Colobus Conservation Vacancy: Volunteer Wildlife Veterinary Intern - Kenya

Colobus Conservation Vacancy: Volunteer Wildlife Veterinary Intern - Kenya
Project Description and Background
The forest ecosystem of the coastal areas of Kenya and Tanzania is listed as one of the top global biodiversity hotspots by Conservation International.  With high levels of endemic and near endemic species, these forests abound with plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. Included in the primates are the nationally threatened Angolan black and white colobus (Colobus angolensis palliatus). This is a forest and woodland dependent species eating mainly leaves, flowers and fruits with a specially adapted digestive system that enables them to live in their unique environment. Their distinctive appearance has given them a unique place in local cultures and their reducing numbers is partly because they have long been hunted for their skins which have special significance in local African tribal customs. 

Today however, the greatest threat to these primates is habitat destruction. In Kenya the once extensive coastal forests on which the Angolan colobus depend, has been reduced to a fragmented patchwork along a narrow coastal strip. This fragile resource is made up of gazetted forest reserves and conservation areas; community managed forests and woodlands, including culturally important sacred “kaya” forests; and privately owned forest and woodland patches. Sadly, forest loss and degradation is continuing due to pressures from agricultural expansion, urban development, tree cutting for firewood, charcoal, carving wood, and clearance for mining.   

Colobus Conservation was established in 1997 as a not-for-profit organisation to promote conservation of the colobus monkeys and address the threats to its survival. The organization works in partnership with local communities to promote the conservation of the colobus, along with other endemic primate species, and the unique coastal forest habitat on which they depend. Today Colobus Conservation programmes focus on habitat conservation and community linkages as well as human/primate conflict management, welfare, education and research. The objectives and work of Colobus Conservation is recognised internationally by AZA Colobus Species Survival Plan (SSP), Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) accreditation and are supported by well known conservationists Jonathon and Angela Scott through their role as Patrons. 

Colobus Conservations objectives are met by projects working on three levels; 
  • individual care
  • population management
  • and meta – population dynamics 

    Individual Care
    Colobus Conservation prides itself on the one to one dedication for the animals in our care which has lead to the following successes:
  • Colobus hand rearing - In 2011 Colobus Conservation successfully hand reared the world’s first Angolan colobus monkey in a zoo or sanctuary setting. This individual along with a second orphaned Angolan colobus is currently being prepared for re- introduction to the wild, attending ‘forest school’ up to 8 hours a day learning movement and feeding skills, predator awareness and meeting the troop they will one day be released into. This story has appeared in several publications both nationally and internationally and has also appeared on BBC television. 
  • Primate Rescue - Colobus Conservation operates a 24hr hotline and responds to welfare cases for all Diani primate species. Frequently these are road injuries, electrocution, snares and cases of animal  cruelty. We have a veterinarian clinic and quarantine facility on site for when cases require intervention.
  • Short-term Injury Care and Rehabilitation – Whenever feasible, Colobus Conservation treats and returns the sick or injured primate to its home troop within a few days. There is minimal contact between wild monkeys in for treatment and Colobus Conservation staff to prevent the individual becoming habituated to humans.
  • Colobus Reconnection – In cases of abandoned colobus infants every effort is invested in reconnecting the infant with its family troop. Often infants are ‘lost or stolen’ during intertroop aggressive encounters rather than orphaned or abandoned by a sick mother. A recent successful reconnection is featured in SWARA July 2013 publication.
  • Long-term Rehabilitation and Reintroduction – In cases where individuals are not suitable for a quick release, for example young orphans who cannot be reconnected or ex pet monkeys, the individuals’ enter long term rehabilitation for reintroduction. Colobus Conservation’s latest rehabilitation and reintroduction programme of orphaned and ex- pet vervet and Sykes monkeys has a 75% survival rate one year post release, with additional wild births, emigration of wild males and immigration of females in to wild troops. The rehabilitation and reintroduction programme follows best practice IUCN guidelines including pre-release training and extensive post release monitoring with adaptations when required due to our urbanized environment. This research is currently under analysis for a Doctoral thesis and scientific publications will be prepared in due course. 

