This internship has answered so many questions to my professional life

South Africa: Scientific Field Research and Techniques

My name is Angelo, I am 24 years old and I am studying Zoology and Bioscience in Glasgow, Scotland. I am french but I choose to move to Glasgow a few years ago in order to improve my English which I knew would open me so many doors in the future, for both my professional career and my daily life. I’ve always been fascinated by animals or the wildlife in a holistic manner, however,

I’ve always been struggling to find a direction or a path to pursue my career. Through Bushwise, which is a organisation that provide FGSAS, I heard about this project and I took the chance to travel to South Africa to do a wildlife conservation internship. This has changed my life forever and I will never be grateful enough for this incredible experience that I’ve had the pleasure to share with the volunteers and the staff members. After 3 months of being in the bush, I am now sure that my future will lead me here, in the African wildlife to either work in conservation or as a field guide. I was nervous during my first flight, coming to Africa for the first time ever. But after my first day in Limpopo, I already felt part of the big Family. The staff members and the volunteers present for my beginning were extremely friendly and welcoming. They knew exactly how to integrate the new volunteers. After a week of lectures and general research drives, where the staff members taught us about the animals and the work that the project do in the reserve, the volunteers were fully trained and ready to work. I’ve never felt lost or confused once during my first week, even though we had a lot to learn.

A typical day with the project in Limpopo, usually starts with a morning drive. I never got bored of looking at the indescribable African sunrise, meanwhile the animals are slowly waking up. Once the sun arose, we were looking for the cheetah coalition to collect data. The cheetah and lions in the reserve are part of the main focus of the project . Being this close to the three male cheetahs every day was something that I could never forget. After finding the cheetah, we were either going to look for other animals of the reserve, always learning as much as possible with a very passionate and enthusiastic staff member. It is so much more pleasant to learn about elephant or eagle when they are standing right in front of you. In the vehicle, we get the chance to observe the animals closely, without intruding on their space and natural behaviour. I have had so many amazing sightings and every day has felt better than the previous day. The difference between the project in Limpopo and a safari experience from a lodge is that with the project , we contribute to the welfare of the wildlife by collecting important data, or through reserve work management. Volunteers can leave here feeling like they have made a difference, and truly contributed to the wildlife conservation. Having awesome daily sightings is the result of the hard work that we all put in and this is a marvelous feeling.

My internship has been the perfect balance between learning a lot, having a lot of fun, and having so many unforgettable sightings. I would advise anyone coming here to not be shy or nervous, every single person that I’ve met has been super friendly and incredibly welcoming. Everyone here can truly be himself without being scared or pretending to be someone else. People here are so different in a positive way, which make this place so unique and wonderful. I would also advise anyone coming here to enjoy every moment during the internship. Time flies and I can not believe that I’ve already finished my 3 months internship. I felt like I arrived yesterday. I’ve been talking about this feeling with a lot of volunteers here and everyone agreed on this. No matter what you are looking to gain during this internship, you will leave the project with a clear head and much more confidence in your daily life than you had before. Sharing the same house with 20 people in the middle of a reserve is an incredible feeling. Here, I’ve reconnected myself with nature, with the world, and with humanity. You can not have a bad day during your time here, as everyone’s happiness and optimism will always cheer you up, even during your difficult moments. Meeting new people from different nationalities were also one of the greatest part of the project .

Everyone here came with different cultures and different stories, but also with different reasons for being here. For example, I met many volunteers and staff members studying the same subject as I did, and which are also looking forward to doing a career in the wildlife conservation. My social network is now broader and much more meaningful for my future plan. I also met volunteers studying or having jobs not related at all to animals conservation, such as math, fashion or chemistry. However, everyone here shared a common passion which is the wildlife, and everyone was always keen to teach or learn about it. What I learned the most about myself during my time here, is that I want to dedicate my life working with African wildlife. I’ve also learned what is really important in life, such as making the difference between what I need and what I want. Through basic living,

