Today we speak to Charlie Cooper, who is heading out to our Madagascar Wildlife Conservation Adventure. As usual, we asked her about what made her choose the project, what she's looking forward to and how she has prepared. We hope you have a great time Charlie!
Frontier: Why did you choose the Madagascar Wildlife Conservation Adventure Project?
Charlie: I've always been interested in wildlife since a young age, it just seemed right for me to go to Madagascar when I decided I was going to go on my gap year. I actually decided I wanted to go to Madagascar after reading an article in a wildlife magazine at the dentist...
Frontier: What do you hope to gain or achieve during your time abroad on the project?
Charlie: I'm hoping to learn a lot about the species they have in Madagascar as well as make a lot of new friends who also share the same interests as me. As well as seeing some amazing sights.
Frontier: You’ll be carrying out important conservation work out on the project, what first sparked your interest in conservation and why do you think conservation is so important in today’s world?
Charlie: With already around 80% of Madagascar’s forest cut down for farming it is so important that we help with the conservation of animals that are affected by this. If we as a group don't help then many of the beautiful species that we see there will become extinct, and with many of them only found in Madagascar. People just don't seem to actually realise how much of the forest there has been destroyed.
Frontier: Are you interested in working in the conservation sector in the future? Would you say doing a project like this one is a good way to broaden your work experience and help your future career path?
Charlie: I am going to university to study Zoology so I am very interested in conservation. This experience has undoubtedly helped me get a place at my chosen university. Going to Madagascar to help with conservation isn't something that will always pop up in someone’s CV, it definitely helped me stand out from a lot of other applicants!
Frontier: Are you looking forward to meeting the other volunteers out there?
Charlie: Yes! We're all chatting on Facebook and discussing our flights and plans for when we get there! So exciting to hear about everyone else's preparations and to know they're in the same position as you when you're stressing about it all.
Frontier: What’s your favourite holiday memory?
Charlie: Probably skiing in America in Yellowstone, we came across a huge white tailed deer and a wolf as well as having a 3 day snowstorm. Not your average skiing holiday.
Frontier: Besides Madagascar where else in the world would you like to travel in the future?
Charlie: I would LOVE to go to the Galapagos Islands. My friend just recently returned from travelling there and said it had incredible wildlife! If not there then Borneo.
Frontier: What do you think will be the most important item in your backpack?
Charlie: My camera! I cannot wait to take thousands of pictures to show everyone until they get bored of seeing them.
Frontier: Will you be taking any music or good books along with you?
Charlie: I will be bringing my iPod and hopefully a Kindle too so lots of music and lots of books to read if I get the time!
Frontier: Will you be doing any fundraising activities to fund your trip and if so what have you got planned?
Charlie: I’ve been working basically full time since the beginning of February to raise the money myself for this trip. I wanted to earn the money myself as it’s my trip, and I want to be able to say I earned it completely myself on my own terms.
Frontier: Have you volunteered before, if so, what projects have you done?
Charlie: I haven't gone abroad to volunteer or any trips like this, I usually run Race for Life each year when I get the opportunity.
Frontier: Has it been difficult planning and prepping for your trip?
Charlie: It’s been difficult juggling things like vaccinations, breaking in boots and things like that. But now it’s getting closer to the actual trip I'm getting more and more nervous I'm going to forget something important like changing money or sunscreen. I can be forgetful about things like that sometimes, thank goodness there’s a kit list!
Frontier: What animal are you looking forward to seeing the most?
Charlie: I would love to see a Sifaka lemur! If not that then a Madagscar Bee Eater, they have such beautiful feathers.
Frontier: What do you think you’ll miss the most? Are you planning on bring any home comforts with you to Madagascar?
Charlie: I think I'm going to miss a lot of things! Marmite. Coca cola. Personal hygiene the most though probably. I'm bringing some home cooked sauces for the rice and beans which is the closest I can think of which is a home comfort!
By Maria Sowter