This program probes analysis of the complex relationships between Kenya’s indigenous communities, land, water, and wildlife. You will be presented with modern challenges and solutions that can help preserve some of the world’s most diverse ecosystems – from African forest and wetlands to the savannah. As Kenya’s human population grows at an ever-increasing rate, improved land management, payments for ecosystem services, and control of human-wildlife conflict are all required to stem the loss of diversity and the habitats that sustain it. This program will provide an understanding of historical and current threats to biodiversity in East Africa, expose you to ecological regenerative practices, and equip you with field-based skills to observe and apply practical solutions to the needs of specific target groups. Geographically, the program is evenly split between Brackenhurst, an eco-campus in Limuru, Kenya, and the Maasai Mara ecosystem.
Key Study Topics
- Forestry and agroforestry
- Ecological restoration and monitoring techniques
- Indigenous vegetation and biodiversity
- Ethnobotany, traditional knowledge systems and their uses in conservation
- Tree nursery management (species identification/propagation)
- Wetlands health and ecosystems services
- Community-based conservation vs. state protection
- Wildlife monitoring/research practices (transect game counts, camera trap grid design/maintenance, mammal identification techniques)
- Human-wildlife conflict
- Nomadic pastoralism, rotational grazing, and grassland management
During this program, you will:
- understand some basic principles of the ecological function of wetlands, forests and savannah ecosystems in Kenya.
- explore the relationship between people and wildlife in wetlands, forest and savannah ecosystems in Kenya
- understand the ecological and socio economic drivers of restoration ecology in a Kenyan three different contexts (wetlands, forest, and savannah)
- appreciate the complexities and challenges of formulating wildlife conservancy agreements
- undertake field-based research techniques applying to restoration ecology in each context
- contrast approaches to restoration ecology in Kenya and other parts of the world
- develop your intercultural competence
- connect insights gained during the program to future career prospects and aspirations
- critically reflect on your individual growth and transformation
Brackenhurst is situated approximately 25 miles north of Nairobi and set in a safe and peaceful environment among the rolling hills of Limuru, which is famous for its vast tea fields and farmland. Brackenhurst is home to one of the largest collections of indigenous plant species in East Africa, with over 1,000 tree and shrub species, many of which are endangered or thought to be extinct within their original distribution zones. It’s also an ideal base from which you can explore the surrounding Kenyan wetlands.
The Maasai Mara, part of the expansive Maasai Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, is comprised of 15 conservancies. These conservancies, the majority of which were formed over the last 10 years, cover over 300,000 acres of land and provide connected critical wildlife habitats that complement national parks and the reserve. They also secure major wildlife migratory corridors. Their vast open plains, Acacia-Commiphora woodland, rocky outcrops, and varied riverine vegetation provide habitat for around 400 bird species and over 60 mammal species whilst hosting some of the highest wildlife densities in Africa. The conservancies are established under the rationale of conserving the environment and its wildlife alongside a mandate to protect, empower, and improve the livelihoods of the local Maasai communities. Over 10,000 Maasai landowners are engaged in the various conservancies and are direct beneficiaries. In this way, their communities are placed at the center of wildlife conservation. The Maasai Mara Conservancies provide an ideal location to study ecology, human influences on the Savannah as well as community-based conservation in East Africa.
28 days, 2022 Dates TBC
- A background in environmental science, conservation biology, agroecology, horticulture, development studies, wildlife studies, or related subjects is ideal (entering 200 level and above).
- We require all participants to be in good academic standing (GPA 2.0 and higher).
- Students must, at the time of application and program participation, be enrolled in a degree program at a tertiary institution.
- Participants need to be culturally-aware and open-minded to thrive in this program.
- All lectures and tutorials are conducted in English; hence a good command of the English language is essential.
Students participating in this program should be aware of and be prepared to handle the following essential elements:
- Walking long distances (i.e. about 5km) over rough and/or muddy terrain during fieldwork exercises
- Traveling on bumpy roads (gravel and tarred)
- Exposure to sun and wind during fieldwork
- Living in a setting away from reliable internet (during your time in Maasai Mara)
- Managing dietary needs with limited available options in the Maasai Mara
- Possessing an awareness that participation in the program might evoke a level of stress, anxiety, and discomfort
- Working collaboratively in teams
Each student who takes part in our programs must have comprehensive medical and travel insurance which also covers any potential COVID-19 related expenses.
We are committed to providing an inclusive and accessible learning environment for all our program participants. Specific needs for disabilities and/or different functionalities should please be communicated to us during the program preparation phase so that they can be assessed, and wherever possible, the appropriate arrangements may be made to accommodate them ahead of time.
We do not currently offer independent credit for this program. However, students are encouraged to contact us so that we supply the required documentation if their participating professors can assist in applying for credit through their home institution. We provide a certificate of completion and a grade report on the successful completion of the program, but we do not provide an official credit-bearing transcript.
