Wildlife Research and Monitoring Volunteer Program

Assist in researching wild species in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest

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Program Overview:
ARCAmazon and its partners are committed to researching Peru’s Amazon rainforest and its rich biodiversity. Together, our teams have been collecting species data in Peru’s Madre de Dios region since 1997. As part of this work, we are identifying, researching and reducing human impacts on wildlife in the region. We share our data freely with land owners, policy makers, NGOs and businesses to encourage everyone to take a stake in conserving this crucial area. This process provides the perfect opportunity for aspiring researchers and nature enthusiasts to get involved with researching wildlife in the Amazon while learning new skills and gaining field research experience. Together, we have trained and encouraged hundreds of wildlife research volunteers and interns from all over the globe.
Amazon Academy‘s Wildlife Research and Monitoring Volunteer Program offers the participant an opportunity to volunteer in the rainforest as a research assistant on professional wildlife monitoring teams. Volunteer research assistants will work alongside and learn from their research team coordinator, an experienced tropical biologist. Volunteers will assist their coordinator closely with the day-to-day data collection, input and analysis needed. The objective of the participant is to assist in monitoring the populations and behavioral activity of Neotropical species over space and time. This gives our conservationists a greater chance of identifying factors which might affect species within the reserve, Las Piedras Watershed and the Madre de Dios region.
Further Details:
Volunteers normally participate for between 1 week and 6 months (sometimes shorter or longer). Most work is carried out in the forest along the Las Piedras River, within the world-renowned rainforest region of Tambopata-Madre de Dios, Peru. After an initial welcome and training session in Puerto Maldonado, Amazon Academy volunteers will be transported (usually by 4×4 and boat) to the Las Piedras Amazon Center and Forest Ranger Camps where they will live and work for the majority of their time with relatively infrequent trips back to town, depending on work requirements/personal needs. ARCAmazon provides certificates to all program participants and is happy to consider providing character and employment references.
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1 WEEK (7 DAYS)

Placement Fee
$930 £715
Full Board, Training, 24/7 Supervisor, Daily Activities, Weekly Adventures, Airport Collection/Drop Off

2 WEEK (14 DAYS)

Placement Fee
$1,450 £1,115
Full Board, Training, 24/7 Supervisor, Daily Activities, Weekly Adventures, Airport Collection/Drop Off

3 WEEK (21 DAYS)

Placement Fee
$1,750 £1,346
Full Board, Training, 24/7 Supervisor, Daily Activities, Weekly Adventures, Airport Collection/Drop Off

1 MONTH (30 DAYS)

Placement Fee
$2,345 £1,804
Full Board, Training, 24/7 Supervisor, Daily Activities, Weekly Adventures, Airport Collection/Drop Off

2 MONTHS (60 DAYS)

Placement Fee
$3,955 £3,042
Full Board, Training, 24/7 Supervisor, Daily Activities, Weekly Adventures, Airport Collection/Drop Off

3 MONTHS (90 DAYS)

Placement Fee
$5,130 £3,946
Full Board, Training, 24/7 Supervisor, Daily Activities, Weekly Adventures, Airport Collection/Drop Off

4 MONTHS (120 DAYS)

Placement Fee
$6,120 £4,708
Full Board, Training, 24/7 Supervisor, Daily Activities, Weekly Adventures, Airport Collection/Drop Off

MORE THAN 120 DAYS

Placement Fee
$50 per day
Full Board, Training, 24/7 Supervisor, Daily Activities, Weekly Adventures, Airport Collection/Drop Off
Please Note: ARCAmazon is a not-for-profit initiative and all fees are strictly used to cover the program’s expenses and direct protection of forest in the Las Piedras watershed. For program durations outside of those stated above (e.g. 16 days) we apply a pro rata system to determine the final fee. In cases where participants require services above and beyond our regular provisions (see ‘Included’ section below), an additional fee may be required to cover this (to be discussed on application).

