Volunteering in South Africa ~ Bioblogia.net

16 de diciembre de 2009

Volunteering in South Africa

Volunteers needed as field assistants for the project:
Evolution and Socio-Ecology of small Mammals in the Succulent Karoo of South Africa
From May 2010 onwards

Opportunity: This is a great opportunity for anybody who wants to get more experience in field work relating to evolution, ecology and behavior before starting an MsC or PhD project.
Project: We study the evolutionary and ecological reasons of group living, paternal care, communal nesting and social flexibility in the striped mouse. As this species is diurnal and the habitat is open, direct behavioral observations in the field are possible.
What kind of people are needed? Biology/zoology/veterinary students are preferred as candidates. Applicants must have an interest in working in the field and with animals. Hard working conditions will await applicants, as the study species gets up with sunrise (between 5 and 6 o` clock), and stops its activity with dusk (19 o` clock). Work during nights might also be necessary. Work in the field will be done for 5 days a week. Applicants must be able to manage extreme temperatures (below 0 at night in winter, sometimes over 40°C during summer days). Applicants must both be prepared to live for long periods in the loneliness of the field and to be part of a small group.

Work of field assistants: Trapping, marking and radio-tracking of striped mice; direct behavioral observations in the field. Volunteers are also expected to help with maintenance of the research station (water pump, solar power, etc.)
Confirmation letter: Students get a letter of confirmation about their work and can prepare a report of their own small project to get credit points from their university for their bachelor or masters studies.
Costs: Students have to arrange their transport to the field site themselves. Per month, an amount of Rand 1000 (around 90 Euro) must be paid for accommodation at the research station. For students with their own undergraduate project, a fee of Rand 1250 (approx. 110 Euro) per month applies. Students must buy their own food etc in Springbok (costs of about R 2000 or 170 Euro/month). Including extras, you should expect costs of about 300 Euros per month. Students get an invitation letter which they can use to apply for funding in their home country (eg. DAAD in Germany, SANW in Switzerland).
Place: The field site is in the Goegap Nature Reserve near Springbok in the North-West of South Africa. The vegetation consists of Succulent Karoo, which has been recognized as one of 25 hotspots of biodiversity. It is a desert to semi-desert with rain mainly in winter (June to September).
When and how long: At the moment we are looking for volunteers to start in May 2010 and especially for the period June to November 2010. Volunteers are expected to stay at least 2 months, but longer periods of up to 6months are preferred.

How to apply? Send a short motivation letter stating why and for which period you are interested and your CV via email to carsten.schradin@zool.uzh.ch.

More information under www.stripedmouse.com
Contact via e-mail: carsten.schradin@zool.uzh.ch

Dr. Carsten SchradinResearch Assistant, Zoological Institute, Department of Animal Behavior,University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.Tel: +41 - (0)44 635 5486
Honorary Researcher at the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences,University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Working as a field assistant in Goegap Nature Reserve

A report by Romy Höppli, student at the University of Zurich, who staid in Goegap June to August 2008

Blue skies without a single cloud for six weeks – rocky mountains with little vegetation – yellow, orange and pink fields of flowers in whatever direction you look – small mammals, lizards and birds in our front yard and Mountain Zebras, Springbok and Ostrich right next door...
This was my time at the Succulent Karoo Research Station in Goegap Nature Reserve in South Africa! During six weeks from the beginning of July until the middle of August I've been living here, studying mice, experiencing nature like never before and being part of a small community where there was always something to laugh and joke about!
After arriving in Goegap, right the next morning my scientific adventure in South Africa began: Setting and checking traps, nest observations and radio-tracking were our daily routine. While I got bitten by the mice quite often in the beginning and my right middle finger was scarred all over, I improved quickly shaking the mice out of the traps, weighing them and checking the number of the ear tag. Other duties like cleaning the cages of the mice in the captive colony, washing the dirt from probably several months out of the traps, painting the new Wendy House and putting in a floor and curtains quickly added to our daily field work activities.
It was never boring in Goegap! There was always something to do: studying the striped mouse, listening to the interesting and funny stories every member could tell or just enjoying the time while reading a book or writing e-mails to friends to tell them about this unique experience. Here, the weekly trip back to 'civilization' in Springbok for shopping, sending e-mails and having lunch at „Nando's“ - the best (Portuguese) fast food I ever tasted - was always a highlight and the occasional trip to „Beaver's“, the towns funniest pub, where all the locals went to, was a good opportunity to dance, make party and enjoy the relaxed South African way of life!
My six weeks down here were full of great experiences and I enjoyed every single day! Hopefully, I will be able to come back to Goegap Nature Reserve one day!

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