The highlight of the last weeks was our five-day expedition to Tarangire National Park and its surroundings. Exchanging the comfort of our Moyo Hill center for sleeping in tents and dining under the stars allowed us to discover and experience the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem in more detail. We explored wildlife-packed Tarangire National Park, observed hunting attempts by a cheetah and by a single lioness, studied elephant behavior, enjoyed the beauty of the stunning savannah landscape and completed this season’s animal count within the park. Now, at the end of the dry season, wildlife is highly concentrated around the few water sources inside the park, which makes wildlife observations particularly spectacular.
However, during the wet season, many wildlife species leave the park and migrate or disperse into adjacent human-inhabited areas. During the second half of the expedition, we explored these adjacent areas to see and experience how wildlife and humans co-exist. For example, we visited Manyara Ranch, a key stepping stone for the annual wildebeest and zebra migration, and counted livestock and wildlife species as part of our ecosystem-wide monitoring program. We were welcomed by the Burunge Wildlife Management Area – a community-based conservation scheme- and enjoyed a thorough explanation of how this inclusive conservation approach benefits both wildlife and local people. Finally, we walked through the Kwakuchinja wildlife corridor that connects Tarangire National Park and Manyara Ranch and interviewed local residents about their struggles and solutions to living in close proximity to large wildlife.
Having returned from the expedition with thousands of pictures, data on wildlife counts, and lots of experience and memories, student life at the center is back to “daily routine”; a full day home stay, lectures inside and outside the classroom, and computer labs to analyze animal count data.