School for Field Studies - Kenya & Tanzania
Community Wildlife Management
Wildlife Management Studies
In Kenya, the search for ecologically appropriate solutions to the conflict between human and wildlife habitat is at a critical juncture. Urban, industrial, and agricultural expansion and Kenya?s soaring population increasingly threaten the habitat required by Kenya?s wildlife, and in turn, the culture, viability and well-being of traditional, nomadic peoples such as the Maasai. Lion, elephant, giraffe, rhino, monkey, zebra, and other indigenous wildlife are the country?s most famous and economically valuable resource, the result of a well-developed global tourism industry. The rangelands where wildlife and pastoralists previously interacted freely and peacefully are now places of rapidly increasing human/wildlife conflicts and intensifying resource competition. Land, water, pasture, and space are diminishing every year, posing great challenges to wildlife and environmental conservation. Nomadic peoples, including the Maasai and the cattle herds they depend upon, are being confined to smaller plots of land, resulting in overgrazing and rangeland degradation. Further, the wildlife, which has co-existed for centuries with these non-hunting peoples, are now not only seen as competitors, but are themselves intensely persecuted through illegal practices such as snaring for bush meat trade. Threats to wildlife in dispersal areas outside protected areas are many, but even in protected areas where they seemed safe, negative impacts of tourism and administrative activities are causing another serious danger to biodiversity conservation objectives.
LEARN FIELD RESEARCH SKILLS AT THE BASE OF MT. KILIMANJARO AND IN WORLD-FAMOUS NATIONAL PARKS
Live in close proximity to wildlife and local Maasai communities on an African savanna. Learn to speak Swahili. Learn about East African tribal culture. Explore human/wildlife conflicts from the perspective of the Maasai and park managers. Research ways to preserve traditional Maasai culture and wildlife viability.
Kenya Program Description
Our research focuses on exploring innovative ways in which Kenya?s wildlife can be both conserved and utilized as an income source to benefit the local community. Identifying appropriate land-use practices that enable local Maasai and other residents to maximize and sustain production without degradation of the environment is equally important.
The diverse habitat surrounding our Kilimanjaro Bush Camp is used by wildlife as a migration corridor between Tsavo, Chyulu, and Amboseli National Parks. The Maasai also depend upon this same area as a communal grazing zone for livestock as well as for growing food. As a result, they often face economic hardship due to crop damage and loss of livestock inflicted by migrating wildlife. Student interviews with local Maasai help us gather data and gain a perspective on the priorities and challenges of addressing wildlife conservation among resource-constrained communities. Students also learn about ecological and land-use characterization of the area. Student research is a critical first step in developing integrated land-use strategies that will enable residents to derive optimal benefits from their land and forestall additional fragmentation of key wildlife areas.
While based at our National Park Camp, students focus on management strategies for Kenya?s oldest and most profitable national park. Increased development around Nairobi National Park threatens its biological integrity and has led to the precipitous decline of large mammal populations, tipping the balance of the entire ecosystem. Pollution and climate change threaten the already strained water supply and play a role in the mortality of numerous birds and animals. Increased human and livestock populations in areas surrounding the park are leading to intensified human/wildlife conflicts, including disease, predation, and destruction of crops by migrating wildlife. SFS students are assisting the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and managers of the park through a suite of research projects including: vegetation mapping; grazing and browsing impact surveys; large mammal population counts and distributions; educational facility upgrades; and human impact in the park.
Field Research, Exercises, and Lectures
Through our interdisciplinary approach and a combination of lectures, expeditions, field exercises, and research students learn techniques for wildlife management, wildlife ecology, and environmental policy and socioeconomic values. Field expeditions enable students to observe the pros and cons of various management scheme alternatives. Field expeditions might include:
Amboseli elephant research: students gain excellent experience learning elephant ecology and wildlife management techniques through recording elephant sightings, collecting census data, and understanding ecological keystone and tourism flagship roles and examining human/elephant conflicts.
Maasai Mara: multi-day field trip that frequently includes sightings of lion, leopard, and buffalo and a visit to the hippo pools. Hyena cries can be heard at night; by day, students conduct vegetation analyses comparing fenced and open grazing areas.
