Tortoise Project Internship

Mauritian Wildlife Foundation

Vacoas, Africa

Job Type Unpaid
Salary Details N/A
Deadline Apr 12, 2020
Required Experience 0 - 1 years

Location: Ile aux Aigrettes and Round Island, Mauritius

Project overview

Giant tortoises were once common in Mauritius and became extinct in the mid-1800s.  The tortoises fulfilled an important role in the native ecosystem as browsers, grazers and seed dispersers. Many native and endemic plants have evolved with, and appear to be adapted to their presence and tortoises are thought to be an integral factor in sustaining habitat diversity.

Since 2004, the MWF has been using Aldabra giant tortoises as an ecological replacement for the extinct Mauritian species. The aim is to restore lost plant-tortoise interactions and help re-create a self-sustainable ecosystem. The project manages tortoises on two islands, namely Ile aux Aigrettes and Round Island. Hatchlings are collected from the breeding herd on Ile aux Aigrettes, reared in secure enclosures and then transferred to Round Island where they are initially held in quarantine and then released. All of the released tortoises are individually marked and are closely monitored on both islands, with data collected upon their distribution, movement, health and impact upon the vegetation. The use of tortoises as ecosystem engineers for re-wilding Mauritian islands has gained a lot of interest and the project works closely with MWF’s academic partners.

The tortoise project intern will be working closely with and reporting to the tortoise project staff in charge.

The main duties will include:

  • The handling, measurement and weighing of juvenile and adult tortoises (in nurseries and in the field) to determine body condition
  • To assist with PIT-tagging and notching for individual recognition
  • To collect/prepare food on a daily basis for enclosed juvenile tortoises and to ensure that they remain healthy
  • To conduct searches and quadrat surveys
  • To carry out accurate data collection and data entry
  • To assist in taking blood samples for disease screening, collect and analyse faecal samples for parasite detection and provide treatment and care when required
  • To support the management of facilities on Ile aux Aigrettes and Round Island for the care, housing and containment of tortoises
  • Assist, if requested by senior Islands Restoration staff, with research projects taking place


Applicants will need to:

  • Have at least a BSc in Biological Sciences
  • Have a minimum of one year’s experience in conservation and handling of animals
  • Be physically fit and able to stay focused on repetitive work carrying heavy loads on steep terrain in a hot and humid environment
  • Be able to stay on remote islands with limited facilities within small diverse teams
  • Be comfortable travelling by small boat in rough seas
  • Be ready to adapt to unforeseen circumstances with initiative and due care
  • Have good written and spoken English
  • Have a sound knowledge of spreadsheet applications and data management
  • Proficiency in the use of GPS devices, GIS software and program R preferred
  • Ideally have first aid certification, be able to swim and having a full clean driving license

We need the intern to commit for a six-month period from May/June 2020. They would be required to pay for their own return airfare and must have comprehensive insurance cover (including repatriation) for the duration of their stay. Basic accommodation and transport between MWF sites will be provided and the intern will need approximately £200 per month to cover their own costs for food (on and off the islands), socialising and personal items. Personal equipment needs are basic (eg work clothes, sturdy boots, sun protection, reliable watch, LED head torch, thin sleeping bag and/or bed sheet, mosquito net, mobile phone).


To apply: please send a CV (resume) and a covering letter (with the word ‘Tortoise’ followed by your surname and initials at the start of each file name), by email to: 

Closing date for applications: 12th April 2020. 

When you apply, please indicate that you are responding to the posting on Conservation Job Board.
Category Wildlife