Lincoln was born and raised in central Kenya where he developed a passion for all things nature early in life. Pursuing this early passion seemed the obvious thing to do and so, he went on to study and graduate from Egerton University, Kenya with a Bachelor of Sciences in Natural Resource Management. The years that followed saw him work in one of Botswana’s game reserves before leaving to pursue further studies at the University of KwaZulu Natal where he obtained a Masters’ degree in Environment and Development.
Thereafter, he returned to Kenya to work in the Maasai Mara where he was involved with wildlife conservation programs for a number of years before transitioning to endangered species conservation, with a specific focus on rhino conservation. Lincoln is passionate about biodiversity and conservation, especially conservation initiatives that have a community focus and can contribute to the betterment thereof.
Prof. Stewart Thompson
Stewart is a Professor of Biodiversity Conservation and has led the Spatial Ecology and Landuse Unit in Biological & Medical Sciences at Oxford Brookes for over 20 years. He has a particular interest in how threatened species use landscapes in response to policy and management initiatives. Much of his current work surrounds understanding herbivore population changes and movement patterns in protected areas. For the last decade he has been working on projects in the Masai Mara investigating herbivore response to the creation of wildlife conservancies and assessing aspects of eco-tourism impacts to wildlife.
Dr. Sharon Kahara
Sharon is now based in her home country, Kenya, but is on staff with Humboldt State University, California as a lecturer and research associate. Sharon specializes in wetland ecosystem functioning in natural and modified landscapes, as well as wetland wildlife use. Past research activities included evaluating impacts of urbanization on aquatic systems in developing countries, and investigating effects of climate and human activities on wetland ecosystem service delivery.
Cost & Application
Total 4-week Course Cost: $4850
- Lectures and lecture facilities
- All field trip excursions
- Conservation fees
- Course-related stationery and some texts
- The room and board fees cover the following program components:
- All accommodation during the entire program period
- All meals for the entire program period
- All transport related directly to the program
- Emergency air evacuation cover during the time in the Mara (AMREF)
Additional Costs (not accounted for above):
- International airfare to Nairobi
- Visa expenses (vary per country of origin)
- Immunizations (requirements vary per country of origin)
- Recommended reading
- Personal health & travel insurance (including comprehensive cover for any potential COVID-19 related costs, e.g. testing, quarantine, medication, or hospitalization)
- Optional activities
- Discretionary Expenses
Individual interests and extra-curricular activities determine how much extra each student needs to budget for their stay in Kenya. Incidental expenses, as well as any non-program-related travel costs, are the responsibility of each student. Optional activities in Nairobi National Park, Karura Forest, Gatamaiyu Forest, and Hell’s Gate National Park are also at the discretion of the student.
Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, EDU Africa reserves the right to change its fees or add additional expenses as necessary.
Application deadline: 30 April 2022
Earlier applications are encouraged as there are limited placements available.
You will be contacted within 14 working days of submitting an application to set up an interview as the second stage of the process.
The final determination will be communicated to you no later than May 15, 2022.
To apply, complete our Student Application Form
Student Blog Post: My Study Abroad in Kenya experience
Student Reflection Essay: A Student Journey of Transformation
The Forum on Education Abroad recognizes EDU Africa Kenya for meeting the field’s Standards of Good Practice. All our Kenya programs have successfully completed The Forum’s Quality Improvement Program (QUIP) and earned QUIP recognition.
Kiambethu Tea Farm
Touring the Kiambethu Tea Farm gives insight into the colonial history and economics of Kenya, as well as the process undergone to transform the leaves of a tea bush into one of the most well known beverages of all time. The tour includes a walk through indigenous forests rich with medicinal trees, as well as a delicious colonial luncheon on the lawn.
River Rafting Rapids Camp
River Tana is the perfect place for white river rafting, with rapids ranging from grades three to five. It is also the only place in for white river rafting in Kenya. Upstream and downstream currents, including waterfalls, provide different technicalities that challenge beginners as well as more experienced rafters. Rafting River Tana is a worthy adrenaline rush!
Big Cat Monitoring
Incredible wildlife is one of Africa’s most appealing icons, and is desperately in need of protection through conservation and educational projects. Many conservation efforts give rise to amazing volunteering programs, such as the opportunity to research and monitor big cats. Taking part in this project gives students a chance to deeply experience and engage with some of Africa’s most powerful and breathtaking wildlife.
Brackenhurst Botanic Gardens
Brackenhurst Botanic Gardens is a vibrant gateway into the world of pre-colonial climate diversity. Rising out of misty, rolling hills of emerald-green tea, these gardens stand as a testament to the power of environmental restoration and protection. The project began in the year 2000 and includes an arboretum of rare tree species that are critically endangered across the continent.