I’ve learned to appreciate what really matters in life. When I came to Limpopo for the first time, my knowledge about the bush was poor. Through my 3 months internship, I have improved so much in terms of wildlife knowledge, but I’ve also improved my confidence. I can not wait to come back here next summer. I made friends from all around the world, and I am very excited to come to visit them when I will have time. One of the main beliefs of the project is to make a difference in the field, which means that we were not only learning and working on the reserve but also outside the reserve, being involved in the community around Karongwe. During my time, I visited the local schools where I’ve spent time with the kids, playing football and teaching them about the environment. The kids were lovely, they wanted to learn as much as we wanted to teach them, and they gave me motivation and conviction in the path I’ve chosen. If I could have the chance, I would love to discover more of the project base in the world, like the Costa Rica wildlife program, or the Seychelles scuba diving. I believe so much in the project, which is to impact volunteers careers by helping local people in places where they need us the most. In September I will return to university in Glasgow, to finish my third year of university. I will then come back to Limpopo in June 2019 for another 3 months internship, this time as a staff member. I planned to lead my own research project through my next internship, which would both benefit the reserve, but also my studies. The results that I will collect in Limpopo will be used for my dissertation during my fourth year of university. Once my zoology degree completed, I am planning to return to South Africa, hopefully in the long term, where I will spend another year studying for my FGSAS through the Bushwise organisation. The project has given me the chance to project myself in the long term, and I feel like this internship has answered so many questions to my professional life. The project has given me conviction in the fact that, when united, we can truly make a difference in the world, with a lot of work but also by having a lot of fun.

Scientific Field Research and Techniques in South Africa


Thank you for this amazing experience

Thailand Coral Reef Research & Plastic Pollution and Conservation in Phang Nga

During my holidays I chose to go 3 weeks in Thailand including 2 in a “useful” way by being a volunteer in Phang Nga.

As a nature lover, I opted for the Conservation program, this experience allowed me to learn about the various species on which we work: green turtles, birds, butterflies, coral … but also, to make nice meetings with people with different life projects. The members on site are really passionate, listening, it was a pleasure to be with them and help them in their projects.

I think that beach cleaning has made me even more aware of my environmental impact and the really negative impact of plastic on our Earth.

And I also discovered the UN Sustainable Development Goals shared by the project, which I did not know and which gives hope for our future.

These 2 weeks were very rich in terms of learning, relational, discovery, today back in France I want to get involved and help the project to be known and I know that this project will be again a choice for my next vacation!

Thank you for this amazing experience.


Climate Change and Coral Bleaching in Fiji



Have you ever dived with a whale shark?

Mexico: Marine Conservation Project

I had no expectations! The only thing I did know, was that I would be living under very primitive conditions in a jungle and doing research diving. What’s not to like?

Basically, I came for the diving, but I left with so much more! I was really inspired by living and working closely with people from so many different cultures and backgrounds who all shared the same passion for protecting the environment.

We were diving twice a day, studying fish and corals, learning about aquatic life, spotting birds, collecting trash on the beach and working hard in order to make the base run smoothly.

The project staff taught me so much, they’re working so hard with such great passion.

Everybody on base was family, we shared everything, especially many great experiences.

I would like to encourage everybody to go help out, to save the coral reefs before it’s too late and we lose them forever!

Have you ever dived with a whale shark? Have you ever helped a baby turtle to safely reach the ocean? Have you ever tried to make a difference for the natural world surrounding us?

– It’s never too late and I’m sure they will gladly help you!

Marine Conservation Project in Mexico


One of the most rewarding experiences of my life

Mexico Marine Conservation Katelin

I can say without hesitation that the Mexico Marine Conservation was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The opportunity to work as a volunteer on a coral reef to survey and help maintain the overall reef system and knowing you are making a difference was such a satisfying aspect of my trip. The living arrangements were wonderful, we had our own personal chief Monday to Friday who lived in the village which meant that the food was usually a Mexican delicacy and sourced locally.

