The first month at Moyo Hill Camp in Tanzania flew by! As the intern here at the SFS Center for Wildlife Management Studies in Tanzania, it’s been great getting to know the students and watching how quickly they are learning about the environment, language, and culture of Tanzania. Last week the students really got to use all of this knowledge when we went on our first expedition of the semester.

The students, staff, and myself spent five days camping and conducting natural and social science research near Tarangire National Park. This expedition was a great opportunity for the students to go out in the field and put all of their research skills to use. The students spent the first couple of days researching wildlife in Tarangire National Park. Luckily there was time for some just-for-fun game drives in the park as well! Tarangire is famous for its high density of elephants, and the students were not disappointed. We estimated that we saw over 600 elephants after just two days in the park! The good luck continued when the students made SFS history by spotting a pack of African wild dogs! African wild dogs are one of the most endangered mammals in the world so we were extremely fortunate to see them in the wild. In fact, it was the first time SFS students have seen African wild dogs in Tanzania.

During the expedition, students also had the opportunity to explore important conservation sites outside of the park. The students learned about the human side of conservation in Tanzania through social science research and discussions with local community members. The students visited and compared and contrasted the various types of conservation areas in Tanzania – such as national parks, wildlife management areas, and private conservation areas. They then practiced their interviewing skills (and their Swahili and Maa language skills!) when they interviewed local Massai community members about the challenges they are facing concerning the rapid loss of natural resources in the area. The combination of natural science and social science skills that the students are learning really helps the students grasp the complexity of the conservation issues in Tanzania.

I’m really looking forward to the next few months with this wonderful group of students and I can’t wait to join them on more adventures!