between the old and new forest that conservationists aim to learn more about the effect of human activity on biodiversity as well as the ability of forests to regenerate.

The environment is relaxing, with nice weather, good views, excellent accommodation and very pleasant company. Entertainment is very much home-made and there is a real community spirit among the volunteers whilst still allowing for ‘personal space’. Volunteers are well cared for whilst still having the excitement of being in the jungle. All the staff are enthusiastic, helpful and caring. There are some opportunities for engaging in leisure activities such as swimming and climbing.

The trip from Cusco to the Centre:
You will arrive in Cusco, where you'll be met by members from the Project. You will stay in Cusco for 2 nights, before beginning your journey to the Rainforest. This journey is by road and takes from 9 to 10 hours, so there will also be another overnight stop on the way. Almost the entire journey is along an unpaved road and the last few miles are very unmade indeed! For some of the way it is a typical Andean road along the side of a mountain but the road is relatively ‘quiet’ with maybe 6 -10 vehicles passing every hour.

The scenery is stunning, including barren mountains, cloud forest, seemingly endless jungle, impressive valleys. There are places of interest to stop every hour or so, either to take photos or buy refreshments. The journey is very totally fascinating and adds to the sense of adventure! The last part of the journey involves crossing a river by boat.

Return transfer from the Centre in the Amazon to Cusco is included in the cost of the placement and is arranged for you by the managers in Peru. At the end of your project, you will stay for 1 night in Cusco, and after some end of project administration, be free to depart after 9am. Those wishing to do some independent travel after their placement can opt to stay in Cusco rather than going straight to the airport. Either way, you’ll need to make your own arrangements to get to Cusco Airport, which is about a 15-minute drive away and costs about $15-$20 by taxi (prices correct at time of writing).

Rainy Season: The rainy season is between November and April with the worst of the rain occurring from February to March. Work at the Centre does continue through the rainy season because the arrays (working paths) are designed to be useable throughout the year.

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ANY QUESTIONS?

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OPTIONAL ADD-ON ACTIVITIES:

Coming soon!

Market in Peru
Waterfall in Peru

LOCATION | SIGHTSEEING:

The best advice you'll get from us is to try to see some of the country.

Cusco is a magical little island of colonial architecture. Many of the buildings are built on, over and around Inca walls, arches and doorways, and many of the narrow streets in the centre of the town are lined with original Inca stonework. Cusco was once the capital of the vast Inca empire.

The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu: This 3-5 day journey is widely considered to be the most spectacular trekking experience on the continent. Its route passes through a 13,000-foot Andean Pass beyond which lie some of the most astounding artifacts of the Inca civilization. Most of these attractions lay completely undisturbed for hundreds of years. The trail ends at the astonishingly well-preserved sacred city of Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu is probably the best-known and most spectacular archeological site on the continent. Apart from a few locals, no-one knew of the existence of the "Lost City of the Incas" until Hiram Bingham stumbled on it almost by accident in 1911. It was certainly a complete city, perched on a saddle connecting two high mountains, with residential and agricultural sections and terracing around the edges.

TRAVEL:

Read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you arrive in your new country.

REVIEWS AND FEEDBACK:

LINDSAY PETERSON
American
Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru

The experience I gained was invaluable. I learned about current environmental issues and really got to know local communities and the culture of the area. The experience really opened my eyes to the world around me.

The best thing about my placement was the people I met. I learned so much from the staff at the centre and also from my fellow volunteers. Everyone I met was so welcoming and eager to teach me about what they knew. They became like a second family.

I would highly recommend this placement to anyone, that is, if you don't mind insects! It was the most amazing month of my life and I would go back in a heartbeat!

In order to really get the most out of this placement, the volunteer needs to be flexible. The daily schedule varies with the availability of staff members, the weather, and the river. They also need to be self motivated and eager to learn. The volunteer needs to speak up and let the staff know what he/she would like to do or learn and they will usually be able to make it happen, and, of course, the volunteer needs to be at ease living with the many, many creatures of the jungle.

It's an amazing place and I loved my stay there. One of the best times I had there was on expedition. Not much more to say except that it was the best month of my life. Thank you!

CARYS HUTTON
British
Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru

The Travellers Worldwide conservation project in Peru was exactly what I hoped it would be and exactly what it claimed to be…It was also the best value for money I could find and encompassed a broad range of skills, experience, and opportunities that other projects lacked.

When did you decide to take a gap year and why? I decided in my final year at university to take a gap year after graduating. I wanted to follow my degree with a masters but wasn’t sure if this was the right choice at the right time. I have always wanted to take some time to go travelling and this seemed like the perfect time.

