Volunteer Field Assistants for Filoha Hamadryas Project, Ethiopia

Ethiopia, Africa
Feb 16, 2015
May 18, 2015
Employment Type
Salary Type

Hiring Organization:
Filoha Hamadryas Project, Queens College, City University of New York

Position Description:
We are seeking volunteer field assistants for a long-term study of hamadryas baboons at the Filoha study site in the lowlands of central Ethiopia (see: http://larissaswedell.org/filoha). Hamadryas baboons are characterized by a unique multi-level and male-dominated social system. Filoha is the only currently operational long-term field site where members of this species are individually identified and habituated. At Filoha, we are studying various aspects of hamadryas baboon social behavior, ecology, genetics, and physiology. See footage of hamadryas at Filoha in the primates episode of the recent BBC documentary Life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ju7gujK8yrY.

Most volunteer positions at Filoha last for a minimum of six months (though individual time frames are negotiated separately). Responsibilities include maintaining habituation of the study group through all-day follows (5-15 km/day), daily census of the study group, collection of behavioral and reproductive data, and collection and field laboratory processing of fecal samples for genetic and hormone analyses. Volunteers are accompanied by our current graduate student, Alexis Amann (http://larissaswedell.org/students/amann), our local field assistant, and/or a local park scout while following baboons.

The Filoha field site is based at the most northerly outpost of the Awash National Park. The area is hot and dry (averaging 94 degrees F) for most of the year. Living conditions at Filoha are simple and rugged: we sleep in tents, our cook prepares food on a kerosene stove, and we bathe in the local hot springs or carry water from the springs to our shower stall. The area experiences occasional ethnic conflict, during which baboon follows are suspended. Prior to departure, volunteers would need to arrange for their Ethiopian visa, vaccines, any anti-malarial prophylaxis desired, and travel insurance (for medical evacuation). For more details and photos of the field site, see: http://larissaswedell.org/filoha-site.

Depending on length of stay, amount and quality of data collected, and other intellectual contributions to the project, these positions could potentially lead to co-authorship on a publication.

Volunteers need to be physically fit (the baboons often travel quickly over rough terrain) and able to collect data under the conditions described above. Due to the remoteness of the field site and the lack of communication infrastructure, volunteers must also be of sound physical and mental health without any pre-existing conditions that might require immediate medical attention. Volunteers must also be able and willing to maintain professional relationships with people of varied cultural backgrounds and cope with disruptions to fieldwork due to possible ethnic conflict and other factors out of one’s control.

The ideal candidate for this position must have the following characteristics:
* Ability to withstand – and enjoy! – rugged and remote field conditions.
* Previous international field experience that includes living or traveling in a developing country.
* Ability to adapt to the local cultural milieu and represent the project in a professional manner.
* Excellent physical and mental health.
* A strong interest in animal behavior and conservation!

Bonus characteristics:
* Prior coursework in (and knowledge of) primate behavior and ecology.
* Previous experience collecting observational data on behavioral biology or ecology.
* A desire to learn new languages for maximum ease of communication.
* Emergency medical training, construction and/or car maintenance skills, and the ability to a drive manual transmission vehicle.
* Animal handling or captive care experience.

In addition to the above, the successful applicant will be flexible, adaptable, patient, emotionally mature, responsible, self-reliant, energetic, and highly motivated. Working in Ethiopia can be highly rewarding, with its rich evolutionary history, beautiful landscape, and varied mix of cultures. If this sounds exciting to you and you feel you possess the characteristics listed in this posting, we encourage you to apply!

This is a volunteer position, so unfortunately no salary is available. Volunteers would need to cover their own travel expenses and pay a US$1000 research fee to the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (that would likely be reimbursed by the project after successful completion of fieldwork for an agreed upon amount of time; see below). In addition, each person should allow $100-200 per month for living expenses while in Ethiopia.

Support provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging):
Pending availability of project funds, certain expenses within Ethiopia may be paid for up front or reimbursed after successful completion of the first six months of fieldwork.

Term of Appointment:
A minimum 6 month commitment is preferred, but individual time frames are negotiated separately.

Application Deadline:
Applications will be considered as they are received. Positions will begin immediately, or as soon as the applicant is available.

A position at Filoha would provide excellent field experience for those interested in pursuing graduate studies in anthropology or biology. A successful volunteer will learn a variety of field techniques in behavioral biology and hormone/genetic sample processing. Filoha is widely regarded to be one of the most challenging primate field sites, and thus a strong recommendation letter after a successful stint at Filoha will impress graduate schools, grant review boards, and future employers.

If you are interested in this position, please submit a letter of application that includes a description of your background and interests, experience, and any questions you may have. Please include a current CV and at least two references with contact information. Please send your correspondence via email to both Larissa Swedell at FilohaHamadryasProject@gmail.com AND Alexis Amann at AAmann@gc.cuny.edu.Contact Information:Larissa SwedellAnthropology, Queens College, 65-30 Kissena BlvdQueens, NY 11367-1597USATelephone Number:718-997-2897Fax Number:718-997-2885Website:http://larissaswedell.org/filohaE-mail Address:FilohaHamadryasProject@gmail.com