BirdLife South Africa (BLSA), based in Johannesburg, South Africa, is one of the largest, most active, non-governmental conservation organisations in South Africa.

BLSA is the South African Partner of BirdLife International, which operates through partners in 113 countries and territories worldwide. The BirdLife Partnership is the leading and internationally-acclaimed authority on the status of birds, their habitats, and the issues affecting birds. BLSA has special links with the BirdLife partners in Africa, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in the UK.

BLSA is looking for a qualified, dedicated, innovative and dynamic Raptor & Large Terrestrial Bird Project Manager to spearhead BLSA’s research, conservation strategies, population monitoring and awareness campaigns centred on the prevention of extinctions of South Africa’s threatened raptors and large terrestrial birds.  This demanding position is supported by The Ingula Partnership, a collaboration between BLSA, Middelpunt Wetland Trust and Eskom, as well as by several private donors. The position will require extensive fieldwork and regular engagement with key stakeholders, land owners, provincial and national conservation authorities.

The Raptor & Large Terrestrial Bird Project Manager will build and sustain the current BirdLife South Africa species projects dedicated to monitoring the movements, presence and biology of raptors and large terrestrial birds across their national and continental ranges in Africa, including species such as the Critically Endangered Southern Banded Snake Eagle and Taita Falcon, Endangered Black Harrier and Secretarybird, and Vulnerable Black Stork. The incumbent will also be responsible for drafting and implementing habitat management guidelines at key sites across South Africa which benefit the conservation of raptors and large terrestrial birds. The incumbent will be responsible for identifying key threats to South Africa’s raptors and large terrestrial birds and devising effective, implementable, and measurable strategies to mitigate these threats. The incumbent will be responsible for assisting BLSA’s Science and Innovation Programme with content for the regional Red List with regard to South Africa’s raptors and large terrestrial birds. The Raptor & Large Terrestrial Bird Project Manager will report directly to BLSA’s Landscape Conservation Programme Manager who reports to the BLSA Head of Conservation.

The ideal candidate would have:

  • Experienced background in ecological sciences and/or ornithology
  • Knowledge of raptor and/or large terrestrial bird biology and conservation
  • The ability to develop innovative research ideas and techniques
  • The ability to analyse large datasets and interpret the results
  • A sound understanding of national environmental legislation and policies
  • Indepth knowledge of species and/or habitat conservation
  • Good communication skills
  • Good administrative and leadership skills
  • A passion for the study and conservation of the natural environment
  • Be able to work as part of a team

The Raptor & Large Terrestrial Bird Project Manager will be committed to BLSA’s vision and mission (available at https://www.birdlife.org.za/who-we-are/about/) and be willing to work collaboratively with other organisations, both regionally and internationally, to further the conservation and preservation of South Africa’s threatened raptors and large terrestrial birds and their associated habitats.


The primary responsibilities of the Raptor & Large Terrestrial Bird Project Manager will include, but not be limited to:

  • Co-ordinating fieldwork for the annual surveys and breeding databases of Southern Banded Snake Eagle, Taita Falcon, Secretarybird and Black Stork, as well as managing, maintaining and analysing the accrued data.
  • Developing innovative and strategic projects which are implemented to effectively conserve South Africa’s most threatened raptors and large terrestrial birds.
  • Coordinating and analysing telemetry studies on raptors and large terrestrial birds that inform BLSA’s conservation work.
  • Developing and updating of conservation plans and population monitoring for key threatened species, such as the Secretarybird, Southern Banded Snake Eagle and Black Stork.
  • Drafting, implementing, and when necessary updating, the best practice management guidelines for selected species, e.g. the Secretarybird.
  • Effectively collaborating with the other BLSA projects and programmes (especially Science and Innovation and Policy and Advocacy) to promote and to lead the research and conservation of raptors and large terrestrial birds and their habitats in South Africa.
  • Exploring opportunities to link key habitats for raptors and large terrestrial birds and other biodiversity within the NPAES (National Protected Area Expansion Strategy), KBAs (Key Biodiversity Areas), Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBAs), OECMs (Other Effective Conservation Measures), and Vulture Safe Zone (VSZ) frameworks.
  • Where appropriate, preparing scientific and popular articles for publication in peer-reviewed journals and popular media respectively.
  • Liaising, developing and maintaining key partnerships with Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), provincial conservation authorities and provincial conservation forums.
  • Maintaining key partnerships with non-government organisations, academic institutions and other strategic role players.
  • Fundraising to ensure that the project has the financial resources to undertake its work, and nurturing key relationships with existing donors.
  • Promoting awareness and support for BLSA’s Raptor & Large Terrestrial Bird conservation project.

