Conservation courses

There’s no better laboratory for conservation and biology field studies than the island of Mauritius, once home of the Dodo!

Ebony Forest delivers a range of unique and bespoke field courses suitable for undergraduate and post-graduate students. We put strong emphasis on practical training, analytical thinking and teamwork for a wide variety of topics such as wildlife survey techniques, data management and presentation. Check out our extended, but not exhaustive, list below.


If your university is visiting for 1 day or 1 month, speak to us about what we can offer. We also propose and can supervise a wide range of projects for BSc, MSc and PhD students.

ebony forest - kestrel in nest
Why choose Mauritius for your University field course?

• English and French are both spoken and written
• Safe and stable country
• Home to the icon of extinction, the dodo, and a catalogue of what not to do to an oceanic island. On the other hand , we also boast some of the greatest conservation success stories having saved species such as the Mauritius Kestrel, Pink Pigeon and Echo Parakeet from extinction.
• Mauritians are friendly and welcoming
• Direct flights from London, Paris, Dubai, Frankfurt, Perth, Durban, Johannesburg, Réunion, Mumbai, Nairobi, Istanbul, Seychelles, Singapore
• Good health-care and infrastructure
• Year round agreeable climate
• Sun, sand, mountains, and beach activities such as scuba diving, snorkelling, kite-surfing, sea-kayaking, dolphin and whale-watching
• Multi-cultural and inclusive society

Why choose Ebony Forest?

• We are leaders in forest conservation in Mauritius
• We offer courses in education, forest restoration, conservation and data management
• We already work with UK universities
• We work in close collaboration with terrestrial and marine NGOs and government bodies
• We provide hands-on practical training, supported by theory
• Not only are we a training facility, but you can live in a tropical native forest.
• Our instructors are passionate, patient and have years of experience
• We manage four conservation sites in Mauritius, one in Rodrigues, and four in Madagascar, collectively comprising of more than 20,000 hectares of wilderness

What topics are covered?

We offer a wide range of topics in terrestrial and marine conservation methods. Below is a list of 19 different courses that we regularly teach to assist you in meeting your teaching objectives.

Where will the courses be taught?

Teaching will primarily be at Ebony Forest in our Ecology Centre and/or Vallée De L’Est, where students can stay. We also organize day excursions and learning activities to visit offshore islets, the National Parks, mangrove and marine conservation projects.

Can students stay on site?

Depending on the number of students, we can provide accommodation on site at Ebony Forest and Vallée De L’Est. We can also assist in finding or recommend accommodation in the vicinity.

How long is each course?

We deliver bespoke courses to meet your requirements and learning objectives. Each course is a mix of theoretical and practical experience.

What language will the courses be taught in?

English or French.

Who does the teaching?

Dr Nicolas Zuel oversees the course with the assistance of the training team.

How do I learn more?

Contact Dr Nicolas Zuël by email, [email protected].

Field courses

Our courses are designed to inspire and build conservation capacity as so much needs to be done to halt further biodiversity loss. They will equip you with the practical skills and theoretical understanding needed to contribute effectively to conservation research and action in Mauritius and other oceanic island ecosystems. The courses are led by Dr Nicolas Zuël and were developed with the support of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. We currently offer 18 different conservation courses but can develop bespoke courses to meet your needs and time constraints. A brief summary of what we cover in our four course is provided below and for more information do not hesitate to contact Dr Nicolas Zuël.

Forest restoration
Forest restoration

Learn how to make site assessments, determine forest type, recognise and overcome thresholds, choose appropriate forest restoration techniques, select suitable species to plant, planting aftercare and how to monitor your restoration activities.

Eco guiding

Learn how to communicate effectively with different audiences and how to create inspiring tours.

Bird surveying & monitoring
Bird surveying & monitoring

Acquire the basic skills to identify bird species, choose appropriate survey methods, estimate population size, monitor birds and populations, catch different species and get an introduction to mist-netting and bird ringing.

Plant surveys & monitoring
Plant surveys & monitoring

Learn how to identify plants, carry out different plant survey techniques and understand the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

Reptile survey & monitoring
Reptile survey & monitoring

Acquire the basic skills to choose an appropriate survey method, identify reptile species present, estimate reptile population size, monitor and catch different reptile species, measure and mark them.

Invertebrate surveys and monitoring
Invertebrate surveys and monitoring

Learn how to choose an appropriate survey method to identify which invertebrate species are present, to estimate invertebrate abundance and monitor populations, to catch and trap different species of invertebrates and measure them.

