Field Assistant for Filoha Hamadryas Project

Filoha outpost, Awash National Park, Ethiopia
Volunteer position.
Apr 24, 2018
Jun 24, 2018
Job Level
Entry level
Employment Type
Salary Type

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, to begin in June or July 2018 for a period of at least six months, preferably longer.  Field assistants at Filoha are part of a field team that is responsible for all-day follows (5-15 km/day) of baboons, daily census of the study group, collection of behavioral and reproductive data, and collection and processing of fecal samples for genetic and hormone analyses in our field laboratory.  Field assistants are accompanied by one of our current graduate students, 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 that includes medical evacuation.


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:


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 at Filoha need to be physically fit 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.


Ideally, applicants 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.

* 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!



This is a volunteer position, so 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.  In addition, each person should allow about $200 per month for living expenses while in Ethiopia.


Term of Appointment:

We prefer a commitment of at least 8–10 months, but individual time frames are negotiated separately.  Positions may begin as early as May 201


Application Deadline:

Applications will be considered as they are received.


Application Instructions:

If you are interested in a volunteer position at Filoha, 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, copied to both Dr. Larissa Swedell at and Ms. Alexis Amann at