Help to promote turtle conservation on an island paradise
The turtle, a species which dates back over 100 million years, is slowly disappearing all over the world. This devestating trend is tellingly prominent in Thailand, where great numbers of leatherback, green and olive ridley turtles used to nest in abundance. Working with a small NGO you will be intimately involved in monitoring the turtle nesting beaches of this remote Thai island, an important task to reverse this tragic trend.
Running since the late 1990s, this project is effectively mapping the changes in turtle nesting habits in this area of the country. Working closely with national research bodies and biology centres, it combines conservation and education to promote the survival of turtles in the region. Your days will involve walking the nesting beaches for signs of turtles and monitoring them out at sea in their feeding areas. All of the work that you do here will contribute to a worldwide effort to save this dying species - and if you're lucky, you might even be able to witness the nesting turtles or the babies hatching.
In addition to the work to promote the conservation of turtles, there is also the opportunity to help restore a mangrove forest, essential for the protection of the coastline. Working closely within the local community you can also assist with the development of a thriving community conservation project, working closely with the locals to protect their environment.
This is all put together against a backdrop of the beautiful island of Koh Phra Thong, an extraordinary location with crystal blue water, a snorkeler's paradise, and spectacular unspoilt sandy beaches.
What will I be doing?
Your day will start with a walk along the stretch of golden sand beach, monitoring the nesting beaches as the sun rises over the sea. Breakfast is taken on the outskirts of the jungle, where you will be monitoring the behaviour of the turtles out at sea. Data is collected about the turtles, the weather, and any specific sightings.
Your afternoons are spent on various projects, from preparing display material for the conservation and community centre to helping protect local mangrove forests. Many volunteers choose to get involved in teaching English in the local community, assisting with reef surveys and getting involved in beach clean ups.
The turtle season is from November to April. During that time volunteers will be involved in a range of activities, mainly including:
- Sea turtle monitoring on the beach
- Sea turtle behaviour observation at sea
- Weather monitoring
- Data collection
- Promotional work for raising awareness
- Getting involved in community work
- Teaching English at the local school
- Helping with environmental education
At occasions throughout the season you could get involved in the following activities also:
- Tortoise and freshwater turtle survey
- Reef surveys
- Mangrove forest rehabilitation projects
- Sea grass research activities
- Reef and beach cleaning
The conservation centre promotes environmental awareness and provides facilities to carry out small, focused research on turtles. A database of species composition, habitat use and conservation status is created, and shared across the world. There is now an active programme running with the local population which has been so successful it has led to the formation of local conservation groups. This is such an important step towards the recovery of the region from the devastating after-effects of the tsunami. Volunteers get involved in this work and might contribute to workshops involving youth groups and university study tours.
You fly into Phuket airport on any Monday between November and April. Here a taxi will meet you and drive you down to the port (4 hours) where you will be met by a boat to take you over to the island.
Accommodation and Food
You will stay with a family in the village which gives a tremendous opportunity to interact with the warm local people and share their way of life. The houses are all newly built after the original village was destroyed by the tsunami. By living in this new and safer village location with the local people you are helping to promote the regeneration of this community.
You should expect to share a room with one other volunteer, however single room home stays are also available. Rooms are comfortable yet basic, with mosquito nets, traditional sleeping mattress and linen provided.
All meals are provided by a local resident and you will enjoy excellent freshly cooked local vegetarian dishes three meals a day.
The village's electricity is provided by a generator, and as such is only available in the evenings.
Cost and what support is provided?
This project operates between November and April - the nesting season of the turtles. 1 weeks costs £628. 2 weeks costs £878, with each extra week £290 p/w.
What is Provided?
- Collection from Phuket airport, where you will be transported down to the port for the ferry over to the island
- Boat transfer to and from Koh Phra Thong at the beginning and end of your stay.
- Clean, comfortable accommodation with a family.
- Three cooked meals a day provided by the local community
- One hour of Thai massage
- Full briefing on what to expect from the placements either face to face or by phone, as appropriate.
- Pre-departure advice covering medical and safety features.
- Full volunteer information package on arrival
- Help and advice 24/7 from our UK office
- Visa advice (which will vary depending on length of stay).
- Free access to InterHealth's Travel Health Advice Service
- Free myTsafe secure document storage account - worth £39!
What do I need?
- A full passport valid for the duration of your stay.
- Insurance (covering your placement time and any planned independent travel).
- Cost of changing your return flight date if you need to.
- Independent travel costs and return to the airport.
- Any additional costs such as trips, snacks, entertainment (allow maybe £25 per week depending on lifestyle)
- No visa is necessary for under 30 days from UK and most western European countries. Advice given on longer stays.
- No compulsory inoculations are necessary although do check with your doctor to make sure polio, typhoid and Hep A&B jabs are up to date.
- Flights to Phuket. We can help organise these- just ask!
One more thing...
The giant leatherback turtle dates back 100 million years and can grow to up to two metres in length!