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  • Field assistant position: nest monitoring in Eswatini

    Guest Dr Kat Bebbington
    • Employer: Wageningen University and Research
      Location: Mbuluzi Game Reserve
      Country: Swaziland
      Last Date to Apply: 08/31/2023
      Open Until Filled: Yes

    We are looking for a field assistant to join the Social Savanna Project (https://www.behaviouralecology.nl/social-savannah-project) on wild bird populations in Mbuluzi Game Reserve, Eswatini. The broad aim of the Social Savanna project is to perform research on the reproductive and social behaviours of a number of sympatric bird species with different breeding systems in order to understand the evolution and maintenance of animal sociality. The core focus of this specific project will be to monitor reproduction of speckled mousebirds (Colius striatus) and dark-capped bulbuls (Pyctonotus tricolor).

    The field assistant will be stationed at the Savanna Research Centre z(https://www.alloutafrica.org/savannah-research-centre.html) as part of a collaborative research team of PIs, PhD and MSc students and field assistants from the Universities of Wageningen (the Netherlands) and Eswatini (Eswatini). The centre is in a remote but beautiful location and offers basic shared sanitary facilities, a research building and clean but basic tented accommodation and food. Fieldwork is conducted 6 days a week from first light until dusk, mostly on foot and by bike (experience with cycling on dirt tracks and paths is a bonus). The field site can be very challenging; the successful candidate must be able to cope with hot and dry conditions, dense thorny vegetation and biting insects. Although the fieldwork can be tough it is also hugely rewarding; we are looking for someone who relishes these kinds of challenges (as we do!).

    The duties and responsibilities of the field assistant will include:
    - Performing intense transect surveys to locate mousebird and bulbul nests
    - Nest monitoring and recording with cameras
    - Measuring eggs and ringing, sampling and measuring nestlings
    - Conducting standardised vegetation/arthropod surveys
    - Routine maintenance of our radio-tracking system (including downloading data and checking signal receivers in the field)
    - Data entry and management
    - Fieldwork equipment and (basic) vehicle maintenance

    We are looking for candidates who:
    - Have experience ringing and bleeding nestling birds
    - Have experience with finding nests in wild populations
    -Are physically fit and able to cope with long working hours and very physically demanding work in a tough environment
    -Can work independently on their assigned tasks but also work well as part of the larger field team on communal data collection and other group tasks
    -Are happy to live and work in a remote location (there is a small village with shops nearby but opportunities to leave the reserve are limited)

    What we offer:
    - Full payment of accommodation, food and reserve fees at the study site
    - Full compensation for costs of travel to and from the field site
    - Opportunities to learn and practice important research and data collection skills
    - Living and working in a biodiversity hotspot in a beautiful location!

    The position will run for 5 months between mid-August 2023 and mid-January 2024. We are looking to fill this position soon and will stop reviewing applications once a suitable candidate has been found, so we encourage potential candidates to apply ASAP. To apply, please send a brief CV and a cover letter explaining your suitability for the project and relevant work experience to:
    Dr Kat Bebbington, Wageningen University and Research, kat.bebbington@wur.nl

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