OVERVIEWNorthern Tanzania and southern Kenya offer a tightly packed hub for wildlife tourism. The area is home to world-famous national parks, such as Amboseli, Tsavo, Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This extremely scenic area, which is the center of tourism in East Africa, has been the home of the Maasai, Iraqw, and other groups for centuries. The two regions share some bio-physical characteristics and cultural elements, but subtle and distinct differences in conservation and development policy, soil and vegetation composition, water resource availability, and culture provide an opportunity for comparing and contrasting approaches to wildlife management and livelihood strategies of the local people.
Despite the seemingly negative trends of availability and quality of habitat and resources for wildlife and livestock on the Maasai steppe, there are many opportunities for effective conservation, natural resource management, and rural development. Wildlife uses the diverse habitats surrounding the SFS field stations as migration corridors and seasonal dispersal areas.
The Maasai, and now other settlers, depend on these same areas as communal grazing grounds for livestock and for growing food. As a result, they often face economic hardship due to crop damage from migrating wildlife, loss of livestock, and resource depletion and competition.
Agricultural expansion, pollution, and climate change threaten the already strained water supply and the health of people, livestock, and wildlife alike. Thus, the Center’s research is framed by the needs of both human communities and wildlife conservation goals in the region. Our curriculum and research focus on how changes in land use and resource availability in the Maasai steppe ecosystems can be managed to foster the well- being of local communities while safeguarding and promoting biodiversity conservation.
In this two-country program, students will compare and contrast the socioeconomic, policy, and environmental drivers and implications of demographic change and land reform for wildlife conservation and rural development between Kenya and Tanzania.
Students begin the program at one field station, gaining knowledge of the wildlife in the region, the agro-pastoralist lifestyle, and approaches to conservation. Just shy of the halfway point in the semester, students travel overland to the other field station to apply the foundational knowledge of wildlife ecology and management to the specific issues in that region. The Directed Research projects are conducted in the final month of the program at the second field site. Students visit multiple protected areas and communities in both countries.
FIELD RESEARCH, LECTURES, AND EXERCISES
- Visits to cultural manyatta, a rare opportunity to glimpse Maasai and Iraqw cultures, including rural settlements not usually visited by tourists: musical ceremonies, demonstrations in fire- making, dances by Maasai morans (warriors), and lessons in spear-throwing
- Amboseli and Lake Nakuru National Parks: Multi-day excursions illustrating the management implications of high concentrations of animals in a confined area
- Lake Manyara National Park: Visits to learn large mammal identification, baboon ecology, threats to wetlands from tourism, land-use changes, and local resource uses
- Tarangire National Park: Excursions on animal counting, wildlife management, lion ecology and behavior, conservation models, and preservation of corridors
- Ngorongoro Conservation Area: Day trip to learn integrated management, inclusion of indigenous communities in conservation and management of natural resources, large mammal ecology, animal identification, and the role of volcanism in species diversity
- Serengeti National Park: Multi-day field expedition to learn about wildlife management issues, large mammal ecology, large mammal diseases, and large mammal migrations
- Develop field research skills including: habitat assessment and mapping, species identification, research design, data collection, valuation methods, social surveys, wildlife census techniques, GIS, transect and patch sampling, animal behavior observations, geology, and soil identification
SAMPLE DIRECTED RESEARCH
- Local community strategies for coping with variation in water availability
- Assessment of attitudes and awareness on wildlife conservation among the Iraqw and the Maasai communities
- Influence of ecological and social factors on the distribution of African elephants in Tanzania’s Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem
- Animal density differences between areas of differing protection levels
- Importance of habitat quality and heterogeneity on wildlife sanctuary viability
- An evaluation of the effects of land-use changes on the water resources in the Noolturesh River system and its potential implications to public health
- The role of government in human-wildlife conflict resolution in Kenya’s Amboseli ecosystem
- Community service work in local schools, hospitals, orphanages, and with a local women’s group
- Visit and stay with Iraqw and Maasai communities during homestay in Tanzania and Kenya
- Visits to local markets and a neighboring boma (Maasai homestead) for traditional Maasai celebrations, a lecture on culture and artifacts, and jewelry making with Maasai mamas, while conducting interviews for research work
HOUSINGThe Center operates in two locations in southwestern Kenya and northern Tanzania.
In Kenya, SFS students live at our Kilimanjaro Bush Camp (KBC), near the town of Kimana, and situated in the remote foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem. The camp is nestled within a lush zone of yellow acacia trees, giving a perfect view of the magnificent mountains in the distance. Students sleep in thatched-roof bandas and enjoy the main building or chumba, which houses a dining room, kitchen, and classroom. Ample space at camp allows for outdoor games and exploration.
In Tanzania, students live at Moyo Hill Camp (MHC) located in the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem between Lake Manyara National Park and the famous Ngorongoro Conservation Area. This wonderfully scenic area is world-renowned for its beauty, geography, history, and wildlife. MHC comprises part of a small community where students can enjoy daily interaction with neighbors. Walking, jogging, soccer, and socializing outside of the camp round out daily life at MHC.