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Primate Research Interns: Primate Research and Conservation Project in Amazonian Peru

Hiring Organization:
Fauna Forever

Date Posted:

Position Description:
Fauna Forever has been studying wild primate populations in the lowland tropical rainforests of the Madre de Dios region in the Peruvian Amazon since 1997. The region has 18 species of primate, namely: Red howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus); Bolivian red howler monkey (Alouatta sara); Peruvian back spider monkey (Ateles chamek); Common woolly monkey (Lagothrix lagotricha); Brown or Black-capped capuchin (Cebus or Sapajus apella); White-fronted capuchin (Cebus albifrons); Common squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciurus); Bolivian squirrel monkey (Saimiri boliviensis); Rio Tapajos saki monkey (Pithecia irrorata); Black-headed night monkey (Aotus nigriceps); Brown titi monkey (Callicebus brunneus); Golden palace titi monkey (Callicebus aureipalatii); Saddleback tamarin (Saguinus fuscicollis weddelli); Emperor tamarin (Saguinus imperator); Moustached tamarin (Saguinus mystax); Black-mantled tamarin (Saguinus nigricollis); Pygmy marmoset (Cebuella pygmaea); and Goeldi?s monkey (Callimico goeldii).

The objectives of our Primate Research Team are to (1) understand the density and population dynamics of 10 species of monkey; (2) understand the activity patterns, behaviour (inter- and intra-specific), and dietary preferences of these species; (3) estimate the home range area of focal groups; (4) identify the factors that help explain the variation in home range area for each species within and between sites; and (5) identify the key threats to primates at each of over 30 sites so that these can be addressed with forest managers and landowners.

A map of Fauna Forever?s wildlife research sites, which include primate study sites, can be found here:

During 2019, we will be focusing our primate research efforts at the following field sites in Madre de Dios, Peru: Secret Forest Station (SFO), The Neotropical Station (TNS), Explorer?s Inn (EI), Venado Station (VEN), Wasai Lodge (WAS), Las Piedras Amazon Center (LPAC), El Gato (BAL), and Malinowski Camp (MCA). Our main training center is Secret Forest Station, located on the banks of the Tambopata River within the buffer zone of the Tambopata National Reserve and Bahuaja Sonene National Park. The station has accommodation for around 20 people, bathrooms with showers and flush toilets, gas stove, fridge, tapped water, solar powered electricity, and cell-phone signal (for internet use). It takes about 3 hours to get to the station from the gateway city of Puerto Maldonado (which is served by daily flights from Lima and Cusco).

Intern Activities
The majority of your time will involve working alongside the primate specialists and conservation biologists who lead the team, locating primate groups and assisting with standardized data collection procedures. Some of the main activities in this respect include:
1. Observing behaviours of focal individuals and collecting samples of fruit material and other dietary items for identification, during half or full day follows of habituated and semi-habituated study groups;
2. Tracking the movement of focal troops using handheld GPS equipment during follows, and mapping these movement patterns in a GIS program to help work out home range patterns and areas for each troop;
3. Tagging and geo-locating the principal feeding trees within the home range of each focal group;
4. Surveying vegetation characteristics (tree diversity, density, height) within botanical plots;
5. Identifying and habituating new focal troops (usually those neighbouring existing study groups).
6. General photography of focal individuals, dietary items, feeding trees, and so forth;
7. Entering data into databases on our field computers;
8. Other tasks identified by the team coordinators that are not listed here.

With other wildlife teams undertaking research in the forests surrounding each site, it is also possible for interns of the Primate Research Team to assist some of these teams for short periods (a few days at a time), with the permission of the respective team coordinators. Other active teams include: mammal and bat teams, bird and raptor teams, herpetofauna team, invertebrate team, forest ranger team, and community development teams.

We are looking for students or recent graduates who are passionate about fieldwork, positively minded even when environmental conditions are tough (e.g. high humidity, heavy rainfall), enjoy working within a team in a multi-cultural and multi-lingual atmosphere (although all participants speak English), and are excited about being involved in long-term research and forest conservation work in a megadiverse country like Peru. Ideal candidates will be studying or would have studied an environmental science subject (biology, zoology, ecology, environmental systems, etc.); will be fit and healthy and able to walk 5-10 km per day in sometimes thick forest habitats carrying a day pack full of equipment and supplies; will have a good sense of direction (and know how to read a map); will be able to follow instructions from team coordinators well; and will be able to get up very early on most days (usually before dawn) and motivate fellow team members to do the same.

Due to the limited nature of our central funds, which are destined to the focal costs of each of our main projects, we require that successful candidate interns cover their in-country costs in Peru associated with accommodation, meals, local transport, equipment, research permits, training, certificates, and so forth. These fees range from US$50-70 per day (all inclusive), depending on the length of stay. Groups of students (2-4) that come together can expect significant discounts as the fixed costs can be spread out among them.

Support provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging):
See above

Term of Appointment:
Minimum 1 month, maximum 3 months

Application Deadline:
Candidates can apply year round, and we select people until the places are filled (usually 4-6 intern vacancies per year)

Applicants should apply via our online application form ( Select ?Primate Team? and provide as much relevant background information as possible. During the screening process we may ask for a copy of someone CV or reference contact details. If for any reason the application form is not accessible, then please send a cover letter and a CV to our central email address:

Contact Information:
Chris Kirkby
Gonzales Prada 161
Puerto Maldonado, Madre de Dios 17000

Telephone Number:
+51 993915158

Fax Number:


E-mail Address:

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