Tanzania-Zanzibar: Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management

Educational Excursions

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Educational excursions give students an unparalleled opportunity to examine directly the consequences of ecotourism on coastal forests and ecosystems. Excursions are carefully chosen and integrated into the overall coursework.

Many of the excursions on the program take students directly into the water to explore marine habitats and coastal ecology. Through snorkeling, students gain a far better appreciation of what is occurring in the Indian Ocean by examining it firsthand under the guidance of local experts. Students begin to recognize what healthy coral looks like in comparison to unhealthy coral, and what types of marine life live in sea grass and the intertidal zone. Biodiversity surveys using transects and quadrats allow for practice with methodology, which some students can then use for their Independent Study Project. These hands-on learning experiences help students appreciate the interconnectedness of coastal ecology and a healthy biotic system.

SIT students at the Zanzibar Butterfly Centre

Additional excursions may include: 

  • The Zanzibar Butterfly Centre. The center was established to provide extra income earning opportunities for the local community while promoting conservation and sustainable use of resources. Zanzibaris farm butterflies at the center for both the onsite enclosure and international export. Opportunities for student study projects include how women farmers integrate their business and family life, how Zanzibari farmers manage time constraints with butterfly production, biodiversity of butterflies in the area, management and marketing plans, and environmental education for local children.
  • The Pemba Essential Oils Distillery. Local farmers and schools are involved in the production of clove oil as a cottage industry, using the leaves rather than the more expensive buds of the clove tree. Until recently the leaves were considered waste, but now are being distilled for their oil content, and then recycled into the furnaces for the distillation process. Opportunities for student studies include chemical assay and analysis of oils produced in the distillery itself compared to the field stills (clove oil and lemon grass oil), assessment of management and efficiency of the field stills, and current socioeconomic status as compared to a study done in 2007 to see where improvements need to be made.
  • The Kidike Flying Fox Sanctuary. A local community on Pemba Island has turned this fruit-bat roosting site into an ecotourism destination featuring guided tours, a lookout tower, and a visit to the ruins of a fourteenth-century Arab-Swahili town. SIT students on their Independent Study Projects have assisted the village committee in developing and promoting ecotourism and conservation of this endangered species. There are opportunities for future studies focusing on marketing, management, training of guides, and biology and behavior of the bats, to provide baseline data for the management of increasing numbers of visitors to the colony.
  • Chumbe Island Coral Park. A privately owned marine sanctuary on an island off the southeast coast of Zanzibar, Chumbe Island Coral Park is home to the rare coconut crab and a stunning coral reef. During a one-day excursion, students are introduced to low-impact tourism and environmental education. The park also hosts Zanzibari school groups for special educational field trips, providing the first exposure ever to coral reefs and marine resources for some of these students. Opportunities for student studies include monitoring the coconut crab (population dynamics and distribution), as it is currently listed as 'data deficient' with the IUCN.
  • Mikumi National Park. A visit to this national park is a chance to see some of Tanzania's famous wildlife in their natural environment, and learn more about mammals, birds, and reptiles and their habitats.

Excursions give students hands-on, experiential learning opportunities to further illuminate thematic coursework and other classroom learning.

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Stone Town, Zanzibar

Language Study: Kiswahili

Prerequisites: Coursework in environmental studies, ecology, or biology; swimming or snorkeling ability recommended. Read more...


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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