Name: George Ekisa, Ph.D.
Position: Lecturer in Environmental Policy and Socioeconomics
Program: Wildlife Management Studies, Kenya
One of the main focuses of the SFS curriculum in Kenya is human-wildlife conflict. The students have been learning not only about the ecology of the wildlife that surrounds them here in Kenya, but also of the policy that surrounds the interaction between humans and wildlife in the Amboseli region and how to manage that interaction. The students conducted interviews with the local communities to gain a deeper understanding of the perspective of the individuals living in the Kimana and Kuku group ranches.
The students separated into groups led by local guides to interview local agriculturalists and pastoralists on their personal experiences with wildlife conflict. They learned about the sorts of damages that were seen, the certain types of wildlife that create more conflict, and the types of resolution they reach. They gained a more intimate perspective of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and their role in rural communities. They have been expanding their knowledge on the sorts of compensation programs in place and how the government assists and when they do not.
The experience of interviewing within the community enhanced the students’ academic experience of learning about the human-wildlife conflict in the Amboseli region. It also greatly enhanced the social aspect of the study abroad experience by creating community interactions and connections.