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Mexico - Jaguar Conservation in the Yucatan Peninsula

Come celebrate the natural beauty of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Volunteer to restore the natural environment by collecting data on endangered jaguars and pumas. Learn about the many species of birds as you monitor them and collect data. Aid in the reforestation of the area so you can leave the Yucatan Peninsula even more beautiful then you found it.



Fast Facts

Location of ProjectQuintana Roo, Mexico
Project CostsUS$1690 for 11 days, US$250 for each extra week
Project Length11 days, 18 days, or 25 days
Arrival AirportCancun International Airport
Volunteer WorkWildlife monitoring, conservation, and research
Number of Participants12 international volunteers
Age18 - 70

What's Included

AccommodationShared rooms
Food3 meals a day provided
SupportLocal in-country team and 24 hour emergency support
Airport TransfersVolunteers are transported to Cancun upon departure
Pre-Departure Kit Full project details will be sent following registration
Orientation All necessary training and introductions are provided upon arrival

What's Not Included

Flights, visa (if necessary), travel and health insurance, personal expenses, transportation from airport to meeting point upon arrival (about US$5)


The Yucatan Peninsula is a region in Mexico, steeped in great natural beauty and ancient history. The Yucatan Peninsula is considered to be in the outer tropics and is home to hundreds of species of mammals, birds and other wildlife. Gorgeous white sandy beaches and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico surround the coastline.

The Yucatan Peninsula was home to the Mayan people until the Spanish conquered Mexico in the 16th century.  Still today you can visit the ancient ruins of the Mayan people in various places throughout the peninsula. This project is located in the northeastern part of the peninsula, close to Caribbean Sea and the Mayan Ruins in Tulum. 


About the Project

The rapid growth of tourism in the Yucatan Peninsula has brought new development and progress to the region. While the Yucatan Peninsula has become a major tourist destination with mega resorts dotting the coastline the region has also experienced a rapid decrease in the natural habitat of the wildlife native to the area. This project aims to expend the knowledge of local biodiversity with the goal of influencing conservation procedures and administration of the region. 

This project has a heavy research component and volunteers need to be prepared to work hard, studying the plant and animal species, and trekking through wetlands and forests. On this project participants will be involved in work on three research programs, monitoring the endangered jaguar, enhancing the registry of local and migratory bird species, and reforestation of areas that suffered forest fire.

Jaguar monitoring: Volunteers will install and repair cameras that record the behavior of animals. These cameras allow us to estimate the population of jaguars in the area, as well as establish sex and record mating behavior. Determining the quantity of prey in the region is also performed using these cameras.

Registry of local and migratory birds: Using both visual and auditory methods as well as setting up mist nets, volunteers will enhance the list of local birds in the area as well as establish the survival rates of migratory birds in the winter.

Reforestation: Participants will work to reestablish the native vegetation after forest fires. Seeds will be collected from mature plants species and placed in a protected area to germinate. Once the young tree is strong enough it will be replanted in the affected area. This is critical in allowing the environment to recover and reestablish the natural habitat of countless species.  

The data that our volunteers here collect and the work done on this project is vital in developing strategies to protect the eco system and the animals that live in it. 


Volunteer Work and Contribution

It is required that you are in good physical condition, as working on this project will include walking several kilometers on jungle paths.  As well, you are expected to come with some prior knowledge of the local flora and fauna, including knowledge of local wildlife, bird songs, and the identification of bird species. Your duties as a volunteer may include:

  • Installation and maintenance of cameras used to monitor animal behavior
  • Bird monitoring using visual and auditory methods
  • Installation of mist nets
  • Data collection on endangered species
  • Tree planting
  • Trail maintenance

You will work Monday through Friday with weekends off.

This is an intensive research based project and you must be ready to work hard as the data you collect will be used to inform new policy. Also please bear in mind that it is highly unlikely that you will see a jaguar while working on the project. Jaguars are nocturnal and endangered. While the jaguars are captured by the cameras you will install, seeing one in the flesh is extremely rare.


Living Arrangements

Accommodations: volunteers stay in shared rooms with bunk beds. There are shared bathrooms. Sheets and mosquito nets are provided. 

Food: healthy, basic, traditional Mexican food is provided. Meals are prepared with meat but vegetarian options can be made available, please inform the staff in advance if you would life vegetarian meals. 

Internet: there is no phone or internet signal while at the project. All communication is done via radio. There are internet cafes in Cancun about 35km away from the project location. There is electricity 24 hours a day.  

Laundry: please bring laundry soap to wash your clothes by hand while on the project.


Travel Highlights

The Yucatan Peninsula is full of amazing travel and adventure opportunities. From the beautiful waters and white sandy beaches, to the astounding untouched Mayan ruins, scuba diving in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest reef in the world, or snorkel with whale sharks, the opportunities are endless. 

From where the project location in the northeaster part of the peninsula, you can easily access and day trip to relax on the white sandy beaches and swim in the warm turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Also the city of Cancun is only 35km away and easily accessible with public buses that run between all major towns. For more adventurous weekend trips the famous Mayan ruins in Tulum or Coba are only 5 hours. 

For those who are interested in sea life the options for snorkeling and scuba diving are numerous. Snorkel with varying sized turtles in Akumal Bay or with whale sharks, the largest fish in the world, that migrate up near Cozumel between June and September.  Scuba dive in one of the worlds top ten dive sites in Cozumel. For a totally different experience, snorkel or dive in the cenotes of the Yucatan, a unique system of underground rivers that flow beneath the entire peninsula.

Visit Merida, the cultural capital of the Yucatan, boasting many museums, galleries, restaurants and shops. Merida is also home to one of the best known and well restored Mayan ruin sites, Chichen Itza, which has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World". Merida enjoys one of Mexico's largest historic centers and contains beautiful old colonial buildings and the oldest cathedrals on the continent.  

If you have the time traveling throughout the rest of Mexico offers a variety of experiences. Surfing on the pacific coast in Puerto Escondido one of the worlds best surf beaches.  Or visit the colonial town of Oaxaca on the pacific coast to see some of the countries most spectacular architecture and home to many archeological sites including the Zapotec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For those wishing for some city life a visit to the ever bustling Mexico city is a must.


Minimum Requirements

  • Minimum age 18 years old
  • Good level of physical fitness
  • Basic Spanish recommended but not required
  • Ability to work in a team
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