- Cape Verde is an archipelago with rich biodiversity, home to 8 species of seabirds that breed along the year, as well as an important nesting area for loggerhead sea turtles. 5 out of these 8 seabird species can be found in Sal Island, three of them being endemic of the country. Our recent work has also identified that Sal is also home for one of the largest red-billed tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus) colonies in West Africa. The red-billed tropicbird nest in hard-to-reach areas, such as steep mountains and cliffs. Each pair lays one egg per season, eventually two in case the first one doesn’t hatch. The nesting season is throughout the whole year, with the high reproductive season during winter. The incubation period is around 45 days, and during this time both male and female birds take care of the egg. Once the chick hatches, it will be on the nest for around 80 days, until it is strong enough to leave the nest.
- Since 2017, Project Biodiversity started a study to monitor the populations of red-billed tropicbirds and osprey, to better understand their conservation status, besides their main threats in the island. While conducting the monitoring of these two species, four other seabird species were found in Sal Island and three of them for the first time ever. Project Biodiversity’s Bird Programme is part of Alcyon Program, a project for the conservation of the seabirds of Cabo Verde led by Birdlife International. If you are looking to kick-start your career in ornithology and develop new abilities, this opportunity is for you!
- This volunteer programme will allow you to gain hands-on field experience, with direct contact with key-species to the local biodiversity. We only take a limited number of volunteers each season and are looking for people who want to do something really worthwhile during their free time and who are prepared for some challenging, but very fulfilling work. During the volunteering programme, volunteers will work with the different species of seabirds and the osprey, depending on the period of the year.
- Under the supervision of the coordinators, volunteers will take part in different activities: • Monitoring and following the colonies;
- • Ringing of adults and chicks;
• Monthly census;
• Deployment of GPS and geolocators devices in adults during different stages of the reproductive period to study feeding and migration areas;
• Help in the collection of blood, fat, feaces, feathers, and diet samples from adults and chicks;
• Deployment of camera traps to better understand the threats the different colonies face.
- This is a unique experience where you’ll learn about seabird conservation techniques and you will work side by side with experienced conservationists, while enjoying an amazing landscape. You will also work with threatened species that can only be seen in very few places and will have the opportunity to make a real difference to their survival in Sal Island.
- Volunteers are based in a shared apartment in Santa Maria with other volunteers and project staff. You will be sharing a bedroom with one or two more volunteers. Volunteers work five days each week and will have 2 day off to explore the island, enjoy diving, surfing and other watersports, or just lay on the beach and relax! The project has agreements with different businesses that do a very good discount for our volunteers.
- Have a look at this video of Santa Maria beach, near where you will be based (https://youtu.be/LN1o9ELz0aQ). Participating in this programme will require long days in the field under the sand and waking up very early to avoid the heat of the day. Some of the colonies are located in steep cliffs that we carefully access and in an offshore islet that demands good swimming skills. A good level of fitness and physical and mental energy is required.
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