Wildlife Management StudiesTanzania
The curriculum and research of the Wildlife Management Studies semester program in Tanzania focus on examining how changes in land-use and resource availability in the Maasai steppe ecosystems can be managed in such a way as to safeguard and promote biodiversity conservation while fostering the well-being of local communities.
Session I: Wildlife Management & ConservationTanzania
Students in this program are exposed to wildlife management practices and the complex issues involving sustainable wildlife conservation in the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem of Tanzania. The course combines concepts and principles of ecology, natural resource management, and socioeconomics which are central to effective and sustainable wildlife conservation. Students develop skills to explore the ecology, social organization, and behavior of common African large mammals.
Session II: Techniques for Wildlife Field ResearchTanzania
Students learn a suite of wildlife field techniques and methods routinely used to assess wildlife ecology and management policies and practices in East Africa with specific application to the Tanzania Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem conservation areas. The focus will be multidisciplinary and reflect the complex realities of balancing ecological, economic, and socio-cultural factors in sustainable wildlife conservation and management studies.
How can changes in land use and resource availability in the Maasai Steppe of Kenya and Tanzania be managed in such a way as to foster the well-being of local communities whilst safeguarding and promoting biodiversity conservation?
The grasslands of southeastern Kenya (Amboseli ecosystem) and northeastern Tanzania (Maasai steppe) comprise extensive areas of land, which is home to the Maasai community. The area is characterized by a diversity of landscapes and habitats used by migratory wildlife species from Amboseli national park in Kenya, and Lake Manyara and Tarangire national parks in Tanzania. Apart from a few scattered permanent rivers and springs, most of this region is largely arid or semi-arid, with mean annual rainfall in the range of 300-500 mm in southeastern Kenya and 1200mm in Arusha. The landscape has been used traditionally by the Maasai pastoral community to graze livestock on a communal basis, but this has rapidly changed in the last decades. There has been a steady shift in land use from purely pastoral to mixed agro-pastoral systems driven by multiple factors, including changing demographics, emerging economic opportunities, increasing tourism demands, and access to markets. Land use changes in the wildlife dispersal areas between protected areas compromise the ecological and environmental integrity and quality as habitats for a wide variety of wildlife species, especially large mammals like the African elephant, generally posing a serious challenge to conservation of biodiversity in this region. The current scenario in the region has generated some antagonism between the dual goals of local livelihoods and conservation.
The issues affecting and influencing wildlife conservation, local livelihoods and co-existence of humans and wildlife in the Maasai steppe of Kenya and Tanzania present a showcase for students and SFS faculty to explore the best strategy of promoting wildlife conservation whilst improving local livelihoods. Our research agendas for both the SFS Kenya and SFS Tanzania field centers focus on specific issues that have a bearing on the drivers of changes in these biodiversity rich landscapes, and their impacts on local livelihoods, wildlife and other critical natural resources. Both agendas link to this integrated research direction: How can changes in land use and resource availability in the Maasai Steppe of Kenya and Tanzania be managed in such a way as to foster the well-being of local communities whilst safeguarding and promoting biodiversity conservation?
Students have a special opportunity to see the intricate and complex connection between wildlife conservation and rural livelihoods. SFS faculty and staff are local people with intimate knowledge of the challenges of conservation in East Africa.
The Center plays an important role in the economy of the community, providing stable jobs to a large number of the local people, including critical support jobs such as cooks, drivers, guides, and guards. Additionally, students spend a lot of their free time visiting tourist attractions, markets, and local artisans.
During the summer sessions in wildlife management, the Center has hosted many Tanzanian students, providing a special opportunity for SFS students to live and learn alongside local students. SFS students learn a great deal about the local culture and engage in many community service projects in areas such as education, infrastructure improvement, and mentoring programs at schools and orphanages.
Students also enjoy soccer games, church services, and other events centered in the community. They participate in traditional Maasai cultural activities through song, dance, dress, and food.
In addition to engaging in the economic and cultural fabric of the local communities, SFS collaborates with local partners through our long-term strategic research plan. The research objectives are carefully aligned with the goals of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the African Wildlife Foundation, African Conservation Center, World Wildlife Fund, East African Wildlife Society, the World Conservation Union, and the Tanzania National Parks Authority.
Additionally, local community members and government officials play an important role in guiding the Center’s research. The research plan works to provide current, quality data for these stakeholders to determine better ways to monitor and manage habitat degradation and land-use changes while bolstering tourism and finding balance between economic and conservation goals in the predominantly Maasai regions of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.