viernes, 16 de marzo de 2012

Community-based forest restoration in Kianjavato, Madagascar

A collaborative project between researchers at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo Center for Conservation and Research and the University of Calgary seeks two qualified and highly motivated research assistants. The project involves contributing to a reforestation program designed to reconnect fragmented forests over mountainous terrain in the Kianjavato-Vatovavy landscape in southeastern Madagascar. The program’s long-term goals are to provide animal habitat and benefit the local community by enabling sustainable food and lumber enterprises.

The primary responsibilities of the volunteers include: 1) hands-on participation in established tree nurseries, including plant seeds, care for seedlings, nursery maintenance, grafting, and transplant seedlings into the landscape; 2) collect various scientific data such as seedling germination and growth rates per tree species, number of seedlings cultivated and planted, record GPS points for each plant site, measurement of growth and survival rates for transplanted trees; 3) take part in community outreach activities and English development courses; 4) assist with the development of water collection methods and other sustainable resource practices; and 5) enter and transmit data to the principal investigators via internet every two weeks.

There will be occasional opportunities to participate in lemur behavioral studies being conducted by other long-term volunteers and research assistants on site. Volunteer commitments are to work 5-6 days/week, up to 9 hours/day. Most of these tasks are carried out with the assistance of research technicians, and there is some flexibility in scheduling.

Volunteers will be trained by the current field team. Volunteers also will work with an experienced and very helpful local team of assistants for all activities. Some English is spoken by the team, but French language skills will be useful; it should also be possible for volunteers to learn to communicate in Malagasy during their stay. The terrain is very steep and the weather is typically very warm and humid, particularly December-April. Adequate physical fitness in these conditions is required. There are no dangerous animals, except the rare spider or scorpion. However, precautions should be made to avoid tropical diseases (e.g., malaria) – volunteers should ensure that they have the proper vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis. There are nine total lemur species present, and a rich variety of other endemics (birds, chameleons, tenrecs, etc.).

Research is based at the newly-established Kianjavato Ahmanson Field Station (KAFS). Infrastructure upgrades are ongoing, however conditions are currently relatively rustic. Volunteers will sleep in self-provided tents under a fixed shelter which is shared with other volunteers, and meals are basic camp fare (be prepared to eat rice at each meal). There is generally good cellular phone reception at the station and in some parts of the forest. Volunteers will need to obtain their own phones and will have to pay for their own calls (even international rates are reasonable). A generator is present to power laptops, recharge batteries, etc. on a restricted basis. Internet will only be available during twice monthly trips to larger towns.

Qualifications/Experience: As indicated, adequate physical fitness is required. We prefer volunteers with at least a BA or BSc in the biological or environmental sciences (including biological anthropology). Some independent research experience will be an advantage, as will work or travel experience in tropical countries. A willingness to work in isolated conditions, the ability to solve problems independently, and dedication to a positive and respectful working environment are required.

Support provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging): No salary is offered, but in-country permits, food, and necessary transportation at the site will be provided.

Term of Appointment: A three-month commitment is required (June - August 2012). Volunteers are welcome to stay longer; please indicate this in your letter of interest.

Application Deadline: immediately; the positions will be filled by the first qualified applicants.

Comments: Applicants should send a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, and contact information for two references to Shannon Engberg (

For additional information, please see:

For more info, contact:

Shannon Engberg
Conservation Genetics
Center for Conservation and Research
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo
3701 South 10th Street
Omaha, NE 68107