Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation Volunteering

Kilombero Valley Ornithological Centre is an NGO striving to conserve birds, their habitats and biodiversity within the Kilombero Valley. Visit our website: http://www.kvoc.co.uk for more information.

As our name might suggest, much of our work is focused on birds in the region, but we also conduct a range of surveys looking at the rich biodiversity within the Kilombero Valley including reptiles, amphibians, small mammals and carnivores. One of the reasons that there is such a high level of wildlife in the region is the proximity of the Kilombero Valley to the Selous Game Reserve and Udzungwas Mountains National Park. The valley is a key area that support and help protect critical habitat necessary for endemic, globally significant and migratory wildlife species. It provides crucial wildlife connectivity between the Udzungwa Mountains National Park and the Selous Game Reserve. The endemic Kilombero Weaver (P. burnieri, IUCN Status: Vulnerable), Puku antelope (Kobus vardonii, IUCN Status: Near Threatened: 75% of the remaining global population of puku antelope live in the valley) and localized endemic populations of the Udzungwa red colobus (Procolobus gordonorum, IUCN Status: Endangered) found in the area and all suffer from habitat loss associated with the rapidly expanding human population.

We work closely with the local communities and schools in the area, including Ulanga District Council. We also conduct socioeconomic surveys to try and better understand the impact that agriculture and farming in the region is having on the wildlife, and vice versa. We are a non-profit organisation and volunteer contributions are a key source of funding for the work that we do.

Currently, the costs for volunteers are US$700 per month. We are occasionally able to take volunteers for periods shorter than this if you are unable to commit to this length of time. Our volunteers contribute more and experience more of what the project has to offer if they stay for at least a couple of months. We are also happy to help students at college or university who would like to conduct fieldwork for their individual projects, provided this can be reconciled with ongoing work. Students are eligible to apply for one of our internships, which run from 8-15 weeks at a cost of US$100 per week.

The costs quoted above include collection from Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar Es Salaam and transport to the project site, as well as full board and lodging (shared accommodation or single person tent) once at the KVOC camp. All other costs must to be covered by the volunteer.

During the project at the center, volunteers will be working in the field (camping) three days, then two days of visiting local schools to teach English Lesson and conservation education increasing conservation awareness and engage local communities in discussions regarding the protection of wildlife of the area, one day of socio economic survey that will help to understand better the impact that agriculture and farming in the region is having on the wildlife and vice versa and one day off. This is a simple timetable for six working days in every week.

Duties of volunteers will be to assist the research officer with:-  

  1. General map of area that will include roads, general habitat types (forest, rivers, floodplain/grasslands, and swamps/ponds), preferred campsites, and Wildlife Management Area (WMA) boundaries.
  2. Species biodiversity inventory for birds, reptiles, amphibians, large mammals, and carnivores in ‘hotspots’ where these wildlife species may occur throughout the year.
  3. Systematic population surveys for large mammals and carnivores, to help attain a relative abundance index of wildlife. These studies will use repeatable methodologies to allow for detection of wildlife population changes over time, which will be important in assessing the impacts of local or tourist hunting, ecotourism activities such as camping and safari tours, or human pressures on the edges of the protected areas.
  4. Train local game scouts, project managers and local conservationists on methodologies used for wildlife inventories and surveys.
  5. Community surveys with local villagers surrounding to help understand potential conflict, concerns, and attitudes towards the RMZP.

     6. Monitor human use inside the protected zone, such as human

inhabitance,   poaching of animals, charcoal, trees, fish, or illegal grazing of livestock.