PhD candidate – South Africa

UNISA & National Museum (South Africa)
Free State, South Africa
Job Category
Temporary/Seasonal Positions
Start Date
Last Date to Apply
We are looking for a candidate who holds a Master of Science degree in Zoology, Animal Ecology or a similar field to undertake a research project to illuminate the spatio-temporal and dietary overlap between black-backed jackal and caracal in a small-stock farming area in the southern Free State of South Africa. Broadly speaking, we expect the student to develop their project focusing on the following areas of investigation:
• Spatio-temporal interactions between black-backed jackal and caracal
• Mesopredator population estimation
• Prey selection and overlap
• Prey availability (this portion of the investigation should be developed to dovetail with an ongoing investigation by the National Museum into small mammals occurring in the study area)
Brief Project Background:

Small Stock Farmers Organisations in South Africa currently estimate that caracal and black-backed jackal are annually responsible for losses of > ZAR 1 000 million (US $ 77 million) to the small stock industry. Individual farmers claim to lose between 30 and 75% of their annual small stock production to predation. Concerns have been raised that > 500 000 wild animals in South Africa may be killed annually as a by-product of poisoning and trapping efforts aimed at damage causing animals. This has led to a great decline in biodiversity in small stock farming areas with little or no reduction in small stock losses or any noticeable reduction in black-backed jackal and caracal populations. On the contrary – some contend that black-backed jackal and caracal ranges are expanding and populations are increasing.

Despite the possible economic impact of black-backed jackal and caracal, very little is known about their ecology individually, and even less is known about the nature of the relationship between these species. This project aims to gain insight into the intra-guild relationship between black-backed jackal and caracal in an ecologically and economically important environment.

The student will carry out the investigation while being registered as a student of UNISA (University of South Africa). The study will, however, be carried out in a small-stock farming area in the Southern Free State. Currently we have 12 GPS collars available for the study – these collars are refurbishable, if necessary. While conducting field work, on site accommodation is available to the candidate. Although additional funding is likely to become available, the candidate should be prepared to seek funding through bursaries and from other sources. The candidate will also need to have access to a vehicle for the purposes of carrying out their field work and be in possession of a driver’s license that is valid in South Africa. Although it would be of great benefit if the candidate was conversant in Afrikaans, this criterion does not preclude people who are unable to speak Afrikaans.

The process at UNISA is the following – the candidate initially enrolls for a proposal module during which time the candidate develops the research design of the project. The project design will be done in close collaboration with both the supervisor and co-supervisor. The completion of this module is based on the submission and acceptance of a project proposal, that is acceptable to both the supervisors and to the department, the submission of an ethics proposal and the granting of an ethics certificate to conduct the project, and the granting of any provincial research permits. Once this has been done, the candidate may then register for the Thesis / Research component of the project – this is the data collection and analysis component of the project. Upon completion of the project, the resultant thesis is submitted for internal vetting and external examination.

Applicants will initially be assessed based on the documents that they submit. The supervisors will draw up a short-list of preferred candidates who will be requested to make themselves available for an interview. If non-South African candidates are included in the short-list, they will be interviewed via SKYPE. The supervisors will then make a final decision and inform the candidates of that.

Interested applicants should send the following:
• Curriculum Vitae
• Academic Record
• List of contactable references
• Covering letter
to with, BBJ/CAR Free State Application, in the subject line. Applications should be submitted on or before 31 July 2017.
Contact Person
Haemish Melville
Contact Phone
+27 72 517 7127
Contact eMail
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