Native Plant Propagation & nursery management
Native Plant Propagation & nursery management

Acquire basic skills needed to propagate native plants and manage a plant nursery.

Setting up a species conservation project
Setting up a species conservation project

Learn about the different stages of how to set up a conservation programme, gather crucial information on a species, identify threats and the needs for species protection, choose a method to mitigate potential threats, and implement a conservation programme to manage a population.

Safe use of chainsaw
Safe use of chainsaw

Acquire the knowledge and skills needed to use a chainsaw safely, chainsaw maintenance, cross-cutting and tree felling while following recognized safety standards.

Rope access and tree climbing
Rope access and tree climbing

Acquire the knowledge and skills needed to access tree canopies using ropes and climbing techniques while following recognized safety standards.

Scientific writing
Scientific writing

Acquire basic skills in the scientific writing process and the fundamentals of effective scientific writing.


Learn about the techniques and skills to use QGIS software to create maps and analyse data.

Statistics & R
Statistics & R

Gain basic skills to organize and represent data, select the appropriate statistical test and to analyse the data in excel, and then how to use the statistical programme R for statistical tests and presentation.

Experimental design
Experimental design

Understand the concepts of experimental design, when to use different experimental design approaches and the appropriate data collection and to successfully carry out a research project.

Introduction to fieldwork
Introduction to fieldwork

Gain basic skills needed to carry out conservation field work such as learn to use a map, compass and GPS, collect and record field observations, use a variety of field equipment commonly used for conservation work, learn to work in a team and plan and use your time efficiently.

Predator control as a conservation tool
Predator control as a conservation tool

Develop basic skills needed to identify predators present, which methods and traps to control them and set up and manage a predator control grid.

Red listing
Red listing

Understand the IUCN Red List, how it is used, what are the categories and criteria used for Red Listing to be able to carry out species assessments.

Wildlife Technology
Wildlife Technology

Develop basic skills in the use of a wide range of technology, such as drones, camera traps, GPS, endoscopes and GPS tags, to address wildlife conservation questions.

Lagoon & Mangrove surveys and restoration
Lagoon & Mangrove surveys and restoration

This course is designed to build basic skills in lagoon and mangrove biology, coral, fauna and flora inventories, assessment, management, and restoration.

Training Team
Dr Christine Griffiths - Ebony Forest - Mauritius

Dr Christine Griffiths

General Manager


Christine has a PhD from the University of Bristol. She has published extensively on tortoise rewilding and is passionate about species conservation and island restoration. She has worked in Hawaii, East Africa and Madagascar on island restoration projects and species conservation. Originally from Northern Ireland, Christine started working in Mauritius in 2004 with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.


She joined the Ebony Forest team in 2012 and has helped establish the conservation work, visitor centre and education programme.

Dr Nicolas Zuël

Conservation Manager


Nicolas has an MSc from the University of Reunion and a PhD from the University of Zurich in conservation and natural sciences. Prior to joining Ebony Forest in 2019, he was the Fauna Manager of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) for ten years. During this time, he managed fauna conservation projects including the Mauritius pink pigeon, Mauritius kestrel, Echo parakeet, tortoise rewilding, seabird, Round Island, Mauritius fody, Mauritius cuckoo-shrike, Mauritius paradise flycatcher and Mauritius olive white-eye projects, involving bird reintroductions, captive breeding, species recovery and invasive species management. He also is experienced in invasive plant control and plant propagation having been the Round Island Warden for 3 years.


Nicolas enjoys sharing his skills and knowledge with students and volunteers and frequently runs training courses. In addition, he is experienced in planning, budgeting, training and implementing large-scale conservation projects. Advanced restoration and conservation expertise combined with his management skills and research capabilities make Nicolas an invaluable asset to both the conservation and teaching team.

Denis Li Lung Hok


Denis has an MSc in Biodiversity Management from the University of Toulouse, France. Denis joined the Ebony Forest team in September 2019, with over 12 years’ of field conservation experience on multiple bird projects in Mauritius. As the Pink Pigeon and Mauritius Kestrel Coordinator for the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, Denis developed a wide range of practical skills in bird handling, ringing and rigging transmitter harnesses, building and setting up nest boxes, tree climbing, hand rearing, doing bird releases and many more ecological skills. When not working, Denis likes to go abseiling, hiking, orienteering and crafting items with wood and metal. Denis’ practical and handyman skills are an asset to the team and he is always willing to share.

