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Otter Conservation | Florianópolis, Brazil

More photos from this internship may be found here.

This Brazilian NGO is located in a rural area on the tranquil island of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil.  Santa Catarina is ranked one of Brazil’s most beautiful places, known for its gorgeous beaches (of which there are over 40), dense jungle, and the city of Florianopolis.

Interns will support the mission of this organization by:

  • providing care and possibly enrichment for otters and other animals that cannot be released into the wild
  • participating in field expeditions to locations around the island to collect data used to assess the numbers and health of otters in the wild
  • assisting with projects to further improve the site, such as improving or constructing animal enclosures or aspects of the site itself

 Interns may also participate in:

  • helping support new “eco-volunteers”
  • assisting with education and outreach efforts to visitors and the local community
  • other side projects that are of benefit to the host site.

Internship Start Dates:

  • Flexible start dates at the beginning of each academic term

Duration of Internship:

  • 10 weeks, minimum

Our partner in Brazil is a non-governmental organization has been in operation for over 15 years.  Its mission is the maintenance of biodiversity and conservation of ecosystems and endangered species through research and social mobilization as a way to improve the quality of life of communities and leave a lasting positive legacy for future generations. 

This organization seeks to conserve and research the neotropical otter and its ecology by:

  • caring for animals that cannot be released back into the wild
  • providing conservation tourism and educational opportunities to visitors from the local community and abroad
  • collecting field data on local otter populations to assess their numbers and health

This site has a licensed Scientific Breeding Sanctuary, which houses the orphans of otters that cannot be released back into the wild.

The site itself is rural and amenities are comfortable though basic.  The site is continually building and developing their operation, which allows interns opportunities to see how projects evolve over time.

Most of the staff is Brazilian, however, the site as a whole is international and multi-lingual as there are eco-volunteers from around the world staying for varying lengths of time.

This host site is primarily oriented to working with otters, though they do have several other species including iraras, raccoons, and monkeys.  Interns are likely to gain experience working with many or all of the resident animal species.

A typical day will include morning and late afternoon husbandry tasks, with several hours in between during which activities may vary significantly.  Such activities may include enrichment, field expeditions, education and outreach, and various projects related to improving the site or the animal enclosures.  Interns may find that as they build relationships with the staff and demonstrate their competency, enthusiasm, and ability to take initiative and work autonomously, they may have opportunities to take on additional independent projects with the potential to benefit the site.

Animal Husbandry:

Interns participate in animal husbandry tasks at the host site on a daily basis. Typical tasks include:

  • cutting up and weighing food
  • assisting with feeding the animals
  • cleaning the kitchen after meal prep
  • cleaning enclosures

Enrichment:

Interns may work with behavioral enrichment, which includes as generating ideas for and creating novel objects like the following:

  • A uniquely fashioned toy with food inside, designed to challenge the animal to figure out how to solve the puzzle and get to the food.
  • Contributing to building new structures for animals to explore.

Field Expeditions:

Interns participate in expeditions approximately once or twice every week, there is an expedition to a different location, most of which are located on Santa Catarina island.  Located nearby the host site is a lake with several otter shelters located around its perimeter.  Interns will assist with monitoring these shelters approximately once a month for otter parasites and feces, which will be collected regularly and taken back to the host site for lab analysis. Additionally, interns will assist the organization with installing and recovering trap-cameras within the shelters so that images can be downloaded and analyzed back in the office.  Interns will enter data about shelter use, timing, and otter behavior into a spreadsheet for record keeping.

These expeditions may vary in distance and intensity.  They typically involve walking along trails, kayaking, canoeing, traveling by solar boat or catching a ride in the host organization’s car for short trips around the mainland.  The activities of a given expedition, as well as the frequency of these expeditions, may also vary with the seasonals and local weather conditions.

Education and Outreach:

Interns may be involved in welcoming and helping visitors to the host site, as well as supporting new “eco-volunteers” working at the site.

Academic Background:

  • Biology, veterinary medicine, ecology, animal sciences, zoology, fisheries and wildlife, environmental sciences, oceanography, wildlife conservation, and related fields.