Mammal Research Team Volunteer

Mammal Team

The Las Piedras Amazon Center mammal research team is responsible for undertaking line-transect surveys in the early morning, afternoon, and occasionally at night, and for maintaining a series of footprint traps and remote camera traps which are sensitive to the heat and motion of animals, as well as recording the presence and absence of more habitat-specific species in areas not directly sampled by these methods. The Las Piedras Amazon Center mammal research team is currently taking data on 40+ mammal species across its key study sites. Here are some regular mammal research team tasks:

  • Walk approx. 7 km of trail systems and transects slowly each day, starting the first session at 5:30 am, to check for mammals and take down data of sightings
  • Occasionally walk trails and transects at night to census nocturnal mammals
  • Create and check mammal footprint traps daily
  • Maintain existing trails and on occasions open new ones
  • Set up heat- and motion-sensing camera traps and download images every few days
  • Enter data of the above research into the project computers
  • Assist other researchers and research teams (bird, herpetofauna, insects, plants) with their work if there is spare time and energy left

Bird Research Team Volunteer

Bird Team

The Las Piedras Amazon Center bird research team is responsible for undertaking early morning point-count censuses of understory birds along pre-established trails, as well as mist-net capture,banding/ringing, sound recording and call ID, and recording incidental encounters with any bird species.

Here are some regular bird research team tasks:

  • Each day help carry and set up mist-nets along trail systems and transects
  • Head out at around 5:00 am every morning to monitor the nets and help to carefully process the birds caught, before releasing them safely back into the wild
  • Observe and learn about extraction of birds from mist-nets, rapid ‘in-hand’ processing and banding techniques, tips and tricks for identification of Neotropical bird species, ageing through use of molt cycles/limits, and safe release. (Las Piedras Amazon Center volunteers would not generally handle wild birds unless they have previous experience, or if the coordinator is very confident that the volunteer is capable of doing so without bringing harm to the animal).
  • Photograph captured birds for future identification and field guides
  • Walk an average of 5 km of trails and transects, or head out on canoes or catamarans on alternate days to observe and record birds, and take data of all sightings (VES/Point Counts)
  • Machete use – maintain existing transects and trails and on occasion cut new ones for mist-net placement
  • Enter data of the research into a computer and help the coordinator analyse this data
  • Assist other researchers and research teams (mammal, herpetofauna, insects, plants) with their work if there is spare time and energy left

Herpetofauna Research Team Volunteer

Herpetofauna Team

The Las Piedras Amazon Center herp research team is responsible for maintaining a number of 1-hectare plots in which they undertake day and night surveys using line-transects and squarequadrat searches, as well as intensive species searches in habitats not sampled by these methods, such as bamboo thickets and a swamp or two(!), in order to identify the presence of reptile and amphibian species. The Las Piedras Amazon Center herp research team has proven to be the most likely team to find new species and species range extensions, and they currently take data on 230+ herpetofauna species.

Here are some regular herpetofauna conservation research team tasks:

  • Daily monitoring of research plots for herpetofauna, once during late morning and again either before or after dinner to collect data
  • Occasionally walk to (and through) swamp, stream and lakeside habitats to search for species that might not be found within research plots
  • Build and maintain herpetofauna pitfall traps and check them daily
  • Maintain existing transects and on occasions open new ones with machetes
  • Assist in the careful handling of snakes, frogs, lizards and sometimes caiman and turtles in order to identify, process and photograph them before release
  • Enter data of the above research into the project computers and assist the coordinator with analysis
  • Assist other researchers and research teams (bird, mammal, insects, plants) with their work if there is spare time and energy left

Included in This Field Placement

This is what we cover for you, with your fee:

