Volunteer Field Assistant Required
Mauritius Reptile Recovery Programme
Project background The Mauritius Reptile Recovery Programme is run jointly by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF), Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the National Parks and Conservation Service. The programme was started in 2006, but is built upon three decades of island restoration work by the project partners.
Mauritius was once home to one of the world’s richest reptile diversities, which was integral to the pristine ecosystem. Following the island’s colonisation in the 16th Century numerous non-native species have been introduced and most of the natural Mauritian forests have been destroyed. These disturbances caused the loss of more than 60% of Mauritian reptile species from the main island. Several species went extinct, but some managed to remain on one or a few of the offshore islands. To enhance their survival and restore missing ecological processes we have been restoring endemic reptile species back to islands that have been made safe for their return. Using a mixture of translocations, captive breeding and intensive monitoring we have reduced the risks of extinction for a number of reptile species. For example, the Telfair’s skink and Günther’s gecko, have recently been translocated to the island Nature Reserve Ile aux Aigrettes.
Ile aux Aigrettes is a small lagoon island (26ha) where conservation activities have been ongoing since the 1980s to restore the endangered fauna and flora of Mauritius. The island has a field station, which is permanently occupied by approximately ten staff and volunteers. The MWF also operate ecotourism and educational activities on the island.
The position We are looking for a highly self-motivated and conscientious volunteer to work on Ile aux Aigrettes and assist the reptile team to:
- Monitor the health, distribution and abundance of the Telfair’s skink and Günther’s gecko populations
- Enhance skink productivity through egg incubation, rearing of young and their food
- Search for and monitor Günther’s gecko nest sites and eggs
- Ensure the island is free from invasive predators through monthly monitoring and trapping
The work involves intensive systematic searches throughout the forest on the island, reptile capture, handling and assessment of condition and health. Invasive species control is an ongoing and important component of the work. Accurate data collection/entry and reporting are a necessity and the volunteer will be expected to talk to tourists/visitors about their work and assist with VIP tours and student workshops on the island. The volunteer will receive training and guidance from the reptile team.
Requirements Applicants will need to:
- Have recently gained a BSc in the biological sciences and have a keen interest in herpetology
- Be physically fit and able to stay focused on repetitive work in a hot and humid environment
- Be ready to adapt to unforeseen circumstances with initiative and due care
- Have good written and spoken English
- Have a sound knowledge of spreadsheet applications and data management
- A working knowledge of programmes R, Mark, Distance and GIS software preferred, but not essential
- A full clean driving license is preferred
We need the volunteer to commit for a six to twelve month period from September 2015. They would be required to pay for their own return airfare and must have comprehensive insurance cover (including repatriation) for the duration of their stay. There will be a one off charge of approx £50 for a basic medical upon entry and approximately £150 to £200 per month will be needed to cover costs for food, socialising and personal items. Personal equipment needs are basic (eg work clothes, good boots, sun protection, reliable watch, LED head torch, thin sleeping bag and/or bed sheet, mosquito net, mobile phone). Accommodation and transport between MWF sites is provided.
To apply: please send a CV (resume) and a covering letter, by email to Susan.Brayshaw@durrell.org
The selection process will involve short-listing and a Skype interview for the short-listed candidates with Dr Nik Cole, Islands Restoration Manager. Closing date for applications: 10th May 2015.
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