The Primate and Predator Project based within the Limpopo Province, South Africa is playing a critical role in the research and conservation of local wildlife. We are looking for hands-on and passionate research assistants to join our team and help support our critical research into human-wildlife conflict. The project provides a fantastic opportunity to gain exposure to behavioural ecology, working alongside experienced professionals. You will be working with primates whilst developing a range of research skills, which is a perfect steppingstone for your future career in conservation. Our project investigates the scale and nature of human-wildlife conflict and crop foraging on commercial farms in the area, as well as assessing local perceptions and tolerance towards wildlife ‘pests’. We are currently testing strategies for mitigating human-primate conflict as well as investigating the effects of consuming human-derived foods on baboons, which play a critical role in preserving local biodiversity.
Primate Research Assistants’ main tasks will be to help with habituation and data collection on up to three groups of wild chacma baboons. Other tasks may also be required, including damage assessment surveys, group counts, camera trapping, and community activities. As the project involves a social anthropological aspect, assistants will be expected to interact with local people, communicate positively, and have knowledge of the project so that it can be conveyed and promoted.
What we are looking for
Everyone at the research centre is passionate about the work they do, so we are looking for someone who is excited to make an active contribution to the project. We are open to your background, what is important is that you are passionate about primates and their conservation. There are a few qualities that make you more relevant for the programme: a background in biological sciences (or similar) or prior field experience with primates, the project’s field techniques or working in a southern African environment; being reliable, responsible and motivated to work hard; enjoy working as part of a team and be happy to operate under the authority of field research coordinators, whilst being competent working unsupervised; happy to work long and unsociable hours in sometimes very hot conditions; possession of a valid driver’s licence (manual). Applicants should be prepared for long challenging days spent on farms and within the community with little or no shade.
Salary and costs
This is a volunteer role so no salary is provided, however you will be exposed to a range of research techniques and therefore this could be an important steppingstone to your next role.
You will need to cover your own accommodation and food costs at the research centre. Accommodation costs are currently ZAR7,500 a month. Research equipment will be provided. Volunteers will also be responsible for their own airfare and travel to the centre, visas and medical/travel insurance. International travel to South Africa for research purposes is currently permitted under COVID-19 regulations; we can provide necessary documentation for visa applications.
The research centre is in a rural location so there is housing available onsite. Accommodation is two to six bed apartments with shared bathroom facilities (hot showers, flush toilets) and kitchen area equipped with a gas stove, fridge/freezer, tapped water, washing machine, and electricity.
How to apply
Three positions are available from June; applications for later in the year will also be accepted. Please include a brief cover letter and CV, using your cover letter to explain why you are interested in working with us. Outline any relevant experience or transferable skills and indicate when and for how long you would like to volunteer. We encourage longer stays and recommend a minimum duration of three months. Applications will be accepted until positions are filled.