Discover the biodiversity of the Peruvian Amazon and acquire valuable expertise in the field of primate behaviour, their communication and space use. In detail this means that you will research the geographical distribution, the spatial use as well as the vocal and scent communication system of different tamarin species. Experienced scientists will be by your side at all times to pass on their valuable theoretical and practical expertise. This internship is an opportunity for nature lovers to gather international practical experience and get an up close and personal experience of the South American rainforest.
Peru’s natural environment is renowned for being diverse and untouched. It is home to a large number of rare and endemic mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insect species. The country’s combination of rainforest and mountain areas makes Peru a unique destination. The Andes are the longest mountain chain in the world and stretch from the north of the country to the south along the Pacific coast before hitting the Amazon River to the east. Travellers and hiking enthusiasts can see a variety of different natural environments in a relatively short space of time.
All participants are to be at least 18 years of age upon commencement of the programme in addition to them having a good command of the English language. Previous practical experience or research experience is not a requirement, but it is an advantage. What is more important is a strong interest in the fields of zoology, biology and anthropology in addition to flexibility, endurance and the readiness to start the day off in the early hours of the morning and in some cases also to end it quite late. The participants should also not be afraid of working in a jungle and the handling of insects and reptiles. As the daily work within the programme is quite strenuous, such as long hikes through the rainforest, all participants need to be adequately fit. Another condition for participating in the programme is the submission of a cover letter describing your motivation for taking part as well as two letters of recommendation. Furthermore, we require your CV/résumé and conduct an application interview with you (in English).
After arriving at Puerto Maldonado International Airport, you will be collected by a member of staff and will be spending the first night in a hostel in the city. On the next day, you continue your journey to your new home and workplace, a research station that is located at the foot of the Southern Andes in the Amazon rainforest.
The focus of this programme is set on researching the species saddleback and emperor tamarins as well as their communication behaviour and their space use. Primates often use different visual, vocal and chemical signals to exchange information inter- and intraspecifically. One part of this course deals with the research of the reproductive suppression. All male primates of a group are significantly involved in caring for the offspring so that the reproductive system can be understood as a cooperative breeding. To make sure all males get involved in the breeding process and avoid competition, the dominant female has a suppressing influence on the ovulation of younger, inferior females in the group. This surpression takes places due to a combination of hormones, scent and sight. In order to investigate this phenomenon in the wild, participants will follow and observe certain tamarin groups on half-day or day tours to document nonverbal forms of communication as well as their scent-marking. Together with your group you will gather information about their marking behaviour, the morphology and development of their scent glands as well as about the hormone balance of adolescent animals. In addition to that, you will research the vocal system as another important form of their communication.
Another part of this course is the exploration of the habitat use of different tamarind groups with the help of radio telemetry. This can contribute to answering different questions like the one concerning their spatial distribution. For the research work you will leave the project site early in the morning to explore the rainforest, track down the animals via telemetry and generate information about their geographic distribution as well as their habitat use by employing different methods of observation.
Everybody interested in internships abroad should be able to adjust to entirely unfamiliar standards of living in their future host country. Therefore, we would like to point out the importance of being flexible and adaptable regarding the accommodation and sanitary facilities provided by the project. Those are very basic and – depending on the project – cannot be compared to European standards. The equipment and furnishings are limited to a minimum; air conditioning is not available. Depending on your host country occasional power blackouts or water outages are quite common. Please contact us if you have further questions about your accommodation. We are pleased to provide you with comprehensive information since we would like you to feel entirely prepared for your time abroad.
A research station, located in the midst of the Amazon rainforest, will be your workplace and new home during the programme. The station houses a laboratory, a classroom, a library, a dining room and two dormitories, where the programme participants are accommodated. The dormitories have bunk beds and shared bathrooms.
You will be provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner during your stay at the research station and snacks are also available during your meals. The food supply is relatively balanced, even if fresh vegetables are not always available. Please inform us in advance should you have any special dietary needs (e.g. purely vegetarian meals). It is also possible that you will be staying one night in Puerto Maldonado after you have left the research station. During this stay in the hostel, you will be provided with breakfast but you will have to obtain your lunch and dinner yourself. A good and satisfying meal can be obtained for just a few euros.