Skills / Experience:

  • Ability to work as part of a team or independently
  • Organizational skills for effectively collecting and organizing data
  • Other skills related to project management are helpful, such as the ability to develop and define fieldwork plans for data collection as well as analyze scientific data

Language Requirements:

  • Portuguese skills are helpful, but not required. 
  • The staff at the host site are Brazilian and speak Portuguese.  Some of them speak varying levels of English.  Spanish language skills are a helpful base for learning basic Portuguese, or for conversing with some staff members who may speak Spanish as a second language.

Other Requirements:

  • Interns may be asked (and trained) to collect data in a rapid river while rafting
  • Ability and willingness to lead eco-volunteer groups in English, or as additional language skills allow.
  • All equipment will be provided by IEB (including laptop computers and internet), but interns are encouraged to bring their own laptops if possible.

Estimated One-Time Expenses

  • IE3 Program Fee: $3,450
  • Host Site Fees: $2,353.88
  • International Travel: $1,500-1,700
  • Visa Costs: $0*
  • Recommended Immunizations: $400**

Estimated Monthly Expenses

  • Housing: Included in host site fees
  • Food: $275 ($68.75/wk)
  • Local Transportation:  $20 ($5/wk)
  • Recreation: $60 ($15/wk)
  • Personal Expenses: $120 ($30/wk)

Budgeting Note:   Estimated costs are based on typical internship-related costs and a modest standard of living.  Each intern’s costs will vary based on lifestyle choices (eating out vs. cooking or eating provided meals, taking taxis vs. walking or taking the bus) and recreational spending (travelling on days off, expensive hobbies, etc.).

Additional Expense Information

The Host Site Fees include:

  • Airport pick-up
  • In-country orientation (workplace & living environment)
  • Shared housing
  • Local transportation to and from different work sites
  • Weekly meetings with professional staff to discuss otters and local environment, and share films and photographs
  • Financial support for local social and environmental efforts and the conservation of biodiversity
  • On-site support

* No visa required for U.S. citizens

** Fees vary based on medical history and insurance coverage

Interns will stay in shared, on-site lodging used to house students, interns, eco-volunteers, researchers, and tourists. Please note that food is not included.  Interns generally purchase their own groceries and prepare their meals in the shared on-site kitchen.  There are also some restaurants in the vicinity for occasional eating out.

Included  Amenities:

  • Communal kitchen for cooking
  • Shared bathrooms
  • Bed linens
  • Wi-Fi
  • Cable TV
  • Washing machine for clothes

Oregon State University Fisheries and Wildlife student, Melissa, wrote about her amazing experience as an intern on this program:

“I have enjoyed my time here in Brazil…To be successful here you have to be flexible, knowledgeable and be crazy enough to go on adventures. I would not come here if you’re afraid of heights, hate the beach or not willing to be very physically active. This internship is physically intense, so be prepared to work hard. We feed all the animals twice a day, provide enrichment and go on treks. We usually go on 2-3 treks a week. This usually involves going on an intense hike, then collecting otter feces and hiking back to monitor otter intensity. Some of the places that we go include Saquinho, Lagoa de Leste, Nafraguados and Armaçao. We also go kayaking/canoeing at Lagoa de Peri to setup camera traps at seven different otter shelters. Even though we work hard we make sure to have fun by swimming in waterfalls, searching for caimon, and eating at small villages along the way.

This internship has pushed my beliefs and values but in a good way. Sometimes it has been difficult because of the weak internet, power outages, homesickness and the twenty-minute walk to the main road. It has also made me frustrated, angry and confused but has allowed me to de-stress. Being in the rainforest is paradise, even though I hate the giant spiders!”

Final Reports:

  • Read Helen's Final Report here.
  • Read Jordan's Final Report here.
  • Read Melissa's Final Report here.

Terms

Fall | Winter | Spring | Summer

Application Deadline

Summer: January 25

Fall: April 15

Winter: September 1

Spring: November 15

Basic Requirements

-See Qualifications & Requirements section