Where did you go and why? I went to Peru, South America. The conservation project Travellers Worldwide advertised was the best value for money I could find and encompassed a broad range of skills, experience, and opportunities that other projects lacked. Also, Peru really appealed to me because I have never been to South America and I wanted to build the conservation project into a 4-month trip where I could go travelling afterwards and explore the continent and its culture.

Which different options did you consider? I spent months searching the internet for gap-year projects, considering a variety of themes such as community work, and teaching English. In the end I narrowed my search down to conservation-related projects to follow on from my degree and pursue my interests in these areas. I ruled out projects that focused purely on one specific conservation task, e.g. projects where you spent all of your time with turtles, or all of your time with monkeys, as I wanted a more rounded experience. I also ruled out projects that claimed to be a conservation project but on further inspection seemed to revolve around physical work such as path building and erecting sign posts – i.e. minimal relevance to conservation of species.

The Travellers Worldwide conservation project in Peru was exactly what I hoped it would be and exactly what it claimed to be.

What was the best thing about the year and the worst thing? The worst thing was acclimatising to the altitude in Cusco and getting used to the locals’ style of driving (!).

The best thing was being surrounded by rainforest and the nature that it supports. Even after a month it is amazing that in the space of about 30 minutes you could see parrots and macaws, toucans, vultures, giant butterflies, leaf cutter ants, spider webs as big as a car, wild cat footprints, and a snake or two – as well as hundreds of other exotic species. It is truly amazing.

What benefits do you think it has given you in terms of employability? I am seeking work in the environment sector and so the project is relevant to my career. It demonstrates to employers that I am serious about a career in the environmental sector and that I have a genuine interest in conservation. It also emphasises personal attributes such as: confidence, team work, hard working, dedicated, etc. These are important skills that employers look for examples in.

How would you talk about it in an interview with a prospective employer? For my career I would emphasise my role in the project in terms of research, record keeping, species identification, and my passion for biodiversity. I would provide examples where I worked with minimum supervision to demonstrate my competence and reliability, and times where I worked as part of a team. Employers are also keen to know that you are able to work with a variety of people and so I would also give examples of this.

Do you think you have made the most of the gap year on your CV? I participated in the project purely for my own enjoyment, rather than the associated benefits to my employability and how it looks on my CV. I have a range of more relevant experience for my line of work and so I have stated the nature of the gap year on my CV in one short sentence.

ADAM WATTS
British
Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru

THANK YOU so, so much! I will never forget the time I spent there. Would love to go back one day.

What experience do you feel you're gaining? Team work; expanding knowledge of another culture; construction; learning Spanish; understanding rainforest ecosystems.

What is the best thing about your placement so far? One thing?! Okay, the people. Other volunteers, staff, locals. All were incredible. Friends for life as the cliché goes.

Would you recommend this placement to anyone else? Yes, yes, yes and a hundred million times yes.

What type of person do you think this placement would suit? Anyone who wants a drastic change of scenery, willing to work hard, and anyone who wants to reflect on what they're doing with their life.

What, if any, improvements could be made to the placement? Honestly, none. They were the best three months of my life and I would not change a single thing.

Was there anything that you weren’t told before your departure that you think future volunteers should know? No. It's the jungle and the surprises are half the fun!

Can you describe a typical day? Up at 05:00 to take a boat trip upriver to monitor the parrots at the clay lick, back for breakfast at 7:30, working in the biogarden into lunch at 13:00 then possibly a trail walk in the afternoon or a swim in one of the many nearby creeks. Dinner at 19:00, then a chat, game of cards and bed.

TIM CLARK
British
Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru

Good Afternoon Andrew, Well I made it here and thought I'd drop you that line that you requested to let you know how it’s going.

It has been absolutely great so far ....not easy but a most amazing experience. The centre was just like your pics and great . It was a bit of a shock to be sleeping in an open sided hut with only a mosquito net between me and the jungle ....but I survived…! I am back in Cusco now (with the luxury of a hot shower!) and internet!

I was only there for a short time. I had to work with plants, leaf traps and biogardens mainly. However the main ´´guide´´ Tilman (who was brilliant) did send me off with a special bird watching man and that was great. Overall it has been truly wonderful.

On Monday I am off to Machu Picchu with all the crowds and then on another trip to the jungle up in Iquitos...so I will make the most of Cusco this weekend!

Hope all ok with you, All the best.

SAMM BENNETT
British
Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru

I have gained a great understanding of the real life of the Amazon rainforest, ranging from the chaotic sounds of the Peccaries during the day to the peaceful sounds of the night time insects and frogs.

