Recent Posts

May 21, 2014

Monday May 19th, 2014 Today was a day to work on our research projects, discuss readings, and perhaps most notably, to revisit the school in Lekiji (a pastoralist community located on a plot of land nearby to Mpala Ranch). Since our previous visit, ideas concerning ways in which we could help the school had been floating around. We discussed as a group what the best ways are to help communities with access to fewer resources. Through these discussions we decided that we would buy and install guttering on the largest classroom at the school in order to make useable a…

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May 20, 2014

The final weekend

Saturday May 17, 2014 After two full days of traveling to different ranches it was nice to have a more relaxed morning today. However, there was still work to be done. After breakfast we were working hard on studying for the practical exam which was Saturday at 4pm. We would help each other identify trees, mammals, reptiles, birds, grasses, and dung. The practical took about an hour and for the most part everyone knew most of the questions except for a few questions that Ryan through in to surprise us. After supper we had the optional game drive which everyone…

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May 19, 2014

Friday May 16th, 2014 Today was our visit to Segera.  Originally scheduled for Monday of this week, we, as a class, were glad to be able to go and visit at all– roads had been washed out earlier, as the black cotton variety of soil that is between us and Segera holds water very well, and for a very long time.  So long, in fact, that the roads were still a little bit untraversable– our land rover got stuck twice, the second time requiring us to be pulled out by a friendly gentleman in a more all-terrain truck… who got stuck in pulling us out of the…

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May 18, 2014

Thursday 15th May, 2014 Today we woke up very early, preparing ourselves for a long journey to Ol Pejeta Conservancy with an aim of exploring conservation and development. At Ol Pejeta we were given a brief introduction by Giles Prettejohn, the cattle manager of the Conservancy. We learned that it is 90,000 ha and their main objective is wildlife conservation, though they believe cattle can enhance the production of wildlife. This means they have about 7000 cattle alongside their wildlife. We also received a presentation by the staff at the research center. Douglas Kamaru, of the Ecological Monitoring Unit, gave…

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May 17, 2014

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 Today was a full day with an interesting variety of experiences. This morning we visited Mogwooni cattle ranch and met with the manager and owner, Jackie Kenyon. Here we were exposed to a different view on land management. Jackie  produces high quality Boran cattle which are considered to be some of the best throughout the world. We discussed his methods of management, which include exclusion of wildlife, burning and charcoling to maintain high grass quality, and movement of his cattle to various paddocks to prevent overgrazing. This was interesting to hear since we so-far have mainly…

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May 17, 2014

Laikipia Wildlife Forum

Tuesday May 13th, 2014 First of all apologies for a late entry. We’ve been very busy this past week, which is of course a good thing. Tuesday’s morning lecture was given by Josephat Musyima from the Laikipia Wildlife Forum. This organization brings wildlife conservation interests to the Laikipia region through different programs that do not just focus on wildlife directly but also work on community development that indirectly influences wildlife. Living in a region where wildlife numbers are growing alongside people is amazing. In the U.S. we often support wildlife conservation by separating and compartmentalizing certain spaces for wildlife and others…

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May 15, 2014

“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.” – Secret Life of Walter Mitty This quote seemed very appropriate to finish our trip with. I discovered it while watching the movie it came from on the plane ride home. I think there is a simplistic beauty in it’s complexity. Its easy to talk about the enlightenment that can come from seeing the world. The complexity is in the doing and actually taking a look not just behind the wall of…

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May 15, 2014

Field work on Monday

Monday May 12th, 2014 The variability of savanna ecosystems was in full effect today. In the early morning, we said goodbye to the River Camp and moved our belongings to the Mpala Research Center. We would later be divided up and moved into our various sleeping quarters. Originally, the plan for our class was to take a day trip to Segera Ranch. The purpose of this visit was to talk with the ranch manager, as we have begun to look at the sociological implications of people and cattle living in close proximity to wildlife, and the various ways that this…

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May 14, 2014

Weekend activities

Saturday and Sunday May 10-11, 2014  Over the weekend we were able to catch up on some much needed sleep and relaxation after a week filled with hours of field work. On Saturday we had a late breakfast at 8 am and spent the morning reading, catching up on home work, and playing cards. Shortly after lunch we gathered in the vehicles and headed to Mukenya, which is a granite rock structure formed because the hard granite is less susceptible to erosion than the earth around it. There are many of these formations throughout Kenya. The hike up the formation…

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May 10, 2014

I have now been out of the United States for about 15 out of the last 18 weeks. And I’ve been a full-time college student the entire time. Amazingly, I haven’t felt like I have been missing out on any learning at the school. In fact, I cannot think of a better use of these last 18 weeks than what I have been doing. My spring semester was spent in Peru for SST, where I studied and did voluntary service while living with host families for 13 weeks. After a 3-week stay at home in Kansas (and a few days…

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