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Raptor Biology and Conservation

Faculty-LedFaculty-Led | Ecology & Conservation Kenya

Overview

Historically, Kenya used to have some of the highest raptor numbers and raptor diversity in the world, but these numbers have increasingly come under threat for a variety of inter-related reasons. As such, raptors are an excellent taxonomic group with which to demonstrate the many challenges surrounding monitoring and conserving globally declining species. A Raptor Biology and Conservation program can introduce students to some of the issues Kenya’s raptors face via a blended mix of lectures, in-field data collection and analysis, and some bird handling.

Why Kenya?

The Naivasha Owl Centre on the shores of Lake Naivasha exposes students to a wide variety of birds of prey and is an excellent partner in helping students learn specifics on biology, ecological niches and immediate threats. Hell’s Gate National Park and Soysambu Conservacy similarly expose students to an incredible variety of bird and mammal species that are unique to Kenya, and provide interesting case studies of how raptors and wildlife in general adapt to mixed land use with cattle and nearby unplanned settlements. Aside from its famous wildlife and natural spaces, Kenya is a bustling and diverse country with a rich cultural, linguistic and ethnic heritage and provides a compelling backdrop from which to study conservation efforts in the 21st century.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this program, students will be able to:

  • Develop skills relating to the handling and licensed ringing/banding of raptors
  • Record and interpret field data
  • Gain anatomical knowledge of raptors through observing raptor flight training and veterinary surgeries
  • Analyze the historical context of raptors in Kenya and falconry, as well as modern threats to raptors
  • Discuss the roles of private and government stakeholders in conservation, raptor biology and Kenyan raptor identification

Contributors

Simon Thomsett

Simon has been working with raptors since childhood. He has worked with most species of birds of prey across Africa and assisted researchers in projects in Madagascar, India and Nepal.

He is more at home doing hands-on management rather than discussing it at conferences and promotes regulated rehabilitation, falconry, veterinary work and raptor care in research – areas he feels must all work together rather than be divided. He has always lived in locations suited to his birds and has made a rustic camp in a small forest on Soysambu conservancy. Here there are tree houses, hobbit houses and a mud built center powered by solar and using only rain water. Lions, leopards and buffalos share this home along with eagles. Students get to spend some of their time here during the course.

Shiv Kapila

Shiv was born in Nairobi, Kenya at a time when there was still enough birdlife within the city to keep a young boy busy. He lived near world-famous sites such as Lake Naivasha, Hell’s Gate National Park and the Maasai Mara National Reserve, among many others – all of which were duly and promptly explored.

He obtained a Masters in Conservation from University College London and then joined the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association as a certified Safari guide. Shiv’s enduring project and passion is studying African fish eagles at Lake Naivasha and the other Kenyan Rift Valley lakes, Baringo, Bogoria and Nakuru. Working with many of Africa’s foremost experts in the raptor field, such as Simon Thomsett and Munir Virani, Shiv has also studied martial eagles, vultures and owls all over Kenya.

Customize Your Program

Our friendly and experienced team will work closely with you to develop your custom faculty-led program from conceptualization to execution. We believe every journey to Africa gives students the opportunity to learn and transform and we pride ourselves in our ability to create unique, sustainable and truly African transformative learning journeys.


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Brackenhurst Botanic Gardens

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