Mbeli Baï Research Manager

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WCS - Wildlife Conservation Society


Job Description

Location: Mbeli Bai (Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park – NNNP) Republic of Congo. 

Reports to: NNNP Head of Research & Biomonitoring. 

Start Date: ASAP. 

Position Type: Full-time, 1-year fixed-term contract, renewable. 

Internal liaison: NNNP Research Sites Managers, NNNP Department leads. 

Expected travel: NNNP research sites.  

Organization Background 

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is a US non-profit, private organization established in 1895 that saves wildlife and wild places by understanding critical issues, crafting science-based solutions, and taking conservation actions that benefit nature and humanity. With more than a century of experience, long-term commitments in dozens of landscapes, presence in more than 60 nations, and experience helping to establish over 150 protected areas across the globe, WCS has amassed the biological knowledge, cultural understanding and partnerships to ensure that vibrant, wild places and wildlife thrive alongside local communities. Working with local communities and organizations, that knowledge is applied to address species, habitat and ecosystem management issues critical to improving the quality of life of poor rural people whose livelihoods depend on the direct utilization of natural resources. 

Republic of Congo Program Overview 

Over the past 25 years WCS Congo has been the government’s principal conservation partner, assisting the Ministry of Forest Economy (MEF) in managing wildlife and its habitat in several of the country’s national parks, reserves, and protected area buffer zones. Within these sites WCS is developing and implementing actions for effective wildlife protection, community based natural resource management, ecological monitoring, scientific research, and environmental education. The program is the largest in WCS’s global portfolio and reports to the Regional Program for Central Africa and Gulf of Guinea. WCS Congo’s current portfolio of programs includes the management of the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park through a Public-Private Partnership with the Government of Congo, wildlife management in the substantial buffer zones of the Park, co-management of Lac Tele Community Reserve, a national program to support reform of marine conservation and resource management and a substantial policy support program to the central government in Brazzaville.  

The Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park (NNNP) covers more than 4,000 square kilometers of intact contiguous lowland rainforest in northern Republic of Congo. The Park is the Congolese component of the larger Sangha Tri-National Forest Landscape inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The region is a stronghold for important populations of large mammals, including African forest elephants, western lowland gorillas, and chimpanzees. The park also contains forest clearings that offer a window into the lives of shy forest wildlife, creating fantastic opportunities for tourism development and conservation science.  

Mbeli Bai is a 13-ha large swampy forest clearing in the south-west of NNNP, with minimum levels of disturbance. Since 1995, the Mbeli Bai Study (MBS) has been a long-term conservation program that has provided unique insights into the social organization, bahaviour, and life history of western lowland gorillas, with well over 400 individuals having been identified since the start of the study. These findings have attracted significant international media attention, while the continuous monitoring of individuals provides essential baseline life history data of this critically endangered flagship species. The identification of individual forest elephants is now also bearing fruit, with over 500 individuals now known, and their daily visitation patterns under investigation. 
The MBS aims to continue to enhance our knowledge of western gorillas and ensure the long-term protection of gorillas, forest elephants, and other large mammals in and around the NNNP, through applied research, capacity building of Congolese assistants, raising awareness both locally and internationally, and offering permanent vigilance against potential poaching. 

Job Summary 

We are looking for a rigorous and dynamic Mbeli Bai Research Manager who will be responsible for the management and implementation of a coherent and scientifically rigorous research program, for the supervision of research assistants, students, and volunteers, for the management of the camp, and for the communication of results to donors and the public. They will mainly work closely with the Mbeli team, the NNNP teams and the NNNP Head of Research and Monitoring. The successful candidate will be highly organized, with a strong scientific background, and excellent interpersonal relationship and management skills. 

Responsibilities 

  • Ensure regular collection, entry, cleaning, storage, and back-up of high-quality, accurate data per existing protocols and further develop/improve research protocols and methods applied at the site when relevant.  

  • Analyze MBS data and publish results in peer-reviewed papers. 

  • Provide training, evaluation and oversight to research assistants and students or interns at MBS, and support career development for team members. 

  • Extend the scope of the MBS through the development of research projects and the establishment of collaborations with external research institutes and/or independent researchers. 

  • Overall supervision of the MBS work plan and team; ensure that NNNP safety and health protocols are implemented at the site. 

  • Ensure necessary research equipment is well-maintained and correctly used, advise on procurement of research and camp equipment. 

  • Ensure communication of scientific results to the scientific community, conservation practitioners, and the public. 

  • Provide monthly and annual progress reports to the Head of Research and Monitoring, NNNP; assist with developing fundraising proposals and reports. 

  • Ensure that the camp structures, equipment, and infrastructure are properly maintained and in good working order. 

Qualification Requirements

Requirements 

  • PhD in Biology, Conservation Science or related field; 1+ years postdoctoral experience in relevant field of research is preferred. 

  • Proven track record of tutoring and research dissemination experience. 

  • Project management experience (1+ years). 

  • Demonstrable experience in publishing peer-reviewed papers. 

  • Ability to manage teams, and work in a multicultural context. 

  • Previous experience and willingness to live and work independently in isolated, physically, and psychologically challenging environments. 

  • Previous research or conservation experience in Africa, ideally Central Africa, is highly preferred. 

  • Good communication skills, both written and verbal; English & French required; knowledge of Lingala is an asset. 

  • Effective “roll up the sleeves” work ethic, with attention to detail. 

  • Preferred: first aid certificate  

  • Commitment to the values and mission of the Wildlife Conservation Society.  

    How to apply

    Interested candidates, who meet the above qualifications, skills and experience, should apply through the application tab below by June 30, 2024, but applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis .

     WCS is an equal opportunity employer dedicated to hiring and supporting a diverse workforce. We are committed to cultivating an inclusive work environment and look for future team members who share that same value.

    #LI-SM1

Salary Range

Competitive salary commensurate with experience

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