I have learnt a huge amount of about all kinds of animals. Ranging from insects, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and exotic birds like the Macaws, parrots and parakeets. I have gained enough understanding of all these animals that I can now identify them instantly. In my free time I have had enjoyment of fishing with the clean air and the overwhelming view of the river and the forest around me. I have also had the chance to go swimming in the river after a long trek through the jungle observing all kinds of animals, as well as swimming in the small pools of the streams within the forest.

The whole experience of helping out in this project has given me a great satisfaction, knowing that my work here is helping towards a great and important course within conservation.

My favourite experience at my placement was the sightings of the Wholly and the Squirrel Monkey. Although they are very different in many ways, they were equally exciting. On my second day in the forest I saw 20-30 small Squirrel Monkeys that ended up to be all around me jumping from one tree to another. Some of which were very curious and were trying to get a better view of me. A couple of weeks later I saw the Wholly monkey, one of the largest monkeys here. Which were huge, almost like gorillas. They were the most impressive things I’ve ever seen.

I would definitely recommend this placement to anyone interested in nature. The forest itself is the most beautiful place you possibly could go. Filled with all kinds of plants, flowers, insects and a huge variety of different animals, some of which are harder to see than others.

Can you describe a typical day?
A typical day for me is to get up for 5am to go observe the Macaws, parrots, parakeets. Then I have breakfast at 7:30. After this I then go into the jungle to do mammal observations and return by 12pm to have lunch at 1pm. Then I may go back into the jungle to go to the mammal clay lick to see what kind of activity as occured, but sometimes I will have an afternoon off to relax. Then dinner is served at 7pm. Afterwards I will go to bed or sometimes go for a night walk.

JOE ROBBINS
British
Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru

I have gained valuable experience whilst working with 2 botanists here in plant collections and identification. I have gained experience in visiting other cultures, in a country that is quite poverty stricken. This has heightened my respect for other people’s cultural activities and beliefs.

I have also gained a lot of experience in botany fieldwork which is great for my studies in botanical horticulture and will help me develop my knowledge of plants and plant ecosystems in the future. I have seen many different types of flora growing in lowland Amazon, Cloud forest and more arid flora on the mountainside, by seeing these my understanding of these plants has increased.

It is also quite good to experience living in a small group in for a long period of time; it can be challenging but is good fun and character building!!

Can you describe a typical day? Those that do mammal studies visit the claylick at 5 am, I did this once and I thought that it was an incredible experience, all those wonderful colours of the parrots!
7 am: A lovely breakfast is served
8 until 9 am: Getting ready for the day, maybe a shower or some clothes washing etc.
9 until 11 am: Identifying plants collected the previous day using an identification key. Each plant is then labelled with its family and genus, where it was collected and when. The plants are then prepared as herbarium specimens and pressed.
11.30 am: Head out on a trail to collect plant specimens, a different trail each day
1.00 pm: Box lunch often beside one of the streams
4 until 5 pm: Return from the jungle, normally very tired!
5 until 6 pm: Shower and relax
7 pm: Dinner is served, always great food
8 pm: Relaxing, reading, chatting and then bed

Visits to Salvasion on Wednesday, are really enjoyable and good fun with a nice lunch in town and internet access and an international telephone. It is good to have a day out a few times through the placement. The staff are absolutely wonderful, you cannot fault their devotion and care that they have to the volunteers. I have been looked after very well. I have had a really great time!

What's the best thing about my placement? The location. The forest that surrounds the area combines both primary and secondary and comparing between the forests is very interesting. The sights and sounds of the rainforest are incredible.

I think that this placement would best suit someone interested mainly in mammal studies as you would have to have an understanding of tropical flora or be working with botanists to study the plants. Mammal studies are easier to understand and you can teach yourself from books etc!!! Most people at the centre are mainly interested in the mammals.

Volunteers should also enjoy difficult walks and should not mind creepy crawleys! I also think that to live in a small group to you have got be sociable but at the same time respect other people’s personal space.

LAWRENCE SMART
British
Conservation in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru

It has been an amazing experience so far, I could never have imagined how this place is. Fitted in extremely fast and every set of new volunteers integrates extremely well.

I've been on a few excursions already which have been amazing and one has taken us deeper into the jungle on a 3 hour boat ride down river, taking another 5 hours to get back!

Thank you for everything you and Travellers has done for me and, as a result, has helped me decide my course of action for my future plans.

AIMS AND ACHIEVEMENTS:

The Challenges
The programme is a conservation and sustainable development organisation that has been working in the Manu region of the Peruvian Amazon for over a decade promoting sustainable resource management. The Manu National Park and Manu Biosphere Reserve are together a UNESCO world heritage site and a very important area of biodiversity. It is home to some of the last uncontacted tribes on earth and last intact forest in Peru.

