Maybe, this is the first time you decide to become a sea turtle volunteer. Or, perhaps you are a seasoned volunteer with multiple turtle trips under your belt. Or, maybe…
Hopefully, some of you know Ecoteer Travel with a Cause? Or may have volunteered or interned with Ecoteer in the past. For those who don’t, this blog will introduce you to Ecoteer Travel with a Cause, a unique ecotourism brand. If you have been thinking of volunteering or traveling for a while, but still can’t make up your mind, why not give this a read?
Ecoteer was founded in 2005 by Daniel Quilter, a marine biologist, after his life-changing volunteering experience in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. During his travel, he recognised that many conservation projects frequently struggle with financial and manpower support. With this in mind, Ecoteer Travel with a cause was established to develop meaningful ecotourism experiences so conservation projects can continue and improve their impactful work in Malaysia and Indonesia. At present, Ecoteer supports more than 6 research and conservation projects with two simple aims:
- To provide young and aspiring conservationists and volunteers with meaningful experiences, opportunities to learn, and the chance to make a difference.
- To give back to host communities and help protect the environment which surrounds them.
And it was successful in doing so:
- Ecoteer currently offers education and alternative sources of income for the local communities – Local participants receive up to 35% of volunteer fees for services rendered.
- All Ecoteer projects are self-sustainable, which are funded by voluntourism, school groups and corporate programmes.
- Ecoteer played a significant role in developing the Perhentian Islands into a top ecotourism destination. (At Perhentian Islands, Ecoteer has become a household name.)
- Ecoteer implements the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation’s Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria for improving its services and sustainable tourism.
While Ecoteer has currently morphed into FuzeEcoteer, the brand is still a favourite among students, aspiring conservationists and career breakers looking for work experience in the ecotourism, environmental awareness and conservation sectors. Furthermore, Ecoteer has supported many independent grassroots organisations in over 50 countries.
At present, Ecoteer offers several volunteering options:
The Perhentian Turtle Project (PTP) focuses on research and conservation of green turtles (nesting and grazing) in the Perhentian Islands. They work closely with the local Department of Fisheries to reduce illegal harvesting of turtle eggs from protected beaches. Here, volunteers will get opportunities to :
- Kayak and freediving to conduct turtle photo-identification surveys at Teluk Pauh.
- Manage the local turtle hatchery and conduct night patrols at Tiga Ruang for research and conservation.
- Respond to turtle strandings and deaths around Perhentian waters to determine the cause and threats to the island population.
The Perhentian Marine Research Station (PMRS) is a small scale research and conservation station, which focuses on coral reef conservation and liaising with dive shops and resorts to introduce waste management initiatives around the islands. Here, volunteers will get opportunities to :
- Become an open-water and/or advanced open-water diver while helping with the research aspects of the project.
- Learn the project’s method of developing artificial reefs and coral nurseries, which involves transplanting coral fragments on to specifically designed bottle reefs.
- Train using the Reef Check surveying methodology to help PMRS with their ongoing monitoring of the coral reef health.
The Malayan Rainforest Station (MRS) focuses its initiatives for research and conservation of the local wildlife and raising awareness. MRS also works to build partnerships and research collaborations with universities and government stakeholders. Moreover, it also supports local communities to empower them with awareness, knowledge and skills to be the forest guardians. Here, volunteers will get opportunities to:
- Conduct anti-poaching patrols to collect data on human encroachment activities and animal signs found.
- Learn bushcraft skills from the Bateq tribe, and experience camping with them in the rainforest.
- Assist MRS staff with teaching the Bateq kids basic English, Maths and Science.
The Wildlife Rescue Centre (WRC) accepts and cares for rescued animals confiscated from illegal ownership under the Protected Wildlife Law in Indonesia. More importantly, WRC helps to educate the local community about environmental protection and animal welfare. Here, volunteers will get opportunities to:
- Experience what it’s like working at WRC by shadowing different animal keepers, and helping with animal husbandry, e.g., enclosure cleaning, food preparation, feeding, animal enrichment activities, etc.
- Assist WRC staff with organising interactive games and learning sessions to encourage the children, local youth, and adults to learn English.
- Engage in different cultural activities such as a traditionalgamelan (music) class,batik (wax art) class, traditional dances and performances.
While the Ecoteer brand is no more, all of its projects still operate as normal and continue with their research and conservation efforts under FuzeEcoteer (FE). And we are proud to work alongside FE and support its projects for a meaningful volunteering and responsible travel experiences.