Inherent requirements for the position are:

  • Minimum of a masters or doctorate in natural sciences, relating to ecological science/ornithology.
  • Proven statistical and analytical skills sufficient to interpret large data sets and analyse the results.
  • Skilful use of the Microsoft Office suite, comfortable with “R” and its applications as well as spatial mapping software (i.e. ArcGIS/QGIS) (Shortlisted candidates may have to complete a task).
  • Proven experience in handling birds, in particular raptors and/or large terrestrial birds.
  • Fieldwork experience and the proven ability to work in remote, isolated areas. At least two years of project management experience, including the design, implementation, co-ordination and management of complex scientific and/or conservation projects.
  • Proven financial management skills, such as project budget management .
  • A proven track record in successful fundraising, identifying donor prospects, donor cultivation and grant writing.
  • Superior communication skills with proficiency in English (written, spoken and graphical means) and a scientific publication record is preferable.
  • Code 8 driver’s licence.
  • Ringing experience will be beneficial but is not essential.
  • Experience working with remote monitoring techniques (e.g. camera traps) and telemetry data to understand animal movement and ecology.
  • Strong logistical skills.
  • Extensive knowledge of South Africa’s terrestrial birds and the main threats to these species.
  • Knowledge of South Africa’s environmental legislation and international multi-lateral environmental agreements (i.e. CMS Raptors MoU).
  • Ability to develop website content, policy briefs and position papers.
  • Willingness to present both live and online presentations on work.
  • Strong writing proficiency and willingness to write both scientific and popular articles.
  • Diplomacy and conflict resolution skills.
  • The ability to network with key stakeholders, donors, funders and government officials, with a track record of working collaboratively with diverse groups.
  • Ability to multi-task, problem solve and prioritise.
  • Willingness to travel both locally and internationally.

The successful candidate will report to BLSA’s Landscape Conservation Programme Manager, who reports to the Head of Conservation.

The position is based BLSA’s Head Office (Isdell House, 17 Hume Road, Dunkeld West) in Johannesburg (This is a non-negotiable prerequisite).

The nature of the position requires the incumbent to sometimes work afterhours and over weekends and, at times, may involve extensive travel.


Salary:  BLSA offers a salary which is commensurate with the position and responsibilities. The salary information is available on request.  

Fringe benefits:  BLSA provides comprehensive group life insurance.


 Interview:  Successful applicants will be required to attend interviews in Johannesburg, or via Zoom. 



Applicants are to submit:

  • A detailed curriculum vitae with three contactable referees.
  • A detailed motivation as to how the applicant sees his/her role in this post.
  • Copies of qualifications (please provide the SAQA accreditation in the case of foreign qualifications).
  • A list of publications and other achievements.
  • A copy of the applicant’s identity document or passport.

Please note:

  • All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence.  Communication will be limited to shortlisted candidates only.  Should you not be contacted within six weeks of the closing date for applications, you may assume that your application was unsuccessful.
  • BLSA reserves the right not to make an appointment.
  • BLSA subscribes to and applies the principles prescribed by the Employment Equity Act.  Preference will be given to candidates from designated groups, in accordance with the principles of the aforementioned act and the employee profile of the specific programme. 

Assumption of duties:  As soon as possible 

Closing date: 30 September 2020 at 17:00 (CAT) 

To apply please e-mail your CV and motivation to BLSA’s HR Manager, Dr Isabel Human, at [email protected] with the subject title RAPTOR & LT BIRD PROJECT MANAGER.

For further information, contact Dr Melissa Howes-Whitecross, Landscape Conservation Programme Manager, at [email protected] or Dr Hanneline Smit-Robinson, Head of Conservation, at [email protected]