Last week we embarked on our first expedition, which included spending four nights in Tarangire National Park. We spent our days doing animal counts while identifying species, gender, and age of all mammals we saw, and observing elephant behavior by watching several different family groups. We also did a walk by Lake Manyara so we can create habitat management plans to improve the area for zebras, giraffes, Thomson’s gazelles, and Cape buffalo. We had a lot of fun watching the stars at night and sleeping in tents while listening to chirping crickets, and I found myself falling asleep early every night because we were so active during the day.

This week, after recovering from the expedition, we went in pairs to live with local families for a day. The homestay was very educational, teaching us about daily life, cooking, and livestock keeping while giving us a chance to improve our Swahili. I drank some delicious milk tea and homemade Tanzanian donuts, helped make a lunch of goat, rice, and cabbage. We also played with the couple’s granddaughters and neighbor’s kids that curiously stopped by to say hello and meet us.

It’s crazy that we’ve already been here over a month… time has been flying, and the longer we are here, the more we don’t want to leave. We are entering the rainy season, which means more animals are around, but usually it only rains at night or in the mornings, so it has not yet inhibited our activities. I’ve been having a great time and am learning a lot, looking forward to our Serengeti expedition at the end of the month and beginning Directed Research shortly after.

Hope all is well around the rest of the world!

Elephants in Tarangire National Park wallowing in a mud pool.

Zebras we saw on foot next to Lake Manyara.

Our host family for the homestay.

→ Wildlife Management Studies Semester Program in Tanzania