    Population Management
    Protection and human-primate conflict management is targeted at the Diani area of Kwale district. This location is Colobus Conservation’s focus area as it contains Kenyan’s second largest population of Angolan colobus monkeys with 420 individuals counted during our 2012 census. Shimba Hills holds Kenya’s largest population of Angolan colobus monkeys and as a gazetted National Reserve is under the protection Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

    Within Diani Colobus Conservation aims to:
  • Reduce primate road traffic injuries – Since 1997 Colobus Conservation has installed primate canopy bridges at critical road crossing points along the main Diani road that bisects the primate habitat. At present Colobus Conservation has erected and maintains 32 canopy bridges.  
  • Reduce incidents of primate electrocutions - Colobus Conservation regularly trims trees growing alongside the power lines and where possible, in conjunction with the Kenya Power and Lighting Company, insulates them using PVC covering. 
  • Reduce incidents of pest primates – Diani primates have adapted to their increasingly urban environment by stealing food from tourists, hotel and residential kitchens, and waste sites. Due to this local residents and hoteliers alike have found that the monkeys are a nuisance and some have resorted to control measures that have proven both ineffective and inhumane. Colobus Conservation works with those people affected to design effective and humane deterrents that actually work.
  • Colobus Corridor - Over 80% of the Diani's forest has already been lost to developments during the last 25 years and the remaining forest patches are fragmented and isolated. Colobus Conservation endeavours to enhance these fragmented and isolated forest patches by encouraging hotel owners and local residents to replenish the natural environment with indigenous trees. 
  • Education - Weekly education workshops are hosted, teaching children and teachers about the beauty of the wildlife surrounding them and the importance of the forest. In addition, Colobus Conservation has an information and education centre, which is also open to the public.
  • Research - Key conservation issues are addressed by working in partnership with national and international universities and other research bodies and by promoting information sharing.

    Meta-population Dynamics
    Within Kenya the Angolan colobus monkey is now only found in Kwale district after local extinctions in the Kilifi and Mombasa Districts. In order to preserve this last remaining meta-population, Colobus Conservation is developing projects focusing on habitat conservation on a district wide scale to achieve:-
  • Support for community involvement in forest and primate conservation.
  • Promote tree planting aimed at improving degraded forests and woodlands all over the district.
  • Strengthen the capacity of community elders to protect and manage the Kaya sacred forests through activities such as provision of technical advice, lobbying support, education and training activities.
  • Target forest adjacent communities and schools with environmental education programmes to raise awareness of biodiversity values and advocate against forest destruction and poaching.
  • Promote the development of sustained livelihoods around forests, including non-destructive uses of forests such as beekeeping. 

    JOB TITLE: Voluntary Wildlife Veterinary Intern
    RESPONSIBLE TO: Conservation Manager

  • Five and a half days a week 8am – 5pm with a 1 hour lunch break.
  • Days off to be taken on week days i.e. Monday - Friday.
  • Additional on call as arranged with the Conservation Manager.
  • Days off can be variable with prior arrangement, but is ideally should be a week days.

    Ensuring that the veterinary and animal welfare aspects of Colobus Conservation are carried out in accordance with the Kenya Veterinary Board (KVB), PASA and the CC's policies and procedures in order to achieve the highest quality animal care possible.

    Veterinary Procedures
  • Manage and administer the treatment and daily care of all sick and injured animals in the care of Colobus Conservation, including primates in the long term rehabilitation programme under the guidance of the offsite consultant Vet;
  • Carry out the storage of drugs in the veterinary clinic to the standards of the KVB, and Colobus Conservation’s policies and procedures;
  • Carry out the cleaning of the veterinary clinic to the standards of the KVB, PASA and Colobus Conservation’s policies and procedures;
  • Follow the health and safety guidelines for animal handling;
  • Carry out weekly stock take of drugs and materials and reorder as necessary;
  • Ensure procedural documents on hand for cases of emergency outbreaks inside the facility or outside (in Diani) with regular review and updating of key contacts;
  • Comply to the comprehensive record keeping systems, computer and paper copies; including, but not limited to, Incident Report Sheet, Anaesthesia Record, Medical Records, Necropsy Report, Primate Release Form

    Animal Welfare (wild animal capture)
  • Respond to animal welfare calls in a timely basis and assist Colobus Conservations welfare response team as required;
  • Follow the Field Procedures manual in the assessment, capture and release of all animals;
  • Follow the Animal Welfare manual for the treatment of all animals;
  • Implement comprehensive record keeping systems, computer and paper copies;

    Captive Animal Care (on-site rehabilitation animals)
  • Feed and clean animals in care daily as per Colobus Conservation policies and procedures in collaboration with the Animal Care Officer and with the assistance of volunteers;
  • Take charge of the daily animal care responsibilities on days when the Animal Care Officer is not available (namely Sunday and any off periods)
  • Follow special procedures for neonates, pregnant and lactating animals;
  • Co-ordinate the socialisation of new rehabilitations monkeys into pre-release groups under guidance from the Conservation Manager and alongside the Animal Care Officer;
  • Intervention methods implemented for the post release vervet and Sykes – this action must always be discussed with the Conservation Manager prior to any treatment being given.

