When people think of the Caribbean, vacation getaway comes to mind. Varadero, a peninsula located on the north side of Cuba, is a popular tourist destination, with its warm climate and 18 kilometers of sandy beaches. Tourism has been very important for the economics of Cuba, but has also resulted in habitat destruction, and hotel development. Many animals are affected by this loss of habitat, including several species of bats. Our partner organization in Cuba focuses its scientific work on bat conservation and needs your help.
In Cuba there are approximately 30 000 caves, and around 30 species of bats. Varahicacos is the protected ecological reserve open for ecotourism on Varadero. The few caves here are home to the 5 species of bats of Varadero. Our partner is involved in several scientific studies of the bats to better understand their numbers, distribution, behaviour and biology and how the bat populations are affected by habitat loss, drought, disease and other stressors. Field research is conducted at the caves in Varadero, along with a few others in the province of Matanzas. Bats are captured in nets, examined, tagged and measured before being released. Working on an ecological reserve also provides the opportunity to educate the public about bats, and wildlife conservation.
This week-long Experience will be a hands-on introduction to field research. This means you will be collecting data in the bat's environment: unairconditioned caves and forests. You will learn proper handling and identification techniques and have the opportunity to set up equipment in the field that is commonly used to capture bats. You will also work in caves not accessible to the public which will give you the opportunity to see other species, and compare undisturbed bat populations to those located in Varadero. Enjoy Cuba's beautiful climate, friendly people and spectacular wildlife while helping with bat conservation work and learning important field research skills.
Please note: If you are an American citizen please contact AEI to discuss the possibility of participating in this Experience.
Includes: Airport pick up and drop off (at closest airport), Accommodation, Meals, Transportation to and from research sites, On-site training, Bird-watching Nature Tour, $10 Credit in our Zazzle store (towards the purchase of recycled water bottles, reusable bags, etc), Donation to Placement Partner, AEI Travel Manual, Emergency support while at Placement, and Carbon credits to offset 3 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
Excludes: Flights, Entry visa costs, International and domestic airport taxes, Travel insurance, Immunizations and medications.
Accommodation: The group will be staying at a beach-side hotel right in Varadero. Rooms are shared with one other volunteer (of the same gender). Accommodation is simple but clean and the hotel includes a pool and meals. Lunches, and some dinners, will be provided while at the field research sites.
Volunteer Activities: Activities include training in chiroptology and bat identification, netting and trapping methods and bat handling; assisting with mist netting, harp trapping and hand netting of bats; assisting with the handling of bats; collecting of data.
Note: This is a field placement which means at times you will be working in challenging environments with bugs, dark caves, tropical temperatures and lots of guano! While the walks to or through the caves are relatively easy, terrain can be rough and every now and then you will have to crawl on your hands and knees. The caves are dusty which may be a concern for volunteers with asthma or other respiratory problems. Proof of pre-exposure rabies immunization or protective rabies antibody titre is a requirement.
This week-long expedition runs two times a year. Space is limited to 20 volunteers per expedition so be sure to apply well in advance.
Classification of Placement: Medical: Entry. Standard: Entry and Advanced.
1 week experiences
Price (IN CANADIAN DOLLARS)
|May 3 – May 10, 2013||$ 1555|
|1 week in December 2013||$ 1555|
|Groups of 5 or more:||10% off individual fees.|