  • Transfers on arrival and departure at Puerto Maldonado (airport, bus station or hotel)
  • Scheduled transport to and from field sites during the placement
  • Shared accommodation from start to end of the period (in the field and Puerto Maldonado)
  • Three substantial and healthy 2-course meals each day
  • Clean drinking water, tea, coffee and fruit juice at all times
  • Limited use of electricity generator each day
  • Support and training which may include: Health & Safety; trail use and orienteering, basic jungle survival, basic ecology, impacts and challenges affecting the forests in Madre de Dios; research and conservation solutions for the rainforests in Madre de Dios
  • Specialized training (depending on the placement): Species identification, conservation research, wildlife monitoring (track identification, camera trapping, VES surveys), forest conservation, reforestation, community engagement, permaculture, green building, sustainability, wildlife film production, wildlife photography, wildlife management
  • Personal supervision within your chosen project/field of work, by an experienced field coordinator (2-5 participants per coordinator)
  • Care and support from an experienced logistics and administration team based at the ARCAmazon head office in Puerto Maldonado
  • Weekly excursions (macaw and parrot clay-lick, boat rides, mini-expeditions, community social events)
  • The experience of one of the most spectacular natural environments on Earth with alongside a highly trained and fun team of conservationists

This is what is not included:

  • Travel insurance (compulsory for all participants)
  • Flights and/or bus tickets to and from Puerto Maldonado
  • Spending money for snacks, drinks and souvenirs
  • Personal equipment (headlamp, bug repellent, binoculars etc.)
  • Participants may prefer to bring their own tent if they would like to camp (see accommodation section)
  • Add-ons (Tours to Machu Picchu, Cusco and other parts of Peru, full expeditions, lazy river experience, remote native community visit, etc.) – please inquire on application

The Accommodation

The Camp at Las Piedras Amazon Center is designed for expedition-style research, tours and learning programs. It has a rustic Medicine Man-style charm. For those who love nature and raw wilderness, this is the perfect place for immersion into the wild. The camp is located near beautiful streams and waterfalls. It’s surrounded by trail networks and research grids. The camp is surprisingly comfortable with raised camping platforms, a central work/dining area and a fully-equipped kitchen. There is running water, limited electricity, outdoor showers and composting toilets. The camp can hold up to 25 guests at a time.

See more about the Camp here

Accommodation / Sleeping
The camp consists of raised wooden camping platforms, each able to hold 1-4 tents. The platforms are covered with tarpaulins and the sides open to the spectacular forest surrounds. Guests may prefer to camp on the forest floor in the designated zones. Camping mattresses, hammocks, bedding and mosquito nets can be arranged for those without their own tents.

Bathrooms
The camp has six outdoor showers and composting toilet facilities which minimize the impact on the forest. There are clothes washing facilities near the bathroom area and lines to dry washing in the sun.

Communal Area
The camp has 2 expedition-style areas for living, dining and work. This is where, among other activities, guests can interact and play games, meals are served and data is downloaded and entered. There are a number of hammocks dotted throughout the surrounding forest.

Food
The kitchens are always hubs of activity and our excellent chefs are usually happy to have company and helping hands. We know that food is our secret weapon for getting into the hearts of our clients, the most important ingredient to a happy stay with us. Our chefs are undoubtedly the best in the region and the envy of some of the top ecolodges in the Amazon. Helping our chefs in kitchen will give visitors an opportunity to learn about cooking with local ingredients and practice local Spanish lingo. Meals are served in the common areas. The kitchen at the camp may also be used by those who prefer to prepare their own meals.

Electricity
Electricity is provided from generators which are active during only some parts of the day. Guests will have opportunities to recharge electronic items and use electronic equipment in the early mornings, midday and evenings after dark. At 9pm the lights go out and the Amazon Center goes into quiet mode to allow guests to soak up the sound of the forest at night and get well rested for the following day’s activities. Guests are provided candles and are encouraged to bring personal battery powered lights/torches with enough power for their stay.

Communication
Due to the remoteness of the Amazon Center there is no phone signal and no internet. The Amazon Center staff communicate with the administration team in town twice a day via a longwave radio. The field-based team is able to get messages to and from loved ones through this means if required. In general we find our guests receive a ‘much greater connection’ without wifi!

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