The village of Akumal was such a close-knit community and the project shared a strong bond with the locals. The staff went above and beyond for all the volunteers and I met friends I will have for a lifetime. I also learnt more in the 4 week program than I have in my 4 years at university studying marine science. My time in Akumal, Mexico was a time I will cherish forever and look forward to doing again in the very near future.

Marine Conservation Project in Mexico


Bioluminescent plankton at your feet

Fiji & Thailand: PADI Divemaster Internship

After spending 3 months on Caqalai, I honestly don’t know where to begin aside from saying the whole experience was unbelievable. Being able to wake up every morning to a beautiful sunrise on the beach and knowing that each day would mean another chance for me to make an impact on this world brought a sense of fulfillment I had never experienced before in my life. Even the training and tests were made incredible from the sheer patience and support from the knowledgeable staff, which even as a new diver made me feel confident and safe even when I was out of my comfort zone.

I got to see first hand how caring they were when my mother, who was a poor swimmer and very nervous to dive, was met with nothing but kindness. They were beyond flexible with their teaching methods, and would go so far as to taking their own free time to help her learn and feel comfortable even being in the water. All that effort truly helped make my Mom the confident AOW diver that she is today, and just goes to show how accommodating and willing to help the staff was no matter what the problem.

My favourite memory is hard to choose from. Even post-program I find myself scrolling through the hundreds of videos and photos I took while volunteering, and just reminiscing in the sheer joy I felt while living out those moments. Every dive made me feel like I had a purpose. We got to meet the community first hand and see the differences we made in their lives by collecting this research. It was beyond gratifying seeing how thankful and appreciative the community of Moturiki was to have us, and they never failed to welcome us into their homes. I truly felt that I was apart of something much bigger, and most importantly, apart of their family.

Some useful tips would be to really come with an open mind. The conditions are harsh, and the activities are physically demanding. But if you stay open to being put way out of your comfort zone and opening yourself up to growth and failure, you can meet some of the best people that you will ever know in your life, and have experiences you would have never imagined possible.

Who knows, you just might find yourself also dancing with your friends in the moonlight, while the bioluminescent plankton at your feet lights up the water like stars.

PADI Divemaster Internship in Fiji & Thailand



I loved every moment

Fiji: Climate Change and Coral Bleaching

I loved every moment of my time in Fiji I made many friends and made a impact in helping marine life. I loved diving that I still carry it on to date and the impact the coursed had on me has made me go to uni to get a degree in conservation to hopefully go back and work in Fiji to make a difference. I loved the way of life I had there and the whole experience was amazing I cant put it into words.

Climate Change and Coral Bleaching in Fiji


Stimulating and educationally motivating

Costa Rica: Wildlife Photography & Conservation Awareness

I had planned to visit and experience the famed wildlife of Costa Rica. Little did I know I embarked on a two and a half year long lasting adventure. I returned culturally enriched, with hundreds of amazing wildlife experiences, professional qualifications and a brighter future. The atmosphere in Jalova has been more stimulating and educationally motivating than any classroom I’ve ever been in. Opportunities to make a difference and take initiative rise with every new day in Jalova, synchronized with the sun. So much that I usually wished the long days would last even a little longer.

I honestly believe this is the best place in the world to submerse yourself in conservation science and sustainable community development. It doesn’t matter what background you have, the people in Jalova will find a way to uncover your skills and put them to use. Admitably, the base conditions are not always for the faint hearted, for me it added to its charm. I especially recommend the long term internship for highschool graduates preparing for their studies in university, but this is a great place to start for anyone aspiring a career in conservation science. Go to this place with an open mind and positive attitude and it will reward you in unmeasurable ways!

Wildlife Photography & Conservation Awareness in Costa Rica



Just do it!

Costa Rica: Bird Research and Conservation

Hi, my name is Berni. I’m from the UK and I have just returned from three months working on the Bird Research project at Jalova, Costa Rica.

