Summer session II in Tanzania is in full swing. So far, students have conducted vegetation assessments, assessed tracks and signs of wildlife around Lake Manyara, learned how to identify individuals within a population and how to track radio-collared animals, and established contours to prevent soil erosion in the highlands around the SFS camp in Rhotia.
In the last two weeks we have explored the protected areas in the Tarangire-Manyara Ecosystem: Lake Manyara National Park and its rich woodland vegetation, diversity of primates and plains game; Tarangire National Park and its high density of African Elephants roaming around the Baobab trees; and Manyara Ranch, a crucial area for the seasonal wildlife migrations between the two National Parks and Lake Natron. In these three protected areas, SFS students conducted animal counts and utilized these data to improve their quantitative skills in wildlife ecology. The regular counting of animal populations is a crucial part for the center’s 5 Year Research Plan—using results from the regular animal counts, we are evaluating the performance of different protection schemes and the overall performance of wildlife populations in the entire ecosystem. Integrating this exercise into the syllabus allows students to gain hands-on experience and contribute to wildlife conservation in the ecosystem.