It has multiple fragile ecosystems that are home so an incredible array of flora and fauna, indigenous communities and increasingly a community of immigrant settlers coming to the region. It is these people who struggle to live in harmony with their environment.

With huge amounts of deforestation and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources such as gold mining, illegal logging, slash and burn agriculture and cattle ranching increasing year on year, Manu is threatened and faces complex and daily struggle to survive.

The project works hard to protect not on the areas of primary rainforest in conjunction with the National Park authorities but also areas of regenerating forest, formerly logged areas that are now under our conservation to secure the future for Manu and future generations.

Our Goals
The goal is to create a more sustainable Amazon, a more sustainable Manu - to teach and educate people those who live and work in Manu and in a wider context for our visitors as well.

To achieve more sustainable ways of living in Manu and local community members earn a good living for themselves and their families in harmony with their environment rather than taking part in the destructive practices which are destroying the forest and threatening the survival of the wildlife that live there alongside them. This is done in 3 main areas:

  1. Our Conservation Research programme generates important knowledge about the potential value of biodiversity and ecosystem services that can be used to support the importance of protecting these incredible areas of natural beauty.
  2. We also have an enterprise programme fuelled by the knowledge from our research that supports local community members achieve sustainable business models. It provides capital, training and resources that local entrepreneurs need to transform their way of working in the region.
  3. The Education programme supports the dissemination of knowledge and the training of the next generation of conservation scientists and sustainable entrepreneurs and has educated over 200 individuals in 2015. Its focus is to provide experiential learning opportunities that transform the life skills and employability of participants as well as build the knowledge and understanding of the importance of a healthy environment.

To fund the foundation's work we use ecotourism, volunteering and educational programmes of which 100% profit goes back to fund the project work.

Our Achievements

  • The research programme has been used successfully as an education tool. In 2014 we had 132 volunteers and interns paid to stay and work with the research team, learning how to monitor rainforest ecosystems and how we can work towards a sustainable Amazon.
  • We also presented to approximately 450 tourists on the threats to the Manu region and the challenges for the local communities helping educate people from all around the world of the issues facing the region.
  • The research team committed over 325 hours a week to their stat monitoring programme and as such has build the largest and most detailed long term data sets on the biodiversity of regenerating rainforest in the Manu Biosphere Reserve and provides the scientific evidence needed to demonstrate the conservation potential of rainforest regeneration strategies to a global audience.
  • The foundation aims to build expertise in conservation in the Amazon which they have done by training a team of 9 staff both international and European as well as biology students from Cusco, Lima and Iquitos. The project also has specialist research staff undertaking PHD qualifications under Glasgow University supervision.
  • The research team is currently working on 3 scientific manuscripts that will be used to communicate the improved understanding of regenerating rainforests and their biodiversity that the conservation research in the Manu Biosphere Reserve is delivering.
  • The Research programme team has written a 158 page research programme field manual that documents how the conservation research programme is delivered in Manu.
  • Continuous data collection provides the evidence used to inform decision makers about conservation priorities in Manu and in the cultural zone in particular. The results and data on the 5 key indicator species are delivered to Manu National Park annually and we understand that the results we supply are the most comprehensive biodiversity monitoring data they receive from any source. Data from the Research programme also contributes to the UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme and supports Peru’s commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
  • Research programme canopy camera traps were able to capture images of Howler monkeys and show that they do continue to live in areas where they are hunted, even though previously thought to have been eliminated. This could be good news for native communities considered responsible for their demise.
  • The most important thing that the research programme has discovered is evidence that rainforest regeneration conservation strategies can have the capacity to recover biodiversity in human degraded rainforest habitats up to 80 to 90% of primary rainforest levels, including the vast majority species of the highest conservation importance.
  • Biogardens - By the end of 2014, the project had constructed 70 biogardens. Through our constant model of learning and developing our programmes, we observed the absolute need for roofs in order to protect against the scorching tropical sun and the heavy rains during the wet season. By the end of 2014, 24 biogardens were supplied with roofs, allowing them to produce fruit and vegetables throughout the year and resulting in a much lower rate of abandoning the biogardens.
  • Improve local education - In 2014 the Education project was structured around a six module Business Planning Course, delivered remotely by our expert project partner Teach a Man to Fish (TaM2F). The Foundation arranged for four teachers to be involved in studying the course and supported them in their learning, organisation, and planning for lessons - where they transferred their knowledge to students.
  • In 2014 we initiated Real Forest Experiences (RFEs); education experiences which were part-funded by a catalytic visitor to the area; a teacher herself, who observed the real deficiency in educational resources and experience-based learning in Manu. A total of 10 students have so far benefitted from this system.