Frontier provides volunteering opportunities, gap year placements, and inspirational adventures in 60 countries worldwide. Founded in 1989 as nonprofit conservation and development NGO, Frontier offers more than 400 capacity-building programs that combine community development, ecosystem protection, and economic growth, with an emphasis on conserving endangered wildlife and building livelihoods for under-resourced communities. Frontier gives you the ability to make a positive impact as you travel the world.
Travel to one of the most ecologically diverse places on Earth and contribute to a conservation program in Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula. Walk out of camp each morning and embark on a different adventure, checking on sea turtle nests one day, conducting primate surveys the next day, and then recording puma and jaguar sightings.
When you work on the Big Cats, Primates & Turtle Conservation program, you’ll gain practical experience in research and conservation, and study the ecology and behavior of species including jaguars, sloths, tapirs, and Olive Ridley and Pacific Green turtles. Primates in the region are the squirrel monkey, mantled howler monkey, Geoffroy’s spider monkey, and the white-faced capuchin monkey.
The Osa Peninsula is home to five cat species: the jaguar and puma, the smaller jaguarondi and margay, and the intermediate-sized ocelot. Another facet of research is on the neotropical river otter, which is an elusive and critically endangered animal. The research camp is situated in the dense tropical forest on the edge of Corcovado National Park where you’ll carry out biodiversity surveys, which could include:
- Walking primate transects to collect valuable data on various primate species in the park
- Patrolling beaches to assess and survey turtle nesting habits and hatchling health
- Surveying big cat tracks and collecting data
- Participating in surveys of exotic bird populations, invertebrates, and other animal groups on the peninsula
- Helping with jungle trail creation and maintenance
You’ll arrive at Puerto Jiménez Airport (PJM) and be met by Frontier staff, who will escort you by local bus to the project camp. The jungle research camp is simple, and accommodation is in open-air, shared, mixed-sex eco-cabins in the jungle near Carate. Conditions at Camposita are basic and environmentally-friendly, so mosquito netting is a must. There are showers and toilets. Meals are included, and cooking is carried out communally on a rotational basis. You’ll learn how to cook local dishes, which are mainly vegetarian.
Free time can be spent swimming in the ocean, swinging in the hammock with a good book, horse riding, forest canopy tours, dolphin and whale watching tours, and guided trips to the national park. This program starts from $895 for one week. Click here to learn more and to register!
Malaysia has the second-highest tiger population in the world after India, and you can help protect this classic animal and its habitat when you volunteer on the Tiger Conservation program with Frontier. Travel to the jungle and patrol the wildlife corridor between the Taman Negara National Park and the main mountain range in West Malaysia, and be a deterrent to poaching. The wildlife trail also is used by elephants, rhinos, leopards, and sun bears.
This project gives you hands-on experience tracking wild animals as part of a team. You’ll trek through the jungle to collect data on the range and movement of the tiger, finding and identifying animals tracks and other signs of animal crossing. The team also organizes and runs anti-poaching patrols, where you’ll look for snares, record their location with a GPS, and destroy these animal traps. Your guide will teach you how to use camera traps to monitor animals that are in the area, and point out signs of animals as well as interesting flora and fauna on the walks.
You’ll need to be fit and healthy enough for jungle walks, as well as exploring the limestone caves. There are 60 caves in the Merapoh region, and many have been occupied by humans. Some have waterfalls or underground rivers, and even a variety of nocturnal wildlife.
Another component of this program is teaching conversational English to the people of the Batek village, focusing on environmental topics and your explorations. Share your culture and history, helping them learn about you and your interests as they develop a small tourism industry.
Fly into Kuala Lumpur Airport (KUL) and make your way to Merapoh, where you’ll be met by the staff for orientation and training. In-country support is available 24/7. You’ll stay in a dormitory-style volunteer house in same-gender rooms. You’ll have continental breakfast and packed lunch, and enjoy dinner out using a food allowance. Shops are walking distance of the house.
Spend your free time exploring Merapoh, or relaxing after the long days on the Tiger Trail. When your project is completed, explore Kuala Lumpur using a bus tour around the city, or take cooking lessons. Enjoy the canopy skywalk at the nearby national park, or take an eco-bike tour through Melaka. Fees for this program start at $795 for one week. Learn more here.
Join the Carnivore Conservation program in Namibia and help Frontier and its partners on a sustainable conservation plan that saves cheetahs, leopards, and hyenas. Namibia is home to one-third of the cheetah population, and it is an endangered species in this country. As well, the leopard’s range has decreased in the past years because of habitat loss and hunting. These important animals are threatened because their habitat has become farmland, and they prey on the farmers’ livestock.
You will spend the first week of your placement helping Frontier’s partners develop a sustainable conservation plan that avoids human-animal conflict. Work with biologists to monitor and track these two big cats, providing scientific research into their behavior. You’ll take part in animal counts, tracking and identifying carnivore spoors, and locating trees where cheetahs leave marks. Assist with setting and checking box traps and capture of the animals, then help transport them to a remote wildlife release site. Then you’ll learn how to locate and process the telemetry tracking data of collared cheetahs and leopards.
The remainder of your placement will be spent at the wildlife sanctuary, supporting the staff with their daily tasks, including feeding and general care of lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, caracals, meerkats, and sometimes orphaned baby baboons.
Fly into Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek (WDH), and a team member will meet you then transport you to the sanctuary for your project introduction. You’ll sleep in a large safari tent with a living room and a shared bedroom area. Electricity and solar-heated showers are available, and all meals are included. Program fees start at $2,745 for three weeks.
While you’re in Namibia, enjoy some of the unique activities this country has to offer, such as dune surfing in the Namib Desert, visiting the Kolmanskopp ghost town, or traveling to Cape Cross to see the vast seal colony that lives there. Learn more and apply here!