FIELD RESEARCH ASSISTANT
The Elephants for Landscapes Program aims to monitor long-term population changes in response to environmental change and anthropogenic pressures in Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve. We 1) collect population density and abundance and habitat use data using both walking and driving large mammal transects, 2) conduct individual identification and using capture-mark-recapture to assess density and herd dynamics, 3) record herd group dynamics and characteristics, and 4) conduct a diet analysis using dung. The recognisable individuals and herds form the foundation of our research, allowing us to collect long-term data on interactions and associations between individuals and different groups. This is the first study on the elephant populations in Northern Malawi.
We are looking for two field research assistants who will conduct the fieldwork based out of our research camp at VMWR, working with and reporting to the Research Manager, Mandy Harwood. They will coordinate all research activities, supervise the volunteer program, and manage the research camp in Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve.
The RAs are responsible for:
- Coordinating and conducting field research
- Responsible for ensuring data is accurately collected, input, and stored
- Some data analysis and GIS mapping
Operations and Logistics
- Driving a manual 4×4 vehicle in the bush, responsible for upkeep and maintenance
- Responsible for maintenance of all project equipment (e.g. GPS, data sheets, batteries, etc).
- Responsible for organizing scouts or other site-specific logistics and schedules
- Responsible for organizing resupply and food shopping
Staff and People Management
- Responsible for coordinating, supervision and training of unskilled volunteers (both local and international) who join the program on a regular basis
- Working alongside our Malawian senior field research assistant
- Working closely and cooperatively with other team members representing the project and with partner organizations including Department of National Parks and Wildlife
- Jointly responsible for camp maintenance and upkeep (including fetching water, charging equipment, cleaning, cooking meals, conducting food and kit resupply runs and volunteer pick-ups in nearby Rumphi (45mins drive) and Mzuzu (2hr drive).
Reporting and Budgeting
- Produce bi-monthly project and logistics reports, newsletters, blogs, etc as required
- Be responsible for accurate budget record keeping and reporting
- Conduct all research activities effectively and efficiently to ensure that accepted standards of research and ethical behaviour are always met.
- Deliver other related duties as assigned by the Research Manager.
- Maintain compliance with all LWT policies and procedures, and the laws of Malawi.
- Attend and contribute to project meetings if required
- Be flexible in the hours worked to fluctuating demand
Requirements, Qualification and Experience
- BSc or higher in related field (biology, zoology, conservation, animal behaviour, etc)
- Experience working and living in remote environments, preferably in Africa
- Experience in field based research in remote environments
- Physically fit – able to walk for hours in unfavorable conditions (e.g. heat or rain)
- Good communication skills, for both international volunteers and students and local Malawian staff and DNPW scouts and park management
- Experience in data collection, organization, and analysis
- Experience with manual 4×4 bush driving and valid driving license
- Self-motivated, hard-working, flexible, and enthusiastic for the work; Positive mental attitude, and ability to muck in and get on with it
- Able to work both independently and in a team, as well as live with others
- Must be willing to work on projects where there is an associated risk due to the remote nature of the work, but must never take unnecessary risks that may endanger their life or the lives of their fellow employees and partners and/or hinder project objectives
- Clean criminal record
- Experience in GIS, home range analysis and distance sampling analysis
- Long term experience of field research in Africa (>6 months)
- Post graduate research experience / degree in elephant or primate research, or related field
- Experience with vehicle maintenance
- Project management experience
- Publications in peer reviewed journals
- First aid trained
Vwaza Marsh is a protected area managed by the DNPW in Northern Malawi. It has wildlife including impala, hippos, crocodiles, elephants, hyenas, roan, warthogs, baboons, vervets, bushbabies, kudu, and buffalo, many of which can be seen from our research camp on the edge of Lake Kazuni.
Living is basic in a newly built research camp inside VMWR, in safari tents with beds and shelves. There is good cell and internet signal from camp and solar power for charging electronics, but with no running water. Water is collected from a nearby borehole and stored at camp.
Terms of Position
Support: You will receive a US$200 stipend. Accommodation is provided in Lilongwe and the field sites. Transport inside the country (work-related, e.g. travel from Lilongwe to the field site) is covered by the project. All staff contribute funds to the weekly food resupply (this can vary but is usually 4,000-8,000 mwk/week). Food, personal travel, international flights, visas, vaccinations and medical aid, and insurance are not covered by LWT. You must have international medical insurance with emergency medical evacuation / repatriation covered.
Start Date: ASAP
Term length: 8 months, with option to extend to 1 year.
Application Process and Deadline
Please send a CV and Letter of Interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the title of the position in the subject line of the email. Applications will be accepted until position is filled. Please note that applicants not meeting the required criteria will not receive a reply.