Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology
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"SIT Tanzania helped me develop a different perspective on the world and to view things through a very different, non-western lens."
Tara Boggaram, The University of Texas at Austin
Tanzania is a beautiful and diverse country that includes the Serengeti Plains, the snows of Kilimanjaro, and the islands of Zanzibar. Within the Serengeti ecosystem (approximately 25,000 square km) is Olduvai Gorge, the site of the famous discoveries by the Leakeys’ of pre- Homo sapien fossils. The Serengeti also contains the immense Ngorongoro Crater, a 20-mile-wide volcanic crater, home to a large and diverse population of wildlife. In addition to the diversity of wildlife, there is also diversity among the people with more than 120 ethnic groups, mostly of Bantu origin, each with its own language. From an economic perspective, Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world, by GDP per capita based on PPP (Purchasing Parity Power).
Scale and Location
Two key watchwords for this program are "scale" and "location." Students consider a few essential questions throughout the semester, watching to see how changes in scale and location affect the answers to questions. To fully appreciate the diversity and complexity of this region, students move around the country quite a bit and explore the variety of natural habitats. Excursions are chosen specifically to provide a variety of locations and scale.
Not Just Science
In this interdisciplinary program, students realize that ecosystems are inseparable from the human ecology of the region, that issues related to development and human population growth inevitably affect the natural habitat and vice versa. Through the Field Study Seminar and other field work, students learn to integrate their scientific learning with the social sciences, creating a more complete, realistic picture of questions of ecology and conservation.
The Program has three major in-country partners: the Sokoine University of Agriculture, the Klub Afriko Cultural Orientation Center, and the host communities. These partners are instrumental in the success of the program, and many students have returned to work with the program’s partners in future endeavors.
Independent Study Project
Students spend four weeks near the end of the semester working on an Independent Study Project (ISP), pursing original research on a selected topic of interest to them. The ISP is conducted in Arusha, Moshi, or surrounding areas, or with program approval, in other parts of Tanzania.
Sample topic areas include:
- Impact of tourism on the natural environment or cultures
- Management options in designated wildlife areas
- Environmental education
- Soil conservation in Mayo Village
- Wildlife-livestock disease interactions in the Kwakuchinja corridor
- Behavior of Colobus guereza in Sagara Forest
- Canopy and habitat use in sympatric primate species
- Modernized farming methods in Mgambo
- Kibosho youths’ views on population and the environment
- Vegetation analysis of elephant damage at Ndarakwai Ranch
Note: Because of restrictions on fieldwork in Tanzania, students should expect to spend all or most of the Independent Study Project outside the boundaries of Tanzania’s national parks.
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Tanzania, Arusha
Language Study: Swahili
Prerequisites: Coursework in environmental studies, biology, sociology, anthropology, or international relations Read more...
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