Research

A critical part of our work is the research we undertake at all our project sites. Interns work closely with our technicians on the collection and analysis of data. Participants are also actively involved in the creation of new studies, monitoring existing ones, and creating reports that reflect the progress of each research program. 

This position will give you the opportunity to work on studies on a number of flora and fauna* including lions and elephants.  

What can I expect?

Long days!!  The working day typically starts at 6.00am and finishes around 12 hours later with breaks for breakfast and lunch.  Interns are expected to work five days per week.

One focus of the Research internship is collecting data on the lions in the release stages of the African Lion Rehabilitation & Release into the Wild Program.  Projects vary from site to site, but you may also be involved in research in other areas of the ALERT programme; such as large predator studies, entomology, conservation education, literacy testing in schools, land management and husbandry practices, human-wildlife conflict mitigation and behavioural research on our stage one cubs.  We are open to many research possibilities, so please contact us to discuss any ideas you have which utilise your skills and expertise, and which are in line with ALERT’s overall programme and aims. 

Whatever you choose to research with us, it’s not glamorous!  Much of your day may be spent in cramped conditions within a research vehicle, but when one of the released lions walks by with her young cubs in tow, you will be captivated – just make sure you remember to take the necessary notes at the same time!  Or you may be spending time in a local school where conditions can be basic, but the sense of satisfaction from helping to make a difference to someone’s life is very high.


What will I be doing?

Throughout their stay, Interns will be shadowing and assisting the projects’ Research Technicians in all aspects of their work.  

Our observation of the released lions looks at a variety of areas in order to gauge whether these lions are behaving in a way that would be expected within a wild pride.  If this can be shown to be true, then we can be assured that their cubs are as prepared for life in the wild as any wild born cub.  The areas of study include...

Group Dynamics – A pride is not a static group of individuals but a flexible group of lions that meet and part at regular intervals.  We are seeking to discover kinships within the group, to identify preferred hunting areas and such like.

Social Interactions – Much can be learned about the relationships within the pride and the dominance system that exists by observing the various interactions between pride members.

Activity Budgets – This study seeks to understand how our lions are using their time in their release site and how does this relate to the way in which a wild born lion acts?

Territorial Behaviours – We hope that our lions will display behaviours that indicate that they are treating the release site as their home territory.   Roaring and scent marking are the behaviours we are particularly looking at.

Hunting – The lions need to be self-sustaining; but are their success rates as we would expect?  Do they have prey preferences? Favoured hunting areas?  Few people visiting Africa ever have the chance to watch lions hunt; it is an incredible sight which we hope you will have an opportunity to witness.

Reproduction – The program’s ultimate goal is that the offspring of the released lions will be put into the wild.  The important question is, are our lions reproducing well?  And do they look after their cubs as well as a wild born mother would?

Computer Work – Of course all this data needs to be inputted; so some data entry is a necessary part of the program. 

NOTE: If you are looking to use data collected during your stay at the program for a university course or thesis, please refer to our facilitated research program instead.

What are we looking for?

When choosing a Research intern, we are ideally looking for a post-graduate, although we are able to accept sufficiently motivated current students in selected project locations.  You must clearly have an interest in animals/wildlife and their conservation.  Prior in-the-field research experience is preferable.

On a personal level, you need to be extremely focussed as the majority of research you will be carrying out is, by nature, painstaking.  Attention to detail is vital in this field.  To reward your patience and dedication you will get to spend every day in the company of one of Africa’s most magnificent species.  


Click on these links for more information on the locations currently available:

 
*  Research programs vary from site to site, some operate at certain times of year only and all are subject to change.

For intern fees and how to apply click here


Intern testimonials

Genevieve Hayes joined the team in Livingstone and had this to say about her experience:
 
"I feel that the project fully utilised the breadth of my skills base and enabled me to be involved in a variety of different aspects of the project which I enjoyed.  I gained a lot of respect for this project through working there and it definitely confirmed that conservation work in Africa is what I want to do in the future.  I am sure I will be back.  I think the work you do and the range of the projects to include not just the future of the lions but the livelihoods of the local communities is incredible and I am so happy I was a part of it."
 
Morgan Kirzinger also joined the team in Livingstone, he commented that:
 
"The research staff were amazing to work with and such good mentors.  I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about lions and animal behaviour.  I have learned so much about Africa, its environment, the people and the animals.  I feel that ALERT is on the right track and doing excellent work.  ALERT will do amazing things and has already accomplished a lot.  Some highlights included tracking a wild nomadic lion, tracking elephant movements and setting up lights [to help mitigate human / elephant conflict]." 
 
Research Internship in Africa Research Internships in Africa