Volunteer Field Manager for Filoha Hamadryas Project in Ethiopia

2017.11.16 20:45

The Filoha Project is seeking a volunteer field manager for a long-term study of hamadryas baboons at the Filoha study site in the lowlands of central Ethiopia. The primary responsibility of the field manager is to coordinate the field team so as to maintain habituation of the study group through all-day follows (5-15 km/day), conduct a daily census of the study group, collect behavioural and reproductive data and collect and process fecal samples for genetic and hormone analyses in Filoha’s field laboratory. The field manager oversees the field assistants and local staff so as to achieve these tasks, spearheads project and field site organization and maintenance, and sends regular reports to the PI.

The Filoha field site is based at the most northerly outpost of the Awash National Park. The area is hot and dry (averaging 94 degrees F). Living conditions at Filoha are very simple and rugged. The area experiences occasional ethnic conflict, during which baboon follows are suspended. Prior to departure, volunteers would need to arrange for their Ethiopian visa, vaccines, any anti-malarial prophylaxis desired, and travel insurance that includes medical evacuation.


Hamadryas baboons are characterized by a unique multi-level and male-dominated social system, and Filoha is the only currently operational long-term field site where members of this species are individually identified and habituated. Filoha is studying various aspects of hamadryas baboon social behaviour, ecology, genetics, and physiology. Depending on length of stay, amount and quality of data collected, and other intellectual contributions to the project, this position could potentially lead to co-authorship on a publication.

In general, volunteers at Filoha need to be physically fit (the baboons often travel quickly over rough terrain) and able to collect data under the conditions described above. Due to the remoteness of the field site and the lack of communication infrastructure, volunteers must also be of sound physical and mental health without any pre-existing conditions that might require immediate medical attention. Volunteers must also be able and willing to maintain professional relationships with people of varied cultural backgrounds and cope with disruptions to fieldwork due to possible ethnic conflict and other factors out of one's control.

The ideal candidate:

Excellent communication and organizational skills.

Excellent people management skills.

Ability to adapt to the local cultural milieu and represent the project in a professional manner.

Experience collecting observational data on behavioural biology or ecology.

Experience with laboratory research in the biological sciences.

International field experience that includes living or traveling in a developing country.

A desire to learn new languages for maximum ease of communication.

Excellent physical and mental health.

Ability to withstand rugged and remote field conditions.

A strong interest in animal behaviour and conservation.


Additional items:

Emergency medical training, construction and/or car maintenance skills, and the ability to a drive manual transmission vehicle.

Prior coursework in (and knowledge of) primate behaviour and ecology.


Salary: None. Volunteer position.

For the field manager position, the project will reimburse the following previously-approved expenses after successful completion of fieldwork for an agreed upon amount of time (usually six months): airfare, medical evacuation insurance, visa fees, and a US$ 1000 research fee to the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority. Local transportation and simple subsistence at the field site will be covered up front by the project. (Local travel and food at the field site will be covered by the project. International travel expenses will be reimbursed after successful completion of fieldwork.)

The position would begin in April or May 2017 and would entail a commitment of 14 months. Applications will be considered as they are received.

Please submit an application letter that includes a description of your background, interests, and experience as well as any questions you may have. Please include a current CV and at least two references with contact information. Please send your correspondence via email to Larissa Swedell at FilohaHamadryasProject@gmail.com.

More information: https://pin.primate.wisc.edu/jobs/listings/38136 and https://larissaswedell.org/filoha