Field managers

applications are CLOSED

estimated opening date : 2023-01-15

Every year, the Sociable Weaver Project hires two field managers to oversee different aspects of the project’s fieldwork and monitor reproduction. We provide the job description below:


Context

The Sociable weaver research program is a long-term project that uses the sociable weaver population at Benfontein Nature Reserve as a model to study the evolution and maintenance of cooperation. Monitoring of sociable weavers on the reserve goes back to 1993.

Benfontein Nature Reserve (property of De Beers mining company) is situated ca. 15 minutes’ drive from Kimberley (South Africa) and is a 12000 ha reserve on the edge of the Kalahari ecosystem. There is very good birding in the reserve (check ebird ) and several antelopes and some iconic mammals (aartvark, aardwolf, bat-eared foxes), but there are no large carnivores and hence the reserve is safe for fieldworkers. There are, however, venomous snakes (Cape cobras, Boomslangs and Puff adders) especially in and around the sociable weaver colonies! Therefore, to work at Benfontein it is important not to have a snake phobia and also to respect strict safety rules to prevent any accidents.

People in our research group reside at the Research Station within the reserve, a spacious (but shared) house with office area and a garage/workshop. The project has its own field vehicles that are used to reach the study area (located 15-20 minutes away in the South of the reserve) and to access the sociable weaver nests.

Job description

Project managers work in teams of two and are responsible for breeding monitoring, but also for overseeing the different field activities, including coordination of the field team (students and assistants) and being responsible for the equipment and field admin.

The breeding monitoring work involves regular nest checks (conducted from a platform on top of a vehicle), marking and weighing eggs and chicks, ringing and taking blood samples from chicks and deploying videocameras to collect data on individual behaviour. In addition, upon returning from the field each day, it is necessary to download the data and videos recorded, as well as planning and prepare things for the next day. The work conducted back at the house constitutes a non-negligible part of the managers’ work.

Sociable weavers tend to breed opportunistically, depending on conditions. We currently monitor 10 colonies and some can have >60 nests. Hence, during peaks of breeding activity, the work days can be very long.

Captures: We capture the resident birds at each colony every year, before the onset of breeding activity (using mistnets) in order to track immigrants, replace colour rings, take blood samples, etc. The whole colony is captured at the same time, and hence a large team is needed for these captures. The field managers also participate in this process and having good mistnetting experience and animal welfare certification are advantageous.

Living conditions: The team lives and works together in a remote place. It is important to be able to endure long working hours and intensive rhythm in the field while sharing communal tasks and life at the house. The field team size can vary, typically 8-10 people between August and September down to 3-5 from November to July. Usually the team is international and good English knowledge is essential.

Snakes and heights: Given the frequency of encounters with snakes, fieldworkers should not have a snake phobia. In addition, the work often requires working on an elevated platform (on top of a vehicle) and sometimes using a step-ladder. As a consequence, the job is not well suited to people that suffer from vertigo or are afraid of heights.

Driving: All fieldwork at the project requires the use of vehicles in dirt roads. The roads do not require using 4×4 vehicles, but good driving skills are important. In addition, general vehicle checks and basic maintenance are part of the duties of anyone in the fieldteam.

Admin work: Part of the managers’ tasks is to be in charge of administrative work (e.g. enter expenses in a datafile, archive receipts) and deal with purchases when needs arise.

Required:

  • Driver’s license and good driving skills
  • Being available for 6-8 months minimum
  • Previous fieldwork experience
  • Experience in handling, ringing and collecting blood samples from birds
  • Being highly organised
  • Team work experience
  • Good interpersonnal skills
  • No snake phobia or fear of heights
  • Not being colourblind (as the work requires putting colour-rings on birds)

Desired skills:

  • Previous experience with reproduction monitoring of wild animals
  • Good computer skills and being at ease with electronic material
  • Good aptitude for troubleshooting

Covered by the project:

  • Accommodation
  • Travelling to and from Benfontein
  • Insurance
  • Stipend

The project will not consider applications outside opening dates. We recommend that you check regularly for changes.

In order to complete your application please download and join the following form with your CV and motivation letter and send them to us (as an alternative, you can select ‘copy email address’ using right clic). If your application is selected, we will contact you for an interview.


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