Volunteer research assistants are needed to participate on a PhD research project on human-elephant conflict near Ruaha National Park, Tanzania. Responsibilities will vary according to the skills and interests of each applicant but will likely involve accompanying local villagers into the National Park and using various techniques, including surveys, to help measure the effects of these visits on local peoples’ perceptions of wildlife, and of elephants in particular. Some opportunistic data will also be collected on the behavioral ecology of elephants in the field. Research assistants will be expected to commit some of their time to volunteering in local schools, to teach students about wildlife and conservation; there will also be ample opportunity to teach additional subjects, if it is of interest to the volunteer.
work represents a unique opportunity to gain invaluable experience
living and working in rural East Africa on an elephant research and
conservation project. The investigator is in the process of establishing
a long-term project in the area aimed at applying research findings to
conservation, and human-wildlife conflict mitigation work. Thus,
research assistants who work on the project during this time will be in a
position to directly influence the development and initial success of
this undertaking. Additionally, those volunteers who successfully
complete a commitment on this project and later move onto graduate
school will likely be invited to return to the field site to conduct
independent research; infrastructure and logistical support will be
provided in these cases.
Unfortunately, no funding currently
exists to support research assistants, so a program fee of $320 per week
will be required to cover program costs as well as your accommodation,
local transportation, visits to the park, and food in the field. Please
wait to submit your application materials until you are sure of your
ability to cover these costs. You will also be responsible for your own
airfare to and from Tanzania, as well as medical insurance and
vaccinations. Because of the remoteness of the field site and the time
it takes to acclimate to the region and the work, a minimum commitment
of 6 weeks will be required, with preference given to those who can make
longer commitments. Applications for those available to work between
August 2012 and December 2012 are now being accepted; positions will be
filled as suitable applicants are found.
conditions at this site can be very challenging, with frequent exposure
to poisonous snakes and crocodiles, daily temperatures frequently
exceeding 90°F, and shared living quarters being cramped and very basic
(ie: no running water, very basic food, and limited electricity
available only to power field equipment). Research assistants on this
project face and overcome unforeseen challenges, both large and small,
on a daily basis. These include frequent vehicle break-downs, charging
elephants, malfunctioning field equipment, and work schedules that are
dependent upon the constantly shifting availability of village leaders
and local park authorities. Despite the availability of local
translators, the strong language barrier can also be very challenging.
All of these conditions must be reconciled with the challenge of
successfully completing the work, as scheduled, on a monthly basis.
These challenges should not be under-estimated, but it should also be
noted that many volunteers who work on the project find that they don’t
want to leave!
A particular type of
personality is best suited for this type of work, therefore you must
have the following qualities: positive attitude, flexible, resourceful,
personable, intellectually curious, conscientious, patient, able to work
and problem solve independently but also work as part of a team, … and a
sense of humor doesn’t hurt either!
- Interest in wildlife conservation, and education
- Interest in and respect for different cultures
- Fluency in English, both written and spoken
- Comfortable living in remote areas under very basic living conditions
- Experience traveling or working internationally, preferably in a developing nation
- Some kind of field research experience
Preferred but not necessary:
- Knowledge of cars, particularly diesel engines
- Some knowledge of Kiswahili
a resume, the contact information for 3 references, and cover letter
detailing how you meet the qualifications listed above, the reason you
are interested in this position, and the time commitment you can make
(including rough dates of your availability) to:
more information about the project, see www.thewildlifeconnection.org.
Please also see our facebook page, which is frequently updated by
volunteers currently in the field: