Dugong Project Officer

Type: 
Paid
Closing date: 
07 Oct 2022
Section: 
Aldabra

Job description

Dugong Project Officer

Background

The project titled: The last dugongs in the Seychelles: baseline population assessment of Dugong dugon at Aldabra Atoll is a project funded by the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) with the main objective to establish a quantitative knowledge base of the dugong population at Aldabra Atoll and explore Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as a new tool for management and protection of the Aldabra Special Reserve. Some of the activities under this project are to 1) plan and programme aerial surveys using the provided programming software; 2) establish and undertake aerial surveys of dugongs in Aldabra’s lagoon and its seaward reefs using UAVs and conduct dugong population assessment; 3) produce relevant reports associated with the aerial surveys of dugongs; 4) build institutional and national capacity for the use of UAVs in animal survey methods and monitoring; and 5) contribute to the inclusion of informed management and protection of dugongs in the Aldabra management plan.

Dugongs are marine mammals listed as Vulnerable to extinction on the IUCN Red List. Historically in Seychelles, dugongs were found in large numbers; however, the Aldabra group is the only known location where they are still seen. The reduction in their numbers is linked to habitat loss, entanglement in fishing gear, illegal hunting, boat strikes and ingestion of marine debris, a particularly accelerated trend in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO). At present, much of the data available on dugongs at Aldabra and within the WIO region is qualitative, with extensive gaps in quantitative knowledge on their population status, distribution and ecology. A greater understanding of these aspects is a prerequisite to determining the most informed management strategy for their protection at a national and regional level.

 

Specific Role

  1. Involvement in the programming and planning of aerial surveys that is representative of the entire Aldabra lagoon with the support of project partners
  2. Develop and trial survey methodology for aerial marine mammal surveys with the support of project partners
  3. Attend week-long virtual training on the appropriate use and programming of UAVs
  4. Conduct aerial marine mammal surveys following the previously established methodology with the support of project partners
  5. Undertake manual image analysis through animal detection software with the support of project partners
  6. Compile reports for every aerial survey undertaken on Aldabra atoll, listing strengths, challenges, and recommendations
  7. Contribute to the scientific report to the Seychelles government for informed management and protection of the dugong population in Seychelles
  8. Ensure effective training of new and current staff on piloting and aerial surveying of dugongs at Aldabra
  9. Produce detailed training protocol and UAV monitoring protocol

Expected outcomes

  1. Improved knowledge and accessibility to data on dugong population status, distribution, and ecology for increased conservation efforts
  2. Modernised and innovated way to collect data under SIF management through the use of UAVs
  3. Continual analysis of dugong population status, distribution, and ecology throughout Aldabra
  4. Informed management and protection of dugong at Aldabra and within the WIO region
  5. Detailed protocols on the appropriate use of UAVs for aerial surveys and monitoring
  6. Improved use of resources for dugong conservation
  7. Improved capacity of the use of UAVs for aerial surveys at Aldabra

Deliverables

  1. Submission of monthly updates with updated project plan and timeline.
  2. Finalised survey flight plan throughout Aldabra lagoon (30/11/2022)
  3. Survey report, including implementation schedule, metadata sheet, training report and schedule (31/05/2023)
  4. Finalised training and monitoring protocols upon completion of the first survey (31/05/2023)
  5. Completed manual image analysis and send to project partners (30/06/2023)
  6. Initiated draft of a scientific paper on the distribution of dugong at Aldabra (31/12/2023)
  7. Initiate draft scientific report to Seychelles government, including the management recommendations for improved conservation of dugongs at Aldabra and within the region (31/12/2023)
  8. Initiated draft for proposal of further use of UAVs for monitoring Aldabra’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and potential wider use within Seychelles and the region (31/12/2023)

Required qualifications and skills of the candidate

  1. Bachelor’s degree (BSc) in the environmental field (essential)
  2. Experience in using UAVs for conservation and monitoring purposes
  3. Excellent programming and data processing skills (essential)
  4. An excellent understanding of environmental conservation and management in Seychelles (essential) as well as experience in Aldabra monitoring activities (desirable)
  5. Strong history of effective communication via report and presentation writing skills (essential) and meetings with stakeholders and collaborators
  6. Excellent communication skills via email/skype/webinars (essential), presentations (desirable)
  7. Excellent coordination and organisation skills and ability to deliver outputs on time and to a high quality (essential)
  8. Fluency in English (essential); knowledge of Creole and/or French is an asset
  9. Local knowledge of Seychelles, specifically Aldabra atoll (essential)
  10. Proficient fieldwork skills and experience relevant to UAV survey, e.g., survey flight plan, programming, data processing, handling devices, hiking in difficult terrain

 

Contractual arrangements

The service will be overseen by SIF’s HO Project Officer and the Aldabra Science Coordinator, who will provide ongoing feedback throughout the project. The HO Project Officer will ensure that the above outputs are delivered in the agreed timeframe. SIF shall provide the necessary support to the site project officer to execute the assignment throughout the project.

Application procedure

Applicants are required to submit the following documents to Veronique Banane (info@sif.sc) on or before 9th September 2022, along with the following:

  1. Letter of interest, stating why you consider your service suitable for the assignment
  2. CV highlighting qualifications and experience based on the qualification and skill requirements above

Open to Seychellois applicants only.