Senior Research Assistants for biological research and plant control at Gough Island

20 Dec 2012 - 10:45

Closing date for applications: 20 January 2013

(only open to South African citizens or permanent residents)

The South African Department of Environment Affairs has funded three positions for a long-running research and conservation management project on Gough Island. This remote island in the central South Atlantic Ocean is a natural World Heritage Site and forms part of the UK Overseas Territory of Tristan da Cunha. It supports several endemic plant and animal species as well as globally important populations of seabirds, but these natural resources are threatened by introduced mice and plants as well as climate change impacts on surrounding ocean systems. The island is uninhabited apart from a South African weather station, where small teams of 6-8 people are based for 13 months, with limited contact with the outside world. The three positions are to undertake a challenging work programme that combines research and monitoring of selected bird species with control and eradication work on a small invasive plant from the steep cliffs adjacent to the weather station. 

The posts are only open to South African citizens or permanent residents. Given the remote nature of the island, the small team size, and limited scope for direct supervision, strong preference will be given to established teams that have demonstrated prior ability to work together in the field.

The successful applicants should have experience of:

  • handling, ringing and counting seabirds, ideally including diet sampling penguins,
  • undertaking fieldwork in a mountainous environment and inclement weather conditions,
  • abseil rope-access techniques, with at least two members of the team requiring formal rope-access skills (IRATA level 1 or equivalent),
  • working and camping on remote islands (or equivalent remote locations).

The successful applications will have skills/qualifications in:

  • at least one member of the team must have a BSc Hons degree or equivalent qualification in a science/conservation discipline, ideally with at least two years of work experience in conservation/wildlife related fieldwork and research.

The successful applications must demonstrate

  • an ability to live and work in a very small team on one of the world’s remotest islands for a prolonged period,
  • high levels of physical fitness, adaptability and a strong work ethic,
  • aptitude and/or proven experience in successfully undertaking unsupervised fieldwork,
  • aptitude and/or proven experience for undertaking rope-access/climbing methods with safety as a first priority.

Details of the jobs

  • Undertake biological research, fieldwork and monitoring according to a workplan devised by the project managers,
  • Conduct plant eradication fieldwork according to a workplan devised by the project manager,
  • Make day-to-day decisions about work priorities and fieldwork protocols,
  • Maintain accurate records of the work and computer databases of the work,
  • Regularly report to and update the project manager on progress of the project,
  • The period of contract will be from 01 August 2013 to 30 October 2014.

For further information please contact Peter Ryan ( or Richard Cuthbert (

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