    Veterinary Projects
  • Liaise with Diani hospitals on any infectious diseases that may affect the primates of Diani or infectious diseases in the primate population that may be a risk to people;
  • Co-ordinate and conduct parasite analysis of Diani's wild primates;
  • Co-ordinate and conduct histology research in to diseases prevalent in the Diani primate population;
  • Co-ordinate the burial, exhumation, cleaning and storage of colobus skeletons for a USA based research project
  • Write proposals for development of the veterinary facilities;
  • Write daily blogs, news feeds and Facebook/Twitter updates of Colobus Conservations achievements for all associated on-line sites;
  • Produce papers for publication in collaboration with the Conservation Manager and Scientific Director
  • Carry out training as necessary to staff and volunteers;

    Additional Responsibilities
  • Participate in eco-tours when necessary;
  • Update the Conservation Manager as equipment wears out so repairs and replacements can be arranged
  • Perform any other duties as may be assigned by management from time to time.

    NB The amount of veterinary work is highly variable throughout the course of the year and depends on the admission of sick or injured wild animals. On average Colobus Conservation receives 175 wildlife cases per year, however numbers can be as low as 4 cases per month in quieter times up to three cases per day in busier periods.

    Qualifications and Experience
  • Essential requirements
  • Veterinary Medicine Qualification;
  • Foreign travel or living/work experience, within a developing country and ideally the tropics;
  • Interest in animal behaviour, conservation and welfare;
  • Ability to commit for six months;
  • Prepared to get involved in non-veterinary related projects;
  • High degree of flexibility

    In addition, applicants must have certain QUALITIES: they must be energetic, patient, open, responsible, flexible, healthy, able to work independently but also as part of a team, be highly motivated and not easily distracted by the holiday mentality found in Diani as a tourist destination.

    Applicants must also be hardworking and able to keep going, and do so cheerfully! Our schedule is demanding and unconventional. The position is not ideal for someone who needs a lot of personal time, or for someone who easily feels lonely. The ideal applicant must be comfortable being unplugged and at a distance from easy communication with the outside world, although there is good mobile phone and e-mail communication, sometimes things just don't work.

    They must also have above average resistance to social/psychological stress with a tolerance towards local customs and beliefs and be comfortable with conditions and risks that are simply part of tropical fieldwork, such as limited healthcare, monotonous diet, rare confrontations with noxious plants or animals.

    Please apply by sending your C.V. including e-mail contact details for two referees, your dates of interest and certificates of qualification.

    Colobus Conservation Accommodation
    Colobus Conservation offers a unique opportunity to live in a beautiful beach and forested area, with many western comforts due to the nature of this tourist destination. Our accommodation comprises;
  • four bed single sex bedrooms in a communal house,
  • hot/cold showers,
  • food for 3 meals a day, lunch and dinner Monday - Saturday is prepared for you by our Chef. Sunday food is provided but you cook your own meals,
  • laundry and housekeeping,
  • security
  • drinking water
    There is good mobile phone and internet coverage, and using Sarfricom, the local network supplier, text messages to the UK are very cheap (approx 8p). This accommodation is also used for the Colobus Conservation volunteer programme, and as such there may be up to 12 people sharing the facilities at any one time. Many of the volunteers on this programme are not serious researches or qualified personnel and as such will be performing different duties and working different hours. Any person accepting this position needs to be aware of these differences.

    This is a volunteer position and as such no wage or stipend is available. The volunteer is responsible for their return flight to Mombasa, visa (which will need extending after 3 months for an additional 3 months), comprehensive travel and medical insurance, all field clothing, including adequate walking boots and airport transfers. In return for a 6 month commitment Colobus Conservation will provide 3 meals a day and accommodation for the Wildlife Veterinary Intern without charge in return for the above duties being fulfilled. Applications of less than six months will be considered but in these cases the intern is requested to contribute towards the costs of their accommodation at 100 Euros per week – normal rate 250 Euro per week.

    Closing Date: 31/08/2014