After spending several months in East Africa, it has been hard for me to imagine how any new experience could possibly be able to surpass our previous adventures. However, the past four days of expedition in Serengeti National Park have exceeded my expectations, while exposing me to the incredible authenticity and magic of Africa.
While our main purpose for being in the Serengeti was for academic exercises, each day was also filled with exciting game drives, bursting with many species that we have not really been exposed to thus far. For two out of the four days, we conducted four field exercises within the park. The first exercise was a bird identification of the species within the Serengeti. Some of my favorites were the Lilac Breasted Roller and the White-headed Buffalo Weaver. It was fascinating to be exposed to such a huge amount of bird biodiversity, compared to what I see in my daily life at home.
We also conducted an exercise devoted to tourists, where we followed tourist vehicles and noted their main activities along with how long they would stop to watch certain animals. Other activities included a predator-prey interaction exercise and an herbivore vigilance exercise. Each afternoon once we finished our exercises, we spent the remainder of our time driving around the park observing the vast amount of wildlife throughout the area.
One of the most notable experiences that I had in the Serengeti was when we drove through the migration of wildebeest and zebra. Every March and April, these animals begin their migration back into Kenya, covering the landscape of the Serengeti. Words and pictures cannot begin to explain the expansiveness and impressiveness of the migration, with animals literally scattered everywhere throughout the horizon. It’s pretty incredible to witness the intensity of these animals’ journeys, and to see what they must go through annually just to survive. Overall, all of the game drives in the Serengeti allowed us to see hyenas, lions, leopards, wildebeests, zebras, cheetahs, and several other species of herbivores. Our experience is going to be something that I’ll never be able to forget.
After our week of birds, wildlife, and beautiful sunsets, we are now back at Moyo Hill in Rhotia. Tomorrow we have an exam covering all of the material that we have went through since arriving in Tanzania. After our exam, we finally will begin to work on our Directed Research projects, which will occupy the remainder of our time in East Africa. I am excited to learn what I’ll be researching over the next month, and I look forward to discovering what the last half of my Tanzanian experience has in store for me!