June 23, 2013

Segera Visit and Weekend Renewal

On Friday we visited Segera Ranch, a ranch that borders Mpala ranch where we are staying.  Segera works closely with its community members on its borders and we heard a  presentation by Njenga, the coordinator of the Zeitz Foundation’s outreach programs.  More information can be found here.  Students were impressed with the various projects underway: construction of schools above huge water tanks to retain rainwater, outreach with women’s groups to create beadwork for sale in the U.K., beekeeping ventures, football leagues that include conservation education, and traveling theater troupes that provide environmental education. We also met with the ranch manager, Mark Jenkins, who provided us with a brief overview of the Segera management philosophy, which combines cattle and ecotourism.

In the afternoon on Friday students had time for journaling, reading, and studying for the practical exam — which took place Saturday morning.  Students aced the exam!  About 25 grasses/trees, 25 mammals/birds, and a dozen or more dung samples were on the practical.  In the afternoon students put the finishing touches on their research posters, which they presented immediately after dinner.  In teams of two, each group had been working on data analysis using a subset of data we collected during the course.  The students have helped uncover some very interesting trends – which we’ll report in an upcoming post!

Immediately after the presentations we headed out on another night drive.  Within the first kilometer of our journey, we spotted a leopard!  It quickly crossed the road and not everyone was able to catch the fleeting glimpse.   The rest of the drive included spotting owls, oryx, and elephant.

Sunday has been a lazy morning – with tea, conversation, and resting.  We were lucky that a herd of elephants came to the opposite side of the river, which we enjoyed watching for many hours.  It has been a wonderful weekend and it is hard to believe we have only 2 days left in the course!  – Ryan Sensenig, Associate Professor of Biology, Goshen College

 

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