Christelle Ferrière


Christelle has an MSc in Conservation Biology from the University of New South Wales (Sydney) and Victoria (New Zealand). Christelle is our Miss Passerine with over 8 years of experience working with Mauritius Fody, Olive White-eye, Cuckoo-shrike and Paradise Flycatchers, as well as Pink Pigeons. She shares with us her vast array of experience in bird ringing, handling, population monitoring, hand-rearing and translocation of passerines. Besides presenting at multiple international conferences and publications, Christelle regularly does talks for secondary and tertiary institutions.

Adisha Sewdyal


Need help with GIS, then Adisha is our go to girl. Having completed a BSc in Agriculture, Adisha went on to pursue a career in conservation. She’s an alrounder with experience in plant restoration and propagation, nursery management, bird and reptile conservation. Adisha worked as a warden on the offshore island of Round Island, on the Echo Parakeet team and on the Cuckoo-shrike project for the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation for 6 years. Adisha knows all there is about the endemic and Endangered Cuckoo-shrike.

Elisa Laverdant


Elisa is an inspiration to us all. Having followed a career path in management, Elisa decided to dedicate her life to saving Mauritian wildlife. Elisa brings three years of experience working on Pink Pigeons and as a hand-rearer for the threatened Cuckoo-shrike. Elisa is our Hand-rearing and Husbandry Coordinator, responsible for the captive breeding and rearing of snails, Olive White-eye and insects. Highly motivated to develop her skills, Elisa spends her free-time working on her diploma in Animal Science. That is when she is not feeding stray dogs and working with local communities.

Estelle de Sornay


Estelle joined the team in 2022 and is in charge of the Pink Pigeon project. When not doing Pink Pigeon territory searches or hopper watches, Estelle expends her boundless energy by assisting with the predator index, snail, Echo Parakeet and cricket projects. During the breeding season, Estelle is one of three hand-rearers tasked with the delicate job of incubating Olive White-eye eggs and feeding Olive chicks and fledglings in preparation for their release at Ebony Forest. And in case Estelle doesn’t get enough exercise at work, she likes to go to spinning and circuit training classes after work!

Kentish Bundhoo


Having participated in our training courses Kentish joined the Ebony team in 2021. Besides being responsible for our 50 ha. predator control grid at Ebony Forest, he assists in all aspects of our conservation work from Echo Parakeet hand-rearing, to tortoise monitoring, to managing the field station, and assisting in training courses. With a degree in Information Technology, Kentish is our tech wizard. When not working, you’ll find Kentish up a mountain or under a waterfall with his friends.

Naomie Lagesse


Naomie started out as a volunteer in 2022 having returned to Mauritius after completing her BSc in Conservation Biology in the UK. Naomie works on our Echo Parakeet and Pink Pigeon reintroduction projects, assists in Olive White-eye searches, predator index, invertebrate projects and is responsible for the volunteers. In her free time, she loves nothing more than to dance!

Helene Bertille


Helene joined the team in 2021 as the Site Supervisor of Vallée De L’Est, our conservation site in the east of Mauritius, where she is responsible for the forest restoration and bird conservation work. Helene spends her days overseeing the weeding work, finding rare plants to propagate and checking on the Mauritius Kestrel and Echo Parakeet nest boxes, as well as the Pachystyla bicolor snails reintroduced to the site. Helene brings over 10 years of experience monitoring Pink Pigeon, Olive White-eye, Echo Parakeet and Mauritius Fody to the team. In her spare time, she loves nothing more than baking and eating chocolate!

Vashist Sobrun


Vashist joined the team in 2022 as the Site Supervisor of our conservation project at Montagne Longue, where he is responsible for restoring the forest. Vashist spends his time overseeing the weeding work, finding rare plants to propagate, planting endemics and delivering school talks. Prior to working at Ebony Forest, Vashist worked on the Pink Pigeon project in multiple sites throughout Mauritius. You’ll find Vashist playing football and boardgames when not working.

Jevika Atwaroo


Jevika joined the team in 2022 as the Nursery Officer for our native plant propagation nursery. She’s responsible for preparing all our planting stock and growing rare plants. When not using her green fingers, she assists on Olive White-eye searches and hand-rearing Echo Parakeets. In her spare time, she likes cooking and helps bring a smile to handicap children through face painting, storytelling and organizing plays.

Small acts

of Kindness can
go a long way