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Positions Available

Volunteer field assistant

Hiring Organization:
Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Primate Kin Selection group

Date Posted:

Position Description:
We are looking for a volunteer field assistant helping with a PhD project investigating social learning patterns and culture of wild Sumatran orangutans. The work of the volunteer will include collecting behavioral data, the collection of fecal samples, helping with archiving and organizing data at camp, as well as helping with collective work at the research station such as phenology work and nest counts. Further, Volunteers might be trained in tree-climbing to document orangutans nests.

The study is conducted at the Soraya Research Camp, Aceh Selatan, Sumatra, Indonesia. Most data collection will be carried out in the form of nest to nest follows of the focal animals, through the lowland rainforest. Follow days will be physically and mentally challenging: camp will be left before dawn, followed by an up to 1.5 hours walk to the nest position and then full day observation by following the focal animal through the study area until the evening nest around dusk.

The volunteers will be accommodated in a basic camp together with students, other researchers and local field assistants. There is no hot water at camp as well as no electricity apart from generator power for some hours in the evening. It takes a 15 minute walk from camp to get cell phone signal, but there is no internet. Most people work on a schedule where they do at least 3 days of forest work, one camp day and then 3 days of forest work again. Soraya Station is situated in lowland rainforest in the Gunung Leuser national park complex, one of the last remaining intact areas, where Sumatran orangutans coexist with Asian elephants, gibbons, siamangs, tigers and rhinos. Students might conduct small own research projects within the framework of the doctoral thesis, given their main supervisors will provide the necessary guidance during the write up phase.

This project is a collaboration between the nongovernmental organization FKL (Forum Konservasi Leuser), the Jr. Research Group Primate Kin Selection, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology & Institute of Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Leipzig, Germany, as well as the Evolutionary Genetics Group, Department of Anthropology, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Applicants should:

- Preferably have a background or profound interest in Biology
- Have experience with field work
- Be in excellent physical condition as the work in the forest is physically demanding: it includes long walks through the tropical forest, getting up early and long work days
- Be ready to live under very basic conditions and closely together with a small team of dedicated international researcher and local field assistants on confined space
- Be resistant to social and psychological stress
- Be able to live remote and isolated, with limited contact to the outside world
- Be experienced with traveling and living in foreign countries and cultures
- Have good observing skills including patience, persistence and a high level of attention to detail
- Be ready to work independently and flexibly come up with creative solutions to emerging problems
- Be willing to learn the local language Bahasa Indonesia as the local staff speak very little English only
- Be ready to travel independently in Indonesia and go through a lengthy permit process in different cities
- Be motivated, energetic and have the ability to maintain a positive attitude towards tiring and exhausting work

All Travel, permits and accommodation costs in Jakarta and Medan will be covered after the completion of a minimum stay of 8 months.

Support provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging):
Volunteers will be responsible for paying their own health insurance and for obtaining all required vaccinations. Furthermore, volunteers will have to pay a monthly camp fee to the Soraya station (this does not apply for Indonesian volunteers). Camp fees are approximately 230 Euro per person/months and include accommodation, food, and fees paid to the local village. If additional funding can be secured over the course of the year 2019 by the main investigator, a monthly contribution to the volunteers` camp fees will be awarded, after completion of a 12 months stay.

Term of Appointment:
Start: January 2019, 12 months or longer.

Application Deadline:
Deadline: 21.11.2018 - until filled

Interested applicants can send their CV, a short letter of motivation (maximally one page) and contact information of two references to: Julia Mörchen

Contact Information:
Julia Mörchen
Deutscher Platz 6
Leipzig, none D-04103

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