The SFS Center for Water and Wildlife Studies


In the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, Kenya’s grassy savannas, Rift Valley lakes, and mountain highlands provide habitats for an astounding diversity of flora and fauna including the Big Five – lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo, and rhinos. The region is also home to pastoralist tribal communities such as the Maasai, and its famed national parks attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Kenya’s biodiversity is under threat from ecosystem fragmentation and human development, and shifting human demographics, land-use designations, and natural resource availability are putting a strain on traditional livelihoods. Our research here focuses on one of Earth’s most essential natural resources – water – as we examine the impacts of these threats and explore conservation approaches to water management that will benefit humans and wildlife alike.



Water, Wildlife, and Community

Spend your semester in the national parks and communities of Kenya, studying one of Earth’s most vital resources – water. Head into the field and learn how changes in water availability have cascading effects on Kenya’s spectacular ecosystems and those living in them. Study the root causes of these changes and how increased resource competition impacts wildlife behavior and human livelihoods.
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15 Weeks
18 Credits
Spring 2019

Jan 30 - May 10

Filling Fast

Fall 2019

Sep 2 - Dec 11


Spring 2020

Feb 3 - May 13


summer session I

Primates of the African Savanna

Spend your summer researching primate behavior and ecology in Kenya’s national parks and ranching communities. Observe different species such as baboons, vervet monkeys, and patas monkeys in the field, and collect data on individual activities and patterns of social behavior – data which helps inform the efforts of local conservation managers and policymakers.
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04 Weeks
04 Credits
Summer 2019

Jun 3 - Jul 3


Life In The Field

The Center lies in the heart of Kenya’s Rift Valley, nestled between three world-famous national parks. The snow-capped peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro towers over miles of savanna, replete with a diversity of wildlife. Campus is a sprawling, grassy compound made up of traditional thatched bandas (cabins) and a central chumba (main building), steps away from the friendly village of Kimana.

  • Dorm living with 4-person bandas
  • Chumba contains classroom, computer lab, and study spaces
  • Kitchen and dining hall, on-site cooking staff
  • Outdoor porch with views of Mt. Kilimanjaro
  • One-mile running trail on campus
  • Volleyball, soccer, Frisbee, and fire pit
Click here to read stories from students, staff and faculty in the field

My time at SFS gave me not only the skills to conduct field research and the knowledge to understand complex wildlife management scenarios, but it instilled confidence that I could thrive in novel situations and taught me how to engage with a diverse group of people.

Kaitlyn Gaynor
Columbia University


Research at the SFS Center for Water and Wildlife Studies focuses on one of Earth’s most essential natural resources – water. Students explore how Kenya’s spectacular wildlife, diverse ecosystems, and tribal communities face environmental threats, like climate change, to this and other natural resources. Students and faculty engage with staff at national parks and conservation areas, local communities such as the Maasai, NGOs, and local landholders.

Our research focuses primarily on the following themes:

  • Water quality and use
  • Climate change resilience
  • Livestock-wildlife conflicts
  • Community wildlife sanctuaries
  • National park management

Environmental Issues

Our Centers are strategically located in regions facing critical environmental issues. Students and faculty study these issues and collect data to help facilitate sustainable responses. In Kenya, we’re currently investigating the following issues:

Climate Change
Biodiversity Conservation
Land Use Change
Tourism Impacts
Natural Resource & Water Management
Sustainable Livelihoods
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The Local Community

SFS is an active member of the Kimana community. During the program, students visit local markets and a neighboring boma (Maasai homestead), participate in traditional Maasai celebrations, perform outreach and community service in local schools and villages and join in local sports. SFS research data is made available to the local community, national parks and conservation areas, and the Kenyan government.

Meet Our Team

John Kioko Masila, Ph.D.

Associate Professor in Natural Resource Management
Meet Kioko

John Warui Kiringe, Ph.D.

Resident Lecturer in Wildlife Ecology
Meet Kiringe

Kendi Borona, Ph.D.

Resident Lecturer in Human Dimensions of Conservation
Meet Kendi