Well, where do I begin??? … much I want to tell you.

I’ve always had an interest in wildlife but I will confess to being an ‘armchair’ enthusiast. I love watching anything wildlife related on TV, have a love of being outdoors and take an interest in conservation but have never actually done any conservation work before. My work involved helping children and young people with emotional difficulties, so doing wildlife conservation work was very different for me.

Circumstances within my work environment provided me with an opportunity to take some time out…. a gap year. So I decided to stop sitting in the armchair, get out there and do something about my conservation interest. I knew about Costa Rica’s diverse wildlife and, in terms of places I wanted to visit, it was right up there at the top of my bucket list.

I started to do some research into companies offering ecotourism and was overwhelmed by the choice! I’d heard that some organisations would quite happily take your money and not give you a genuine, worthwhile experience, and I wanted to make sure I would be working for an organisation which was credible and was making a real difference on environmental issues. So I contacted several organisations and asked lots of questions! And, for me, this project ticked all the boxes. After a lot of extensive research, I knew I’d found the organisation I wanted to work with.

The weeks leading up to my trip were busy. Flights; insurance; making sure I had all the right equipment… the list seemed endless, but finally the day arrived when I was ready to go. To say I was nervous was an understatement! But as soon as I was met by Vix, Amber and Ben at San Jose airport, I felt at ease and knew I would be well looked after. Some of the other volunteers and interns were also at the airport, and I met others when we arrived at the hostel in San Jose.

Then the following day, we were all transported to Jalova, which was going to be my home for the next three months. After a good night’s sleep, I was able to get used to my surroundings and I fell in love with Jalova straight away. Yes, the facilities are basic and not what I was used to at home; electricity is solar powered – Jalova is in the middle of a rainforest which meant that some days there was no sun – and therefore no power – so charging devices, and even lighting was limited to say the least; there was sufficient water to have a shower each day, but all other water came from the well. Still, base camp has such charm and I saw a multitude of wildlife within a few metres of my dorm. Oh, and did I mention that the beach (and the Caribbean) is only metres from the camp???

Very quickly after arriving at camp, the training began. As a mature traveller, it was several years since I’d done any studying and I felt as though I was never going to learn the names and characteristics of all the necessary birds, lizards, frogs and mammals. But the staff and other volunteers were so supportive. We would all study together and test each other on our knowledge. It seemed the staff’s motto of ‘we believe in you’ paid off and the studying, along with getting out in the field and seeing some of the species ‘in the flesh’ (which I did very soon after arriving at Jalova), helped me to pass the necessary tests.

As I’d signed up for the Wildlife programme, I became involved in all aspects of the project which was exactly what I wanted. Surveys were varied; – forest surveys, butterfly walks, night walks, nest checks, jag walk, jag cams, frog walks and bird boat. I loved going out on the bird boat – the canals which surround Jalova are absolutely stunning – so peaceful and calm, and we saw an abundance of birds and other wildlife (but be prepared to do lots of rowing!). But my favourites have to be nest check and night walk because that was where I had the opportunity to see turtles! For me, seeing these beautiful creatures in the flesh, after years of only seeing them from my armchair on TV, was beyond my wildest dreams! I got the opportunity to ‘work’ some green adult female turtles – this involved counting the eggs as she was laying them (what an experience!), measuring her, marking the nest and doing a body check. I can’t begin to describe the feeling I got the first time I did that. And then on nest check I saw baby leatherbacks making their way to the ocean – so many special memories that I will treasure forever.

Going to Jalova and working with the project has truly been a life-changing experience for me. Every single person I met was warm, friendly, accepting and kind, and we all shared a passion for helping the beautiful creatures we encountered. The staff could not have done more to make me feel welcome, accepted, and that I was truly making a difference to the work we were doing. Their belief in me has really boosted my confidence. I can’t thank them enough.

If you are thinking of doing some wildlife conservation and considering going to Jalova, my advice would be ‘just do it’.

Bird Research and Conservation in Costa Rica