citizen science and bat conservation

Bat Conservation in Cuba- next trips: December 15-23 2017.


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: un-air conditioned 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 (flying into Havana), Accommodation (a locally owned hostel with a pool!), 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), American and Canadian clients get 50% off at the online AEI IceBreaker store, Donation to Placement Partner, AEI Travel Manual, Emergency support while at Placement, and Carbon credits to offset 3 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Are you thinking of fundraising for a portion, or all your fees? Many of our clients have been very successful with their fundraising efforts. To learn more about their successful fundraising projects and see how you can fund raise for your experience, please visit our fundraising page!

Excludes: Flights, Entry visa costs, International and domestic airport taxes, Travel insurance, Immunizations and medications. Note: The rabies vaccine is required for this Experience. The average cost is $600- $1000 in North America.

Accommodation: You will be staying in a locally owned and run hostel managed by a local Cuban family. Accommodation is simple but clean and includes meals. Lunches, and some dinners, will be provided while at the field research sites. AEI believes that local accommodation offers you the best experience during your time in Cuba by allowing you to save money, while providing you with an easy way to integrate into Cuban culture. Are you nervous about travel and your safety? It's okay, travelling and volunteering can be overwhelming, that is why we exist! To help you travel safe, volunteer smartly and get back home in one piece. To read more about how we help you stay safe, please read our Guide to Safety.

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. American volunteers should apply at least three months in advance to allow for visa and permit processing time.

Classification of Placement: Medical: Entry. Standard: Entry and Advanced.

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OAVTThis is an official pre-approved OAVT Partnership. All participants are eligible for a minimum of 5 Continuing Education credits.
Trip Cost
1 week experiences
December 2016 or May 2017 $ 2275
Groups of 5 or more: 10% off individual fees.