Volunteer for: Frontier
Your Tanzania adventure begins with a thrilling journey high above the turquoise Indian Ocean as you fly to Mafia Island – the most beautiful of Tanzania’s spice islands, where tranquil white sand beaches, friendly villagers and world class snorkelling and scuba diving sites combine to make this a true tropical paradise.
Snorkel off the island’s dazzling white sand beaches, swim among the clouds of tropical fish in every colour of the rainbow and wander along the empty shores. Let Mafia’s vibrant culture and friendly communities warmly welcome you.
You will be joining an ongoing conservation and community development project, which means that you could be helping to assess the health of the reef while you snorkel or helping local people to learn English to improve their employment prospects in the Marine Park. Plus there will be plenty of time to relax under a palm tree and gaze at the sun drenched ocean or laze in your hammock and enjoy the breeze.
Tanzania’s coast is home to some of the most spectacular beaches in the world. The crystal clear waters host a wealth of marine habitats and wildlife, making this a perfect location to swim and snorkel and explore a pristine, magical underwater world.
The vivid, multi hued coral reefs support a dazzling array of tropical reef fish and provide rich feeding grounds for turtles, rays and other marine creatures, whilst the deep blue offshore waters support sharks, dolphins and whale sharks as well as vast shoals of cruising pelagics.
Swim and snorkel to explore this pristine seascape and you’ll discover extensive areas of undamaged coral and healthy populations of multicoloured fish and see turtles and marine mammals and you may have the chance to learn to recognise a huge diversity of inter tidal animals from tiny hermit crabs to pastel hued anemones.
On shore apart from relaxing on the island’s perfect, undeveloped beaches, you may have the chance to work in the lush mangrove forests, unique ecosystems which straddle water and land. Or you could learn about the activities of the traditional fishermen, as well as discovering and reporting which marine organisms are being sustainably harvested and which are being dangerously depleted.
The activities you’ll carry out will be rewarding and exciting and hugely beneficial to Mafia Island Marine Park’s conservation efforts, as well as being amazing fun! At the end of the day you will gain immense satisfaction from knowing that you have helped in the effort to save this precious marine wilderness, protecting it for future generations.
WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO?
Mafia Island Marine Park
Mafia Island is about as close as you can get to the quintessential Indian Ocean tropical paradise. The tiny island of about 40,000 is a friendly, laid-back place that has long been praised as a diver’s paradise.
Mafia’s luxuriant mangroves, luminous seagrass beds and dazzling coral reefs play host to a multitude of tropical reef fish, thorny and spotted seahorses and four species of graceful and gentle sea turtles. Offshore there are dolphins and the deeper waters are a regular stop off point for migrating humpback whales and giant whale sharks (seasonal). You can experience this magical seashore environment when you join the Frontier beach camp on Mafia Island and swim and snorkel from the beach out to the crystal clear waters of Tanzania’s exclusive Marine Park.
Conserving the coral reefs
Threats to the coastal environment on and around Mafia Island are on the up as unregulated tourism is on the increase and the local population is growing. Increasing competition for food means that artisanal fishing techniques such as seine netting are becoming inadequate and inefficient, encouraging the use of less discriminate catch practices such as dynamite fishing. Other threats include the over harvesting of octopus and sea cucumbers and the over collecting of shells and corals for the expanding marine curio trade.
By taking part in this project you have the chance to help us with our ongoing assessment of the marine environment, which helps to ensure that the Marine Park is properly safeguarded.
Swim with Dolphins, Rays & Turtles
Your beach conservation adventure will involve you in observing the incredible biodiversity of the coastal area, seashore zone and shallow marine habitats. While swimming you will see spectacular coral reefs and dazzling reef fish and you may also observe marine mammals and turtles.
Discover Swahili Culture as you work with local communities
Tanzania is a poor country and people survive mainly by subsistence farming and fishing. We are working to help local communities on Mafia Island by providing environmental education and by teaching English, which improves their employment prospects. Through getting involved with community activities, sucha as environmental awareness in local schools, you can experience the culture and lifestyle of the local people. You might be required to help teach English in the local community and in the process learn some Swahili from the villagers. As you watch the local fishermen sail out on their traditional dhows you will discover how the local community live sustainably and in harmony with the natural world.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
Our marine research and conservation programme is run in association with the Mafia Island Marine Park. The project aims to provide local stakeholders and government bodies with the information they need to design and implement management plans for the future protection of the fabulous Marine Park on Mafia Island. You will have the chance to see some of the reefs from the project boat and to observe the various wildlife communities that live on them. You might also get the chance to explore and record the living organisms that inhabit the luxuriant mangrove forests, dense seagrass beds and productive intertidal areas. Please be aware that there will be a limit to the amount of research you can get involved in when only snorkelling.
Whilst swimming and shore snorkelling you’ll see an extraordinary array of animals from turtles to rays, sea cucumbers to feathery starfish, and spiny urchins to octopus. Your work may even allow you to observe dolphins or gigantic whale sharks depending on the time of year you join the project.
You will also have the chance to get involved in our community work, perhaps by helping with environmental education days or by helping to teach English to villagers. By the end of your stay you should be able to identify a number of coloured and patterned reef fish and you will have made strong friendships with the local villagers, especially the children. The work is intense and challenging and you’ll get immense satisfaction from having been through your camp experience and from having made a valuable contribution to the conservation of this untarnished marine wilderness. You will return home with the new friends you’ve made and a wealth of experience, incredible photos, videos and memories.
You’ll find your team to be a fun, dynamic mix of ages and experiences with members who all share a passion for travelling in developing countries and saving endangered wildlife. Your staff will be young, friendly individuals who are highly experienced in their field many of whom may also have volunteered on a Frontier project earlier in their career.
- Training Provided
- Housing Available
- International Volunteers