What will I do on this project?
During your time at the Taricaya Ecological Reserve, you will:
- Conduct wildlife surveys to help us keep track of animals in the area
- Feed and care for animals at the rescue and rehabilitation centre
- Help preserve and protect freshwater turtles
- Expand your horizons with a jungle adventure
Your work will focus on the following areas:
You will help us keep a record of the various bird and animal species roaming around the reserve by doing surveys. Sometimes you will observe wildlife from viewing decks and walkways high up in the forest canopy. Other times, you will collect data from camera traps or scour the river banks for turtle nests.
We have identified almost 500 different species of bird alone in the reserve. You will also get to see incredible wildlife, such as various species of monkey, big cats, giant anteaters, and tapirs!
Thanks to our extensive research in the area, Taricaya Ecological Reserve is now known globally as a biodiversity hotspot. It has played host to international courses and famous film companies, from National Geographic to the BBC.
Care for animals at the rescue centre
The rescue and release programme at Taricaya has been running for 16 years. It was the very first of its kind in Peru. It is now recognised as one of the top rescue and rehab centres in Peru. All the animals in the centre require a lot of attention daily. You play a vital role in taking care of them. This includes feeding the animals, cleaning enclosures, draining and refilling pools, and assisting on-site vets when necessary.
We’ve had many successes over the years, such as releasing more than 5 groups of spider monkeys back into the wild. We have also rescued a number of spectacled bears from circuses and did the first ever relocation of a jaguar in Peru.
Preserve and protect freshwater turtles
Freshwater side-necked turtles are endemic to lakes and rivers throughout the Amazon. However, poachers steal their eggs and this has had a devastating effect on the population. To help, we run a relocation programme for turtle nests. We have built artificial beaches at Taricaya where they can hatch safely.
As a volunteer on a High School Special, you will arrive between June and August. This is the perfect time to help with the cleaning and preparation of artificial beaches. You will also get to spend some time searching for nests to transfer them to the artificial beaches for their incubation period.
The jungle adventure of a lifetime
This project offers you the unique opportunity to live in and explore a part of the Amazon jungle that few other people have had the privilege of seeing. What’s more, you’ll do this with others teenagers from all over the world and make new friends as you go along.
You will get to experience a bit more of the surrounding area during a weekend trip. This will typically entail a camping trip down river or a visit to Puerto Maldonado.
Who are our project partners?
Animal Defenders International (ADI) is an integral part of our projects to rescue and protect Spectacled and Andean bears. These bears are only found in South America and currently classified by CITES as highly endangered.
The organisation has been involved with several international animal rescues. They fund both the relocation and rehoming of circus lions, tigers, chimpanzees, and other animals. It has become a major force for animal protection, succeeding through its undercover investigations and securing legal protection for animals.
Where interns work
You’ll be based in the heart of the Peruvian rainforest at Taricaya Ecological Reserve. This piece of land is located in the Amazon jungle and home to an incredible array of animal, bird, insect and plant species that you might only have dreamed of encountering before.
Gigantic ancient trees rise up so high you can’t even see their tops, except when you’re right among the leaves on our canopy walkway. The walkway is the highest in South America. Enjoy spotting curious spider monkeys peeking through the branches and wake up to a chorus of chirps and squawks as the birds greet the day.
The reserve is owned and funded almost entirely by Projects Abroad, which makes us doubly proud of the great work you will help us do there. This is why volunteers - like you - are so vital to keeping the programme running.
Puerto Maldonado is the nearest town, about an hour’s boat ride away. This is where the airport is located and also where you will find shops, hotels, and internet access.
We set out the aims and objectives of our projects in documents called Management Plans. We use them to properly plan the work you’ll do. They also help us measure and evaluate our achievements and impact each year.
Ultimately, our Management Plans help us make our projects better. This in turn means you get to be part of something that makes a real impact where it’s needed. Read more about our Management Plans.
Measuring our impact
Every year, thousands of High School Special volunteers and interns actively make a difference around the world. During their time abroad, they contribute towards achieving long-term goals and make a long-lasting positive impact on the communities where they work.
We produce an annual High School Specials Impact Report, which documents some of these achievements. Find out more about the impact of these projects, and read the latest report.
Safety and staff support
Your safety and security is our prime concern. We have many procedures and systems to ensure you have all the extra support you need as a young person travelling abroad. Our Projects Abroad staff are there for you 24 hours a day during the week and over weekends to provide constant support and guidance. Our staff also make sure you feel comfortable and safe at your placement and accommodation. If you encounter any problems, they will be available to help at any time.
Find out more about safety and backup.
Meet the team in Peru
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