Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, Malawi
Background Information and Position Description:
The Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, Malawi, facilitates the rescue and rehabilitation of confiscated, orphaned and injured animals and where feasible their return to the wild. In December 2008, the Centre in conjunction with Born Free initiated its Primate Release Programme based in Kasungu National Park. At present 2 groups of primates have been released; a troop of 12 yellow baboons, known as Jack’s troop where first to be released, followed by Titan’s troop, 15 vervet monkeys released in May 2009. Both troops have been returned to the wild under soft release guidelines.
Each group of released primates is monitored daily for 6 months by a research team, collecting twice daily census information, behavioural focal follows and recording all wildlife interactions. The research team, currently comprising 2 local staff and 2 international staff, is responsible for monitoring the primates’ transition and helping to ensure their health and protection.
Following these two releases and with further releases scheduled for 2010 and 2011, the project now requires additional and comparative information on the wild populations of yellow baboons and vervets within Kasungu National Park. Historically no data collection has ever taken place on any of the wild primate troops within this National Park and therefore we are offering an opportunity to become involved in an exciting and original research project. With this comes the chance to be part of the habituation process. Habituation of the two chosen troops will begin in December 2009, but we expect the process to take many more months. So for those applicants looking to join the project in early 2010, habituation will be one of your major roles. Once the habituation process is complete, the volunteer role will become that of a research assistant, collecting data on both behavioural and feeding ecological on either the baboon or vervet troop – depending on the volunteers hired it may be possible to interchange and collect data on both troops.
The release programme is based in Kasungu National Park and therefore offers a unique opportunity to live in the heart of the National Park. Our accommodation is a basic but comfortable tented camp within the research block. Same sex volunteers will be required to share a tent, although we are hoping to source a tent each for the long term volunteers. Camp consists of a long drop toilet, hot water bucket bathing within a grass matted cubicle, solar power electricity, water on tap (6am – 6pm) from the borehole and therefore drinkable, indoor office/food storage area and a full time camp assistant who prepares all meals for the field team, hot water for washing, cleans all communal areas and items and does twice weekly clothes washing. There is good mobile phone coverage within the National Park, Thanks to the British Army, and using Zain the local network supplier text messages to the UK are very cheap (approx 8p). The camp is located only 5 minutes walk from the main scout village, there you will find the local school, a tuck shop and freshly made bread/doughnuts. No where within the park is fenced, which means camp is visited day and night by a variety of wildlife, although this is more frequent during the dry season (May – October) when they come in search of water. Commonly seen or heard in camp are bush pig, bush buck, elephant, civet and genet, hyena are often heard close by but to date have not wondered into our camp and leopard have been caught on camera traps between our camp and the scout village, but have never ventured into camp.
Field time will be scheduled as 5 days dawn till dusk (6am-6pm) data collections, 1 day office time for data input and 1 day off – days off and office days will be scheduled as such that your data collection can be collected by another member of the research team and so no more than one person is requiring the project laptop at a time. Weekly supply runs are done to Kasungu town, you will be expected to participate on a fortnightly basis which will also give you the opportunity for internet access and a brief break from bush living. Holidays will be formulated dependant on your terms of commitment, but will be loosely based around 4 week’s holiday per year.
1. Experience of working on a scientific research project, collecting and working systematically with data, ideally an observational/behavioural project
2. Significant foreign travel or living/work experience, within a developing country and ideally the tropics
3. Interest in animal behaviour, conservation and welfare, and preferably a university level qualification in animal behaviour, primate conservation, zoology or other relevant subject
4. There are 2 positions available, each looking for a one year long commitment. However, consideration will be given to candidates looking for a shorter commitment period, although a minimum of 3 months is required.
In addition, applicants must have certain QUALITIES: they must be energetic, patient, open, responsible, flexible, healthy, able to work independently but also as part of a team, and be highly motivated. Applicants must also be hardworking and able to keep going, and do so cheerfully! Our schedule is demanding and unconventional (6 days work, 1 day off), up to 12 hrs field time per day and no guarantee of getting lunch, but monkeys permitting we try our best. The position is not ideal for someone who needs a lot of personal time, or for someone who easily feels lonely. The ideal applicant must be comfortable being unplugged and a distance from easy communication with the outside world, there is mobile phone communication in camp and email possible fortnightly, but sometimes things just don't work. They must also have above average resistance to social/psychological stress with a tolerance towards local customs and beliefs and be comfortable with other conditions and risks that are simply part of tropical fieldwork, such as limited healthcare, monotonous diet, rare confrontations with noxious plants or animals. This is very intense work - if your main goal is not gaining scientific research experience, you will probably not be happy in this position.
This is a volunteer position and as such no wage or stipend is currently available.
Support provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging):
The volunteer is responsible for their return flight to Lilongwe, visa (approx £45 for first 3 months), comprehensive travel and medical insurance, food (approx £10-15 per week on a local food diet - however, funding permitting we hope to provide volunteer food), any non-field accommodation, all field clothing, including adequate walking boots.
The project will cover all accommodation while at the field site, all project related in country travel and an armed scout for your safety whilst following the monkeys on foot.
Term of Appointment:
A.S.A.P. We ideally require the first vounteers to begin late January/early Feb
Consider positions are still vacant as long as this advert is posted