We are deep into data collection for Wildlife Ecology Directed Research on the water quality and ecology of the Noolturesh River. Each day begins with excitement as we jump in the cars by 7:30 am to drive to the river. Some of us are deep in the river collecting water samples and measuring turbidity, others are mapping vegetation and evaluating the degree of soil erosion near the river. I have been spending my days on the farms near the river documenting signs of human encroachment, mapping houses/toilets, and analyzing the crops and agrochemicals used on the farms. Our local guides from the area have become our best friends—they have been with us every step of the way and motivate us to keep on working.

After working on the river for several days now, it is astounding to see the vast amount of soil erosion, polluted water, and human impact from the farms. Our project is analyzing how the Noolturesh River is degrading quickly from pollution and overuse of water by farms and houses in the area. The river has changed drastically in just the past five years, and our data is suggesting that in the very near future, the river will be completely dried up, leaving the farms and people without a source of water.

Our group is motivated to propose solutions to the community on how to save the Noolturesh River in our final DR presentation. Directed Research has been one of the most rigorous, yet rewarding and exciting parts of this program – collaborating with Dr. Kiringe, staff, local community members, and working as a team to help save the Noolturesh makes each day of DR an awesome adventure!