Center for Wildlife and Water Studies


In the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, lies Kenya. 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 pastoralist Maasai people and other deep-rooted communities call this region home. Kenya’s famed national parks attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Kenya’s biodiversity and traditional cultures are under threat. Ecosystem fragmentation and human development are taking their toll on wildlife populations and depleting the region’s natural resources. Our research here focuses on sustainable conservation approaches that will address these issues and reduce conflict between humans and wildlife.



Wildlife, Water, and Climate Resilience

Spend your semester in the world-famous national parks and stunning landscapes of Kenya, studying the country’s diverse wildlife – from colossal elephants to the endangered black rhinoceros – and approaches to conservation. Here, in the heart of the Great Rift Valley, climate change and natural resource availability are affecting Kenya’s ecosystems and those living in them. Research the root causes of these changes and how different conservation strategies can benefit...
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15 Weeks
18 Credits
Fall 2020

Sep 1 - Dec 12


Spring 2021

Jan 26 - May 8


Fall 2021

Aug 31 - Dec 11


winter session

Foundations of Wildlife Management and Conservation

Spend your winter break exploring the rich biodiversity and stunning landscapes of Kenya where world-famous national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and protected areas are your classroom. Explore the complexity of sustainable wildlife conservation including learning how the Maasai and other communities interact with wildlife and nature. Conduct animal behavior observations on safari drives where you’ll see a range of iconic African species.
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03 Weeks
03 Credits
Winter 2021

Dec 28 - Jan 15


summer session I

Fundamentals of Wildlife Management

Kenya + Tanzania. In this two-country summer study abroad program, the world-famous national parks and reserves of Kenya and Tanzania are your classrooms. Through safari drives and field excursions, study wildlife found nowhere else on the planet – in person. Discuss different approaches to wildlife management and conservation, and learn about traditional knowledge and culture from Maasai and other community groups.
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04 Weeks
04 Credits
Summer 2021

May 31 - Jun 30


summer session II

Primates of the African Savanna

Primates are some of the most intelligent species on the planet and a fascinating case study on animal behavior. During this summer study abroad program, venture into Kenya’s national parks to study these complex, social creatures. Through field observations and research, learn about the ecology and behavior of Syke’s, colobus, and vervet monkeys, bush babies, and yellow and olive baboons as well as human-wildlife conflict and conservation issues.
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04 Weeks
04 Credits
Summer 2020

Jul 6 - Aug 5


Summer 2021

Jul 5 - Aug 4


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. Students and staff live on a sprawling, grassy campus made up of traditional thatched bandas (cabins) and a central chumba (main building), just down the road from the small town of Kimana.

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

The Center is absolutely stunning and beyond exceeds my expectations! My banda (room) is spacious and comfortable. On a simple trip to the bathroom, I have a clear view of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The vervet monkeys and duikers glide between the trees surrounding the campus.

Makenna Kull
Clemson University


Research at the SFS Center for Wildlife and Water Studies focuses on the ways in which climate change is impacting natural resources and wildlife populations. We explore how Kenya’s wildlife, ecosystems, and communities face and respond to environmental threats, and the strategies that can help build a more sustainable future. Students and faculty engage with national park staff and conservation experts, Maasai and other Indigenous peoples, NGOs, and landowners to gain different perspectives and contribute research data to the community.
Our research focuses primarily on the following themes:

  • Wildlife management
  • Climate change resilience
  • Water conservation
  • Primate social behavior
  • Wildlife ecology
  • Community wildlife conservation
  • National parks 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. Students have the opportunity to visit local markets and a neighboring boma (Maasai homestead), spend the day with a local family, participate in traditional Maasai celebrations, take part in 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.