Dolphin Research & Conservation Project in Zanzibar, Tanzania

Get directly involved in monitoring and researching marine conservation efforts in Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. Your work will include dolphin and dolphin-tourism monitoring, coral reef transects and data analysis. This will be carried out on small boats, in the water and with the local community. You'll live with other volunteers right on the beach in a small tropical village.

Kizimkazi is a small fishing village located in the Menai Bay Conservation Area (MBCA) south-west of Zanzibar. Menai Bay is home to a number of famous sea life, including different species of birds, fish, dolphins (including bottlenose dolphins and humpback dolphins). There are also humpack whales during the months of June to October. 
The dolphins, particularly the friendly bottlenose dolphins which are present during the whole year, have become a major tourist attraction. Tourists go out in fishing boats to see these dolphins, and often jump into the water to swim with them. Though friendly, the dolphins can sometimes be surrounded by up to 20 boats chasing after them, and this can cause them stress, particularly when they are feeding or nursing. 
The main focus of the African Impact marine conservation project will be to monitor the dolphins and human-dolphin interaction. 
Activities will include:
  • Monitoring the dolphins for various research purposes (i.e. behavior, feeding, daily habits, reaction to humans, numbers, photos of dolphin pods)
  • Monitoring tourist numbers (to get daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal figures)
  • Monitoring tourist-dolphin interaction
  • Research and monitoring of whales during whale season (June to October)
  • Research and monitoring of coral reefs
  • Monitoring of curio shell collection 
  • Teaching English to the local  tour guides
  • Help develop and maintain a local resource centre in Kizimkazi with information on dolphins, whales, sharks and other types of fish; the local marine eco-system and local marine conservation. This resource centre is for tourists, schools around the island, locals and future volunteers
  • Working with the Menai Bay Conservation Area office on various marine conservation and research projects
The information collected will feed into research, surveys and studies conducted by the academic and research institutions in Zanzibar. Our main project partners include the Kizimkazi Dolphin Tourism Association (KIDOTOA) and the Institute for Marine Science. This research is badly needed and some work has been done already but due to lack of resources and personnel there is still a lot to be done.Research to date has also usually been carried out on an ad hoc basis, and the African Impact project aims to provide consistency and continuity to this research.
The work carried out by volunteers will contribute greatly to work carried out on marine conservation in Zanzibar. For example, monitoring human-dolphin interaction is important as it will inform Government policies on how best to regulate this type of activity to ensure dolphins do not become too stressed, which could potentially lead to lower numbers of dolphins in the future in this part of the world.
Our Zanzibar contacts who will be responsible for overseeing and utilizing the data collection and analysis have been doing a lot of work on sustainable dolphin tourism in the area in collaboration with top researchers. The group also facilitated the opening of a local NGO known as the Kizimkazi Dolphin Tourism Association whose aim is also to ensure sustainable dolphin tourism. 
The rest of your time as a volunteer will be spent getting involved in helping the local community, doing things like beach cleans, coral reef surveys, etc), and in supporting local community groups such as local tour guides and local youth initiatives. 

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