Monitoring and Conservation of Lake Malawi's cichlid fish

Project name:

The Maru

Project purpose:

The Maru is a conservation and education center located on the northern shore of Lake Malawi. In association with Aquanuts Divers, local fishers, and other Malawian organizations we conduct conservation and monitoring programs on Lake Malawi. Our goal is to be a Center at which Malawians and people from all over the world come together to better understand the Lake.

We welcome collaborative efforts with organizations inside Malawi and those further abroad and provide various opportunities for individuals to work with us. The Maru conducts monitoring programs on Lake Malawi's biodiversity, fisheries, weather and water quality, and environmental education.

Project activities:

  • community awareness

  • data collection/analysis

  • habitat restoration/management

  • scuba diving

  • teaching

Weekly cost (approx USD):



Direct benefits you gain:

  • cultural integration

  • data/statistical skills

  • field research skills

  • gain a qualification or credit
  • remote scenic location
  • report writing
  • undertake your own research

Noteworthy conservation points:

  • development goals (supporting local community)

  • ethical rehabilitation centre/practices

Wild Sun Rescue Center


Private accommodation with shared facilities

When does the project run?

All year round


electricity, accommodation included, food included, local shops, cold showers, western toilet, mosquito nets, provide bedding, nearby medical facilities, refillable drinking water

How long can I stay?

Our internship program requires a minimum 12 week commitment. Our volunteer program has a minimum of a 2 week commitment at a higher per week contribution.


  • 18 years and over
  • Commited to conservation, flexibility, a willingness to learn
  • Ability to live in a remote location

Details of the day-to-day life on the project:

Volunteers pay $300 USD per week for the first two weeks and $200 USD per week thereafter.

Interns pay $150 USD per week remembering that internships require a minimum of a 12 week commitment.

The Maru Research Center currently has three ongoing research and education programs. As a volunteer or intern you will be working on all of them. You are going to be busy. The research we conduct at the Maru requires training and during your stay with us we will provide you with the skills you need to competently assist us in carrying out our research programs. This will include dive training, language training, and training in surveying techniques and methodologies for both land-based and underwater data collection. Interns will follow a similar schedule to the one above for the first month. Afterwards they will work on a variety of projects and will work collaboratively with Maru staff to formulate a productive research schedule.


Population and Biodiversity Surveying
Lake Malawi is home to the largest number of endemic fish on the planet. There are an estimated 1000 species of cichlid fish alone. At the Maru we are utterly fascinated by these little fellows and have developed a survey program to monitor and map their diversity and numbers at various sites within our research area.

Fisheries Monitoring and Conservation

In cooperation with the Malawian government’s Fisheries Department, Mzuzu University, and other local and international NGOs the Maru Research Center is helping Malawians to better monitor and conserve their lake resources. After the establishment of Beach Village Committees (BVCs) the Maru will work with them to better educate the local population through sensitization campaigns and other activities about the importance of using the lake’s resources sustainably. It will also assist the BVC is setting up community monitoring programs so that the effectiveness of their outreach and management initiatives can be assessed.

Weather and Water Quality Monitoring

At the Maru we monitor a variety of weather and water quality indicators. With increased development both on the shores of the Lake and further inland we want to keep track of what is coming into the lake within our research area and to know what effect it is having on the lake. Every Malawian and every living organism in the lake depends on the lake’s waters for their daily needs and so knowing the quality of that water is important.

Where you will stay?

During your stay with us you will live on the Maru Research Center premises located directly on the shores of Lake Malawi. Kande is a small village located on the major north-south highway of Malawi running along the western shore of Lake Malawi. It has no banking, internet, or modern shopping facilties. At the Maru Research Center your accommodation will be on a shared basis. All cottages are equipped with electricity, mosquito nets, beds, bedding, and adequate storage for your clothing and personal belongings. You will have access to a shared bathroom with hot and cold running water. You will also be provided with a communal kitchen and dining area where you will be able to prepare your meals. Food stuffs for dinner and a light breakfast will be provided as part of your program cost however you will be responsible for cooking and purchasing food for your lunch. You will have ample opportunity to go to markets to purchase required food stuffs. You will have free access to internet for any research related purposes and will have the ability to pay for internet access for personal use. Kande Beach Campsite is located directly next to the research center. It has a westernstyle bar and restaurant. In Kande village itself there are a couple restaurants serving local food.

If you are not already a certified scuba diver then in order to participate in our underwater surveys you will also need to take the PADI Open Water Diver scuba course. As a volunteer or intern you will receive a 10% discount if you do the course at Aquanuts Divers. The cost, including the discount, is $315 USD.

Reviews & ratings



5 Oct 2021

Great experience

Great experience. I have learned a lot about wild animals and the bush. The kids are super. Thanks to Michele and Ian but also I would like to thanks all the volunteers and local people.


Daktari Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage



21 Mar 2020

Very Good Program

My week at Daktari was excellent and the program is very intense in the sense that we all get together with the kids and animals from 7am until 9 pm. It is an excellent choice for a first volunteering program abroad considering and I would definitely like to go back someday


Daktari Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage

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