Manyatta: rare opportunity to glimpse Maasai culture, including rural settlements not usually visited by tourists. Recent trips have involved students in a musical ceremony by Maasai women, demonstrations in fire-making, dances by Maasai morans (warriors), and lessons in spear throwing.
Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks: multi-day excursions illustrating the management implications of high concentrations of animals in a confined area. The impact of the elephants, whose trumpeting punctuates the night, are clearly visible by daylight.
Student Directed Research Project Examples
Population dynamics, distribution, and vegetation preference of specified fauna residing in Nairobi National Park.
Rangeland and grazing capacity assessment of the grasslands of Nairobi National Park.
Land use patterns and human/wildlife relations in the southern dispersal corridor of Nairobi National Park.
Large mammal dispersal corridors and dispersal areas: human activities and structures causing contraction of wildlife dispersal area, and implications for neighboring protected areas such as Amboseli National Park.
Impact of humans and large mammals such as elephants on plant communities in group ranches and implications of these on wildlife conservation and human livelihoods.
Human population growth and structure, their distribution and use of resources, and implications of these on wildlife conservation in communal Maasai rangelands.
Subdivision of the Maasai group ranches and their implication on land use and wildlife conservation.
Student Research Contributions
SFS has been in Kenya for more than 25 years and many hours of student research have contributed to management plans for game ranches, several Maasai group ranches, and national protected areas, such as Nairobi National Park. A few recent contributions include:
Collaboration between the Amboseli Elephant Research Project and SFS on a proposal to U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFW), entitled ?Mitigating Human-Elephant Conflict in the Amboseli Ecosystem, Kenya? resulting in USFW funding the project for three years (with additional contributions from Born Free and the International Fund for Animal Welfare).
Feasibility study for the establishment of another Maasai-owned wildlife sanctuary in Kuku Group Ranch. Student research has become the basis for a funding proposal to establish a new sanctuary, and in 2005, the group ranch members voted to establish the wildlife sanctuary and seek funding.
Socioeconomic impacts assessment of the Kimana Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS), the first private reserve operated on a Maasai group ranch.
Collaboration with local Maasai and the KWS to conduct the first assessment of water and grazing resources in the Ngong Hills. Decisions regarding stock rotation and use of pasturelands were based on student findings.
Assistance in building a library in the town of Magadi and teaching the local school children about the environment.
Get Involved with the Local CommunityOne of our primary goals is to give back to our host communities around the world. Understanding community views on wildlife, the challenges faced, and management policies employed by park managers is central among our research goals. We maintain strong ties to community members, including park wardens, ranchers, farmers, pastoralists, and others, listening to their needs as we develop research plans. Students have many opportunities for social interaction as well including:
Presentations of research findings to community stakeholders
Visits to local markets and a neighboring boma (Maasai homestead) for traditional Maasai celebrations, a lecture on culture and artifacts, jewelry making with Maasai mamas, and to conduct interviews for research work.
Discussions on tribal culture with field station staff who come from various regions of Kenya and belong to several Kenyan tribal groups including Kamba, Maasai, and Luo.
Community service work in local schools, hospitals, orphanages, and with a local
Visits to an elephant orphanage and a giraffe center.
Applicants for semester programs must have completed at least one college-level ecology or biology course.
*Introduction to Swahili Language and East African Tribal Communities (LE 205E), offers listening, oral, and written practice of Swahili at the beginner level of proficiency. This training will enhance student communications with Maasai, and increase the immersion experience. The socio-cultural module helps students develop a more refined understanding of East African tribal culture and our community partners.
Visit our Web site for a photo tour of our field station: www.fieldstudies.org
Semester students are registered in five academic courses accredited through Boston University:
Course No. Name Credits
BI/EE(NS) 371 Techniques in Wildlife Management 04
BI/EE(NS) 372 Wildlife Ecology 04
EE(SS) 302 Environmental Policy and Socioeconomic Values 04
EE 491 or 492 Directed Research 04
LE 205E Introduction to Swahili Language and East African Tribal Communities* 02
Program Fee Includes
tuition and fees
room and board
pre-departure and on-site orientations
The program fee does not include primary health insurance, airfare, optional travel, personal expenses, books or supplies.
For more information, contact:
Professor Carol Loeffler
P.O. Box 1773
Carlisle, PA 17013-2896
Phone: (717) 245-1360