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Ecology and Conservation in Kenya

Study AbroadStudy Abroad Kenya

Overview

The Ecology & Conservation program is split evenly between Brackenhurst, an eco-campus in Limuru, Kenya, and the Maasai Mara ecosystem. It provides an understanding 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 to 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.

Program Dates

2020: 5 July – 1 August

Pre-requisites

  • A background in environmental science, conservation biology, agro-ecology, horticulture, development studies, wildlife studies, or related subjects is ideal (entering 200 level and up).
  • 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.

Locations

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 plants 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 students 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.

Learning Outcomes

During this course, students will:

  • Contextualize their knowledge of historical and current threats to tropical wetlands, forest, and African savannah ecosystems
  • Demonstrate an understanding of key terms, theories and concepts related to East African wetlands, forest and savannah ecologies
  • Hone professional skills by demonstrating the use of appropriate evaluative techniques in wetland plant and animal investigation
  • Develop cross-cultural understanding through studying the impact of culture and context on conservation in East Africa
  • Demonstrate critical insight into community-based conservation, incentivizing conservation, and restoring damaged ecosystems

Key Study Topics

  • Forestry and agroforestry
  • Ecological restoration and monitoring techniques
  • Indigenous vegetation and biodiversity
  • Ethnobotany, traditional knowledge systems and their uses for 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

Academic Credit

We will help by supplying you with all the necessary documentation and supporting information you will need to apply for credit through your home university or college.

“It was great to be immersed in such rich culture whilst sharing the experience with a range of international students with a range of different perspectives on the world. Kenya is a beautiful country with wonderful people offering an all-around enriching experience.”

Oli Barnes, Participating Student

Coordinator

Lincoln Njiru

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.

Lecturers

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

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 additional expenses as necessary.

Total cost: $4850

Inclusions:

  • Lecturers and lecture facilities
  • All field trip excursions
  • Conservation fees
  • Course-related stationery and some texts
  • All accommodation during the 4-week program
  • All meals for the entire program period
  • All transport related directly to the program

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.

What Previous Participants Say

Student Blog Post: My Study Abroad in Kenya experience

Student Reflection Essay: A Student Journey of Transformation

Apply Now

Application deadline: 31 April 2020

Apply here: Ecology & Conservation Program Student Application


Featured Experiences

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. 


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