C3 Internship Review – Stuart Meyer – Madagascar 2011
After finishing my degree I was left in the position of deciding the path that I wanted to take in life. With a keen interest of conservation and a deep set love of the marine environment, I decided that I needed to gain valuable field experience in this area. I chose the Madagascan project as I wanted to have the opportunity to live and breathe the African way of life, work in a country with fascinating, endemic wildlife and for a company that was committed to a community based approach for conservation
I arrived inMadagascarin October to start my adventure with the conservation NGO C3. On arrival in Diego I was given a briefing into life inMadagascarand what I will be doing and expected to do. The current interns on the project gave me an incredibly warm reception and I was made to feel right at home from the off. The first week of my internship was spent at the office and was all about getting to grips with the way C3 ran and becoming accustomed with the areas in which we would be conducting research. To do this we launched straight in to the Health and Safety tests and the research tests, so that we would be prepared for when we were needed to head out into the field. It provided a fascinating insight into the research and studies we would be working on and the work that had previously been conducted by C3 themselves in other locations.
Midway in to my second week I was given the opportunity to get out in to the field, on the first of three turtle research field trips I would be a part of. This was my first experience of turtle survey work, which I found interesting and exciting. It was tough work, having to trek across long beaches, in 35 degree heat, but I found it to be a richly rewarding experience. The field work took me to some amazing places especially Nosy Hara Marine park. Getting out to the tranquil island paradise of Nosy Ho, with its pristine, crystal waters provided the epitome of natural beauty and what you would hope to expect from a marine protected area. Unfortunately like the study areas before it, they would still be littered with the shells and carcasses of turtles and sharks, which showed the level of work, education and alternative lifestyle opportunities required to help eradicate this problem in the future.
Working in the field is a unique experience. The Malagasy people are warm and welcoming, and when you are on camp duty, no matter what you may be doing, you will always have an audience of 10 children, intrigued by anything you may do and always ready to join in. If you don’t cook, then this is the perfect time to learn and there is no better setting than sitting outside, peeling potatoes with the view of a majestic sunset, and only the light of the moon and stars to help you.
Unfortunately, about two-thirds of the way through my internship, during the preparation for the big field trip, which I was extremely looking forward to being a part of, I came down with a virus that brought my stay with C3 to an early conclusion. It was devastating news to be told I should return toEngland, but with my health being most important, I decided it was in my best interest, and returned to England 3 weeks early. Illness aside, the project, like most things in life had its up’s and down’s, but was a richly rewarding time, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get field work experience, understand what its like to live in a different culture and see how conservation affects a community and vice versa. Madagascar is a beautiful country and a wonderful place to live and learn for 3 months.