Work Experience: Develop a Wildlife Research Centre in Transylvania

14+ days
Category:
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  • Ben Porter (105)
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The work placement in Transylvania melds wildlife, culture, and community service components to support local efforts toward biodiversity conservation. You will gain valuable work experience in wildlife monitoring & conservation, setting up a social enterprise, and sustainable agriculture.

Volunteers will work alongside experts and local guides to help develop the Angofa Wildlife Centre into the prime destination for wildlife tourism, conservation, and research in Transylvania. This site has the potential to become a significant source of funding to protect local ecosystems of ancient oaks that support bears, deer, boars, and wolves in Europe’s last great wilderness and species-rich flower meadows. Throughout each week, groups will also have the opportunity to visit key cultural sites or participate in wildlife viewing opportunities with naturalists.

Internships in Angofa run for 2-8 weeks and can be combined with work experience opportunities at our Krka Valley (terrestrial) or Silba Island (marine) sites in Croatia.

Who is this for?

This work placement is designed for people interested in gaining field experience in conservation and sustainable business while generating a positive impact on a rural economy. It is a perfect opportunity for anyone looking to break into this field or explore a career switch.

There are no prerequisites for participation although participants should be 18 by the time of travel.

Accommodation

All volunteers will be based at the Angofa Wildlife Centre, a rustic Saxon homestead located just fifteen minutes from the center of Sighisoara. Accommodation will be in tents or hostel-style rooms. All costs for room & full board (3 meals/day) are included in the weekly price.

How to Book

Please indicate the number of weeks, start date, and any additional courses in the form above. You must pay the flat deposit fee of €100 to hold your place. We will contact you with a full invoice once we receive your deposit confirmation. Discounts will be applied to bookings longer than two weeks. 

Important: Covid-19 Statement

We are constantly analyzing the Covid-19 situation on the ground in Romania with the help of our local partners. We anticipate that Romania will be open to placements from European countries by 1 August 2020, but we strongly encourage our participants not to purchase any flights prior to confirmation that they will be able to arrive in Romania without being required to quarantine for 14 days.

If quarantine is still required for visitors to Romania on your start date, we will provide a full refund to participants affected or change your start date free of charge. Please keep track of any changes to quarantine measures approaching your start date and contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

The Angofa Wildlife Centre is located 15 minutes outside of the city on a large, rural farm. Participants will be accommodated in tents to promote social distancing and will be provided with facilities for proper hygiene, including running water at the Centre. The Centre will be cleaned and ventilated several times per week to avoid contagion risk and most group activities will be performed outdoors.

Activities at the Angofa Centre

The weekly activities for this internship will consist of fieldwork that ranges from field research to agriculture and trail building to help develop infrastructure for ecotourism based out of the Angofa Centre. Working alongside local experts and naturalists, volunteers will learn career-building skills such as biodiversity survey methodology, ecotourism development, and sustainable agriculture practices.

Each week is broken into three main focus areas: Building, Wildlife, and Agriculture/Saxon Traditions. The following are some of the activities that may be available to volunteers at the Angofa Wildlife Centre in a given week. Note: not all of these activities will be available each week and will vary based on each participants’ booked weeks.

Building Infrastructure

  1. Creating bike trails – Several villages in Transylvania are connected with mountain biking trails that attract thousands of tourists each summer. These paths allow for day trips between villages or longer trips, with options to stay in guesthouses along the way. This project involves mapping, cleaning, and creating signs for the bike path that connects the Angofa Wildlife Centre with the main Transylvanian route to tap into the main tourist circuit.
  2. Building nature paths – The Angofa Wildlife Centre provides opportunities for groups to join guided or self-guided tours through the nearby meadows and forests. There is a need to build shorter trails with signs and guides to wildlife viewing opportunities around the center. This work involves clearing, mapping, and marking the trails around the Centre for tourist use and wildlife viewing opportunities.
  3. Improving Angofa Centre – The Angofa Centre is a new facility and requires constant upkeep given its rural location. This work involves clearing shrubs, cutting lawns, and whitewashing walls.

Monitoring Wildlife

  1. Biodiversity & “bio-spots” mapping – mapping the general biodiversity gives us a picture of local biodiversity that can be used in promoting nature tourism and is a base for future conservation projects. Defining “bio-spots”, meaning beautiful spots that have high biodiversity surroundings also provides new tourist spots where they can enjoy nature and also use as educational spots if there were info boards.
  2. Bird point counts – Point counts provide us with key information about local species abundance and diversity to help in biodiversity monitoring. Volunteers will accompany skilled ornithologists during early morning walks to register species by call and sight to aid in conservation efforts.
  3. Bear tracking and viewing – Romania is one of Europe’s last great bear habitats. Volunteers will join local hunters to track bears at dusk and observe them in their natural habitat without disturbing the animals. Camera traps may also be used to track these animals and other mammals in the forest, a great skill for conservation work in the future.
  4. Creating ID guides/maps – The Centre will serve as a hub for wildlife conservation and education in the region and therefore must provide ample information about the species that can be seen surrounding the area. These guides may include common butterflies, birds, mammals, and other animals of tourist interest, along with scientific information about each species. It is also important to create maps of the area to help tourists and locals find the best areas for viewing wildlife and learning about its importance.

