Directed Research: Shagala Bagala? Hamna Shida!

Posted: December 2, 2015

We’ve all been having an unforgettable time collecting data for our Directed Research projects. My group went to the Yaeda Valley and walked transects with Hadzabe guides who helped us identify wild animals, tracks, and dung. We walked 10 kilometers a day in various vegetation types and landscapes in the pouring rain and the blazing sun, and had a great time doing it! It was definitely a test of our endurance, but we kept our spirits high by learning from our wonderful guides, singing, playing games, and telling jokes, scary stories, and riddles to each other.

Being in a place that is so under-studied was incredible and proved to be a test of our problem-solving skills as we had to make our own paths through the bush, deal with unforeseen problems (like only having a map with incorrect GPS coordinates and barely functional radios), and had to get our cars out of a few tough spots. We fondly referred to these situations as “shagala bagala” (hot mess) with our motto “hamna shida!” (no problem!) quick to follow as we worked through the issues together.


Two students (Melanie Jochheim-Atkins and Megan Gaeth), a local guide, and an SFS guard after walking transects through the bush.


Peter, a Hadzabe guide, teaching Student Affairs Manager Becky Gottlie, how to shoot a bow and arrow.

Back near our base camp at Moyo Hill, other groups of students saw a giant group of giraffes they named “Giraffic Park,” tried to get reactions out of cows by playing/creating different sounds, tempted baboons near road sides, got to know local phrases and common Swahili blunders, and reveled in how much more we know than the common tourists here.


Baboons investigating roadkill near Lake Manyara National Park


“Giraffic Park” in Manyara Ranch

However, soon we will have to stop collecting our mounds of data and start wading through it. The analysis will most likely be long and arduous as well, and full of “shagala bagala” moments with “hamna shida!” endings.

→ Wildlife Management Studies Semester Program in Tanzania