Name: John Kioko, Ph.D.
Position: Lecturer in Wildlife Ecology
Program: Wildlife Management Studies, Tanzania
One of the key highlights of the program was the trip to Ngorongoro Crater – one of the eight wonders of the world. We visited the conservation area on September 30th, where we had a lecture by the park warden and then drove down into the crater. The 250 km2 is home diverse wildlife. We saw lions, rhinos, elephants and leopards – to much delight of the students. One of the unique aspects of SFS is the hands-on learning students get immersed in.
On October, 6th we visited Burunge Wildlife Managed Area (WMA) for a roundtable discussion with the area management on community conservation in Tanzania. After this trip, students had a week to finalize assignments and prepare for their main examination. In order to help students prepare for the exam the entire faculty facilitated discussions on the key issues learned during the course. The exam covered wildlife management techniques, wildlife ecology, and environmental policy – the three main courses. In the earlier weeks, students had completed tests for Kiswahili and social culture courses.
After the exams on 14th October we started to prepare for a five day long trip to world renown Serengeti National Park. Serengeti is famous for the wildebeest migration and a high carnivore density. The journey to Serengeti took us through Ngorongoro Conservation area, which is the eastern part of the Serengeti Ecosystem.
The drive through Ngorongoro highlands into the open plains of Serengeti gave the students a chance to witness the diverse habitats in East Africa. The plains neighboring Serengeti National Park were awash with thousands of Thomson gazelles. Within a short a two-hour drive into our base camp in the park, we had already seen more than 10 lions and an array of plain game – great way to start the trip.
Subsequent days in the park were spent doing field exercises on the ecology of various wildlife species such as elephants, giraffe, and birds. Each day we woke up at 6.am to observe wildlife before the heat of the day. We had two guest talks – on management of the park by the park warden and on techniques of studying lions by a senior scientist with Serengeti Lion Research Project.
After a five hour trip from Serengeti we return back to our base camp, to start preparing for the switch to Kenya. The students are excited to start a new experience in Kenya, though sad to leave Tanzania. In our final debrief, they described the program as “eye opening.” Tomorrow, this group leaves for Kenya and the group in Kenya will arrive in Tanzania.