Agriculture & Saxon Traditions

  1. Angofa farm work – Transylvania’s agricultural systems date back to Medieval times and have helped preserve the region’s wildlife. Even today, farmers here use very few pesticides and use natural methods for protecting crops, like inviting white storks and owls into their fields to eat pests. Farmers also cut hay very late in the season, allowing a diversity of wildflowers to germinate and feed pollinators that in turn help grow produce. The Angofa Centre is adjacent to a working Saxon farm where volunteers will help with daily tasks such as milking, weeding, planting, and caring for cattle.
  2. Gradinile Malancrav – Malancrav Gardens are a fully-sustainable, traditional Saxon farm growing crops near the edge of ancient oak forests in ways that work with wildlife rather than against them. Volunteers have the opportunity to work at the farm to help the farmers protect Saxon traditional agriculture.
  3. Foraging in ancient forests – The forests surrounding Transylvania’s villages are full of mushrooms, berries, and grasses that can be used for medicines and food. Learn about native species and help gather plants to prepare a traditional dinner alongside local chefs at the Angofa Centre.
  4. Saxon villages – Towns like Sighisoara, Saschiz, and Viscri have been recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage sites for Saxon traditions and architecture. Walk the ancient cobblestoned streets, learn about fortified churches and the history of the region, and enjoy traditional food. Volunteers will also help share information and flyers about the Angofa Centre to share conservation opportunities with local communities. There may also be opportunities to learn about local crafts (like pottery making) and traditional jams, chutneys, and preserves.

Dates and Prices

How to Book: Please indicate the number of weeks, start date, and any additional courses in the form above. You must pay the flat deposit fee of €100 to hold your place. We will contact you with a full invoice once we receive your deposit confirmation. Discounts will be applied to bookings longer than two weeks. 

The expeditions start at Cluj Napoca airport at 2 pm on Saturday and finish at the same point at 12 noon on your final Saturday.  Transfers from the airport to the Angofa Wildlife Centre are included, but the return journey is not included in the price since many people will want to continue traveling.

You are responsible for booking your own flights to Cluj-Napoca and there are low-cost airline flights that coincide with the start times with Ryanair and Wizz Air.  Before booking your flights please check that the quarantine requirements for Transylvania for your nationality and departure country have been lifted.

The Angofa Wildlife Centre is open from Saturday 8 August 2020  to Saturday 31 October 2020.  The Centre will re-open on Saturday 3 April 2021 and will close again on Saturday 5 June 2021 in time to prepare for the extensive Opwall research program.  The Centre re-opens in late summer on Saturday 14 August 2021 until Saturday 30 October 2021.

Prices

The prices below include a transfer from Cluj-Napoca airport to the Angofa Wildlife Centre, all food and accommodation for the stay, and participation in all the activities listed.

Note: the price listed in the booking form is not necessarily the weekly price of your trip. You will be directed to pay a flat deposit fee (€100) via our website and will later receive an invoice to your email that corresponds to the pricing below. Discounts on the quoted weekly rate will apply for longer stays, as shown below.

Length in weeks Cost per week in € Total cost in €
2 490 980
3 465 1395
4 440 1760
5 420 2100
6 400 2400
7 390 2730
8 380 3040

FAQs

What happens if there is a quarantine in effect by the time of my trip?
Your trip will be canceled and you will be given a full refund or offered a later date.  Note: do not book your flights until the information provided by the Romanian authorities indicate there will be no quarantine requirements for your nationality and departure country.

Can I bring a friend? Is there a referral program?
Yes, we encourage our volunteers to book in groups! For every friend you refer who pays their deposit, you and your friend receive a discount of €5 off the final price. If you are referring a friend, please ensure you and your friend(s) email us with the name of the person you are referring/who referred you at info@friendsofwallacea.com so we can register the discount when we send your final invoice.

What is involved at each of the sites?
See the activities under the Itinerary tab above. Please note that while all of these activities will be completed over the opening periods for the centre, not all of them happen each week.

Do I need to have any previous experience to participate in the internship?
No, we are looking for people who are enthusiastic and able to mix socially with people from a wide range of backgrounds and with differing experiences.

Can I stay on in the country after my internship is over?
Yes but please check any entry requirements for your nationality to Romania which may restrict the total number of days you can spend in-country. Many students will use the opportunity of being in the Carpathian Mountains to do a bit of traveling afterward before flying home.

Can I switch between sites? What about between Romania and Croatia?
In Croatia, you can swap between the Krka Valley and Silba Island sites as long as you spend a minimum of 2 weeks at each site.  The transfers are organized for you as part of the bookings.  Moving between countries such as Croatia to Transylvania to do these placements is a lot more difficult and should really be done as separate bookings with a few days traveling in between.

How long are the internships? What is the difference between staying for two weeks and staying for 8 weeks?

You can choose, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 weeks and the price per week reduces the longer you stay at the center.

What is the difference between Friends of Wallacea and Operation Wallacea?

Operation Wallacea has been established for 25 years and is designed to fund academics to complete annual biodiversity surveys in a range of sites around the world. Funding comes from tuition fees paid by students who have an immersive experience in biodiversity research both at terrestrial and marine sites.

Opwall students provide research assistance to the 200+ academics and 90 PhD students that have been funded by the program and help with producing high-quality data that leads to publications in peer-reviewed journals (more than 500 papers in just the last few years).

Friends of Wallacea (FOW) was set up to work with the Opwall local partners to attract visitors outside the Opwall season and provide them with some additional year-round income to support conservation efforts.  By joining the FOW internship program, you will be helping the sites become established as viable tourism and biodiversity conservation centers outside the Opwall season.  The experience will not be the same as Opwall; there will be some elements of wildlife monitoring although not as extensive as on the Opwall programs, but you will also be getting experience in developing the opportunities for visitors and wildlife sightings.

Price:490.00

Book the tour

 Weeks or Number of Tickets  × 490.00
Total = 980.00
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