Invitation for Postgraduate scholarship applications
BirdLife Botswana in partnership with Hoisting Solutions invites potential Batswana candidates to apply for a fully funded postgraduate (MSc/MA) scholarship on Botswana cranes for 2019/2020 academic year. The scholarship runs for 24 months with additional three month orientation period and covers tuition, research fees, travel costs and basic student allowance. Candidates should be ready to start preferably July 2019 and will be based in Maun, Botswana. The study can be done on any topic ranging from distribution, movement patterns, feeding ecology or any that may be of interest, although this will be further developed in agreement with BirdLife Botswana, the student and the identified University. The study will be undertaken in the Okavango delta.
Cranes are a family, the Gruidae, of large, long-legged, and long-necked birds in the group Gruiformes. There are typically three crane species in Southern Africa, blue crane, wattled crane, and grey crowned crane. The blue crane is one of the world’s most range restricted birds. It is almost entirely found in South Africa and almost non-existent in Botswana although very small numbers were recorded in the extreme south of Botswana and some parts of Makgadikgadi. The grey crowned crane or crowned crane is fairly common across most parts of Zimbabwe and South Africa, where it is restricted to the eastern Highveld areas. In Botswana the species is rare with a few records having been made in some areas of the northern parts of Botswana. Wattled crane is the only species found in large concentrations in Botswana particularly in the northern parts of the country including Chobe, Linyanti, Makgadikgadi, Lake Ngami and along Boteti river.
In April, 2001, the BirdLife Botswana Crane Working Group (BLBCWG) was established as an autonomous working group of BirdLife Botswana. The primary objective of the Group is to initiate and coordinate crane and habitat research, conservation and education programmes. This is partly because cranes are globally threatened birds, but also because the Group believes that cranes are indicators of the health of wetlands, and that healthy and productive wetlands are good for people too. In order to achieve this objective, the BLBCWG networks with all interested and concerned citizens, as well as government and non-governmental organisations. It is the belief of the Group that concerned and committed individuals can and should assume custodianship for endangered species, and thereby contribute to their survival. To this end, the Group conducted a comprehensive, systematic aerial census of wattled cranes in the Okavango Delta in 2001. This revealed that the Okavango Delta has the largest single population of wattled cranes in Africa. In late 2003 a participatory workshop was organised by the BLBCWG, involving all stakeholders in the preparation of a Wattled Crane Action Plan – a blueprint for protecting and conserving the wattled crane in Botswana.
One of the gaps highlighted in the Species Action Plan was the lack of information on several aspects about wattled crane ecology and the conservation actions needed to sustainably manage this important bird species. For example, information on the movement ecology of wattled crane and other species in the family is still lacking. Do cranes move between the major wetlands in Southern Africa? Which areas in Botswana are preferred by wattled cranes and how do they disperse from the Okavango Delta to other areas such as Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. This scholarship programme has been established to address such questions.
Potential candidates for this scholarship are required to possess the following:
- A minimum of 2:1 on a first degree in biological science, wildlife management, environmental science or related academic field;
- Keen interest in birds and nature.
- Ability to work alone under pressure, as well as meeting tight deadlines.
- Willingness to travel and spend extensive periods in the field.
- Valid Class B Driver’s licence.
- Selected candidates will sign a contract with BirdLife Botswana.
- Those not already registered with any academic institution will be required to apply and gain admission at a University in conjunction with BirdLife Botswana.
- Once offered, the candidate should be able to start within a period of three months from date of admission at the University.
- There will be extensive travel, and so potential candidates should be comfortable to travel, stay in tents in the bush for a long time.
- Potential candidates MUST have a drivers licence and should be able to drive themselves to the field.
- A research vehicle or a relevant mode of transport will be provided.
How to apply
Those who are interested must submit a covering letter, CV and a two-page concept paper (abstract) on what they propose to work on; and why a motivation as to why they should be considered. Applicants are advised to carefully consider their presentation and to adequately articulate their intentions. For any further enquiry please contact BirdLife Botswana office at 3190540.
Applications should be submitted no later than 1800hrs, 10th May 2019, via email only, with a Subject; APPLICATON FOR POST GRADUATE SCHOLARSHIP, to Mr Motshereganyi Virat Kootsositse, email@example.com. Submissions by post or any other means other than email will not be accepted. No late submissions will be entertained.
Responses will be provided on the 31st May 2019 by close of business directed to the email address indicated in the CV. Once you received a positive response you MUST respond by the 7th June 2019 via email. If we don’t receive any response from you by the 7th June 2019 we will allocate your slot to the next available candidate. For those who didn’t receive responses by the 31st May 2019, only consider your application unsuccessful by the 14th June 2019 and you may try again in the upcoming scholarships.
About BirdLife Botswana
BirdLife Botswana (former Botswana Bird Club) is a membership-based NGO established in 1980 as a branch of the Botswana Society. It was established to fill the void in knowledge and interest of birds in Botswana. BirdLife Botswana is the official representative of BirdLife International in Botswana. Among other activities, the organization carries out research and monitoring of birds, the results of which are made publicly available in their international journal Babbler; and popular magazines, Familiar Chat and Bird Conservation Newsletter. Since its formation, BirdLife Botswana has designed, coordinated, contributed data or were involved in numerous projects including the Bird Atlas of Botswana, a Birds of Botswana field guide, Atlas of Southern African Birds, Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of Southern Africa, biannual waterfowl counts in major wetlands and monitoring of wattled crane (Okavango Delta), southern ground hornbill (Khwai), kori bustard (largely in CKGR), Lesser flamingo (Makgadikgadi Pans) and Cape vultures (Mannyelanong). The organization also collects data on bird ecology and distribution via a nest record scheme, records of interesting and unusual sightings, and rarities records.
About the Crane Fund
Hoisting Solutions and Ian Nuttall-Smith are BirdLife Botswana’s biggest financial supporters. They have established the Crane Fund to promote the conservation of this special family of birds, especially wattled, grey crowned and blue cranes. These three species are breathtakingly beautiful and graceful, but at the same time listed as globally vulnerable to extinction.
The Crane Fund has been set up mainly to monitor their numbers and research these three species as well as create awareness among the public about the threats faced by these birds. More wattled cranes are found in Botswana than anywhere else in the world, so it is incumbent upon all to protect and recognize them as a national heritage.