Students began the 34th Directed Research on Wednesday, April 11th. The chumba was left behind and students entered a new learning environment, one where they were in charge of collecting important data. Each faculty member is in charge of a DR group and each group is addressing a similar issue – the viability and future of the Amboseli Ecosystem – but from different angles.
While tromping through a river, one group is assessing the physical and vegetative status of Nooltrish River in several different group ranches. This group is also conducting community interviews in order to better understand the health and status of the river that runs through the Amboseli Ecosystem. Along with Kenyan Wildlife Service Rangers, another group is conducting transect counts and habitat mapping on foot to assess the viability of local sanctuaries based on habitat use. Several days are also spent following animals on foot in order to better understand their movement within different sanctuaries. Moving from house to house, the final group is conducting household interviews to create an understanding of land tenure and use changes, livelihoods, human-wildlife conflicts and conservation awareness in the Amboseli dispersal area.
The students work together to collect data, which adds to the research collected in the Five-Year Research Plan. Along with a lot of data collection, hard work, sweaty backs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, students get the chance to meet new people, drink chai, snack on oranges and stop at the Royal Café Bistro for their famous ice cream. Directed Research for many students is their first introduction to field work, but for others it is added experience. Nonetheless, the experience gained from doing research is not only beneficial for future research positions but also unforgettable.