Wildlife Conservation Society

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is seeking an experienced protected area manager to fill the position of Project Director of the Okapi Faunal Reserve (OFR) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) .

Purpose: The purpose of this position is to provide overall co-ordination and responsibility for all WCS operations and budgets within the Okapi Faunal Reserve (OFR) and its buffer zone.

Location: The position is based in Epulu, the HQ of the Okapi Faunal Reserve, in Ituri Province, Democratic Republic of Congo

Duration: 2 years with option for renewal. To start 1 September 2017.

Operational structure: The position will report to the WCS DRC Country Director, located in Kinshasa. The position will oversee a team of ~40 WCS on-site staff, comprising a WCS Chief of Operations, and encompassing the following departments: Admin and Finance, Logistics, Research and Monitoring, Socio-Economics and Law Enforcement support. The position will work closely with the Site Director of ICCN (the national conservation agency) in the management of the OFR and particularly on enforcement issues. The project has an annual operating budget of approximately $2.5 million, with funds from US government, KfW (German Development Bank) and other public and private donors.

Background to the position

Created in 1992, the OFR, at more than 13,000km2, is the single largest protected tract of intact lowland tropical forest remaining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The OFR harbors the largest remaining population of forest elephants and okapi in the DRC and the single largest population of the eastern chimpanzee in Africa.

WCS has been active in the OFR for more than 30 years, supporting its creation, and subsequently working closely with ICCN and partners in its management. The OFR is the single largest project in WCS’s DRC portfolio. Current major threats are elephant and bushmeat poaching and illegal mining. To improve the capacity and effectiveness of the OFR to respond to these threats, the WCS is currently engaged in formal negotiations with ICCN towards the development of a Public-Private Partnership to manage the Reserve.

OFR is situated in the Ituri landscape; comprising more than 40,000km 2 of contiguous forests, in which WCS is actively building conservation constituencies and supporting sustainable agricultural practices amongst the local communities who depend upon the forest resources for their livelihoods, and on whom the future integrity of the OFR is inextricably linked. The Ituri forests also have a rich cultural heritage and are home to the indigenous Mbuti and Efé peoples.

Specific Duties

The Project Director will provide strategic and operational leadership and be responsible for all WCS activities and operations both inside the OFR and outside in the buffer zone, including technical support to law enforcement, research and monitoring, community conservation, fundraising and reporting, communications, and capacity building of national staff. The job includes managing senior staff, developing strong relationships with government partners, partner agencies and organizations, as well as managing a significant budget and ensuring the program runs smoothly day-to-day.


  • Coordination, strategic planning and timely implementation of WCS activities and operations within the OFR and its buffer zone
  • Oversight of all financial management and reporting, including the preparation of annual workplans, budgets and reports, and ensuring that all WCS and donor financial/administrative policies and procedures are adhered to
  • Contribution to fund raising for the RFO and particular projects in the OFR and its buffer zone in conjunction with WCS technical project leaders in OFR and with country office financial and program direction in Kinshasa
  • Ensuring that all contracts, accords and conventions related to the OFR are followed
  • Recruitment (in consultation with the Kinshasa Office) and management of all WCS personnel
  • Ensuring an effective team is in place to implement the annual workplan that includes: a Law Enforcement Technical Advisor, Research and Monitoring department, Community Conservation/Socio-Economics department, Logistics Service, and Administration and Finance Unit
  • Management of all WCS assets (including vehicles)Oversight of all logistics
  • Building and maintaining an effective day-to-day working relationship and open communications with the ICCN Site Director
  • Actively building and maintaining relationships with community authorities, NGO partners provincial government partners, UN and military authorities, as well as other key stakeholders of the RFO
  • Representation of WCS at the local CoCoSi (Comité de Coordination du Site)
  • Representation of WCS at national/regional fora as requested by the WCS DRC Country Director
  • Ensuring good communications between OFR and key donors and with other WCS programs and staff within DRC, within WCS Central Africa and within the WCS HQ in New York
  • Maintaining an active line of communication on progress and challenges in the OFR with the WCS DRC Country Director in Kinshasa
  • Assume the role of Landscape Leader for the USAID CARPE (Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment) Program for the Ituri Landscape that is centered around the OFR and its buffer zone, including workplanning and reporting
  • Oversight of all research and monitoring activities in the OFR, including a OFR-wide large mammal survey every 5 years
  • Oversight of all community and rural development activities, including a large sustainable cocoa development program
  • Oversee development of a strong external communications strategy for the OFR
  • Oversee the handover of CEFRECOF (the WCS research and training facility in the OFR) to ICCN as an ecoguard training and wildlife management training facility


Person Specification

We are looking for an outstanding leader with proven managerial experience, strong communication skills, and a good understanding of African conservation, development and socio-economic issues, particularly in Central Africa and specifically DRC. Fluency in English and proficiency in French is essential.

Qualifications and Experience:

  • At least 10 years protected area management experience, ideally in Central Africa or in a context exhibiting similar threats and security issues
  • Proven track record in personnel management (required)
  • Proven track record in conservation/wildlife management (required)
  • Hands-on management of a remote and large protected area in Africa including developing, improving and overseeing protected area management systems, HR, finance, infrastructure and law enforcement (required)
  • Experience working with government agencies, bilateral funding mechanisms, and other stakeholders on protected area management support (required);
  • Experience in managing large and complex community conservation programs (preferred)
  • Excellent spoken and written English (required)
  • Very good French language proficiency (required)
  • If not fluent in French, demonstrated ability to master a foreign language (required)

To apply:

Please send a copy of your CV and a cover letter to: the WCS Africa Program at africaapplications@wcs.org , and cc. bthuaire@wcs.org and mention OFR Project Director in your subject header. Deadline to apply is 30 July 2017.

Please explain in the cover letter how your experience will contribute to addressing the threats to the OFR and how it will allow you to help put in place long-term systems for the conservation and management of the Reserve and its buffer zone. Include contact information for three references and specify whether we may contact each of these or whether this should await your approval.

The salary will be commensurate with experience and will offer a competitive benefits package.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is a US nonprofit, tax-exempt, private organization established in 1895 that saves wildlife and wild places by understanding critical issues, crafting science-based solutions, and taking conservation actions that benefit nature and humanity. With more than a century of experience, long-term commitments in dozens of landscapes, presence in more than 60 nations, and experience helping to establish over 150 protected areas across the globe, WCS has amassed the biological knowledge, cultural understanding and partnerships to ensure that vibrant, wild places and wildlife thrive alongside local communities. Working with local communities and organizations, that knowledge is applied to address species, habitat and ecosystem management issues critical to improving the quality of life of poor rural people whose livelihoods depend on the direct utilization of natural resources.