Tanzania

Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology

Explore the balance between ecological concerns and socioeconomic objectives in the vast wilderness expanses of northern Tanzania.

At a Glance

Credits

16

Prerequisites

Relevant previous coursework

Language of Study

Kiswahili

Courses taught in

English

Dates

Jan 22 ‎– May 5

Program Countries

Tanzania

Program Base

Arusha

Critical Global Issue of Study

Development & Inequality

Development & Inequality Icon

Climate & Environment

Climate & Environment Icon

Overview

Why Tanzania?

Tanzania is a beautiful and diverse country, home to the Serengeti Plains, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the Zanzibar archipelago. You’ll spend 30 nights camping in these wilderness areas to see the variety of Tanzania’s landscapes and wildlife, including lions, zebras, elephants, and ostriches. As you learn ecological field techniques and national park management, you’ll see how human development and population growth affect natural habitats and vice versa. You’ll learn to reframe notions of sustainability in relation to local population needs, perspectives, and values.

In addition to wildlife ecology, you will study Tanzanian history, politics, economics, and current events. You’ll learn how to integrate both social science and ecological field techniques through anthropological and field ecology projects.

The program has several major in-country partners: Sokoine University of Agriculture, the College of African Wildlife Management-Mweka, Klub Afriko Cultural Orientation Center, and the host communities. Many students have returned to work with these partners in future endeavors.

Highlights

  • Spend time at Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Parks. and Loliondo Game Controlled.
  • Speak with local communities to understand issues of deforestation, agriculture, gender, culture, and population growth.
  • Explore conservation through multiple lenses.
  • Network for your academic and professional careers.

Prerequisites

Previous college-level coursework and/or other significant preparation in environmental studies, ecology, biology, sociology, anthropology, international relations, or related fields, as assessed by SIT.

Excursions

Tarangire-Manyara Ecosystem

You will explore the fragmented ecosystem of two national parks, Lake Manyara and Tarangire. Tarangire National Park is famous for its many African elephants per square kilometer and baobab trees. Depending on the season, the 1,100-square-mile park is home to diverse wildlife species including threatened and endangered species such as ebony trees, African wild dogs, gerenuk, elephants, and more. Lake Manyara National Park is 240 square miles of arid land including underground water, forests, and a 163-square-mile lake that is nearly nonexistent in the dry season. Flamingos, hippopotami, leopards, blue monkeys, and gazelles are easily spotted here. The Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem gives an opportunity to examine the western conservation model of national parks and get insight into the ways various ethnic groups interact in their landscapes.

Serengeti-Ngorongoro Ecosystem

You will go on a 7-day safari through the 25,000-square-kilometer Serengeti-Ngorongoro ecosystem. Serengeti National Park is home to a large and diverse population of wildlife including the “big five”: lions, leopards, elephants, black rhinoceros, and African buffalo. You will also visit the Ngorongoro volcanic Crater, Enashiva Nature Reserve, and the Loliondo Game Controlled Area, where tourism has had a profound impact on the local Maasai. The Serengeti-Ngorongoro ecosystem also includes Oldupai Gorge, the most famous archaeological site in east Africa.

Northeastern Tanzania

Visit the privately owned, 11,000-acre Ndarakwai Ranch, which practices sustainable ecotourism, preserving seasonal elephant routes and a variety of habitats for more than 70 mammal species and 300 bird species. Near the Usambara Mountains, you will see the Mazumbai Forest Reserve, a pristine tropical forest.

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

Academics

Coursework

Access virtual library guide.

This program’s coursework explores the continuous balance between people and wildlife. It pushes you to look beyond environmental issues and be inclusive of the local population’s traditions, needs and values.

The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • Wildlife ecology
  • Conservation, environmental issues, and national park management
  • Life and culture, history, politics/economics, and current events
  • Relationships between socioeconomic objectives, ecological parameters, and cultural transitions from multi scale/actor perspectives

Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology Seminar

Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology Seminar – syllabus
(ENVI3000 / 4 credits)

An interdisciplinary course conducted in English, with required readings, examining the relationships between socioeconomic objectives, ecological parameters, and cultural transitions from multi scale/actor perspectives in various Tanzanian landscapes. Lecturers are drawn from institutions such as the Sokoine University of Agriculture, the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, and various nongovernmental organizations.

Kiswahili

Beginning Kiswahili – syllabus
(SWAH1004-1504 / 4 credits)

Intermediate Kiswahili – syllabus
(SWAH2004-2504 / 4 credits)

Emphasis on speaking and comprehension skills through classroom and field instruction. Based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing, students are placed in intensive classes, with further language practice during homestays, lectures, and excursions.

Environmental Research Methods and Ethics

Environmental Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ENVI3500 / 4 credits)

A course in environmental research methods and ethics concerning both the social and natural sciences. The focus is on learning how to collect, analyze, integrate, and report social and ecological data to critically understand and evaluate program-related environmental issues. Topics include an introduction to the Independent Study Project; environmental field study ethics; and the World Learning/SIT Human Subjects Review Policy. Specific qualitative field study methods include designing research projects; writing a research proposal; interviewing; surveys; participatory rural appraisal techniques; maintaining a field study journal; and data set analysis. Specific ecological field study methods include micro- and macrohabitat analysis; wildlife population sampling and analysis; fauna and flora identification; animal behavior; geographic information systems; and statistical analysis of data sets.

Independent Study Project

Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits)

Conducted in Arusha, Moshi, or surrounding areas or, with program approval, in other parts of Tanzania. Sample topic areas: impact of tourism on local cultures or the natural environment; perspectives on management options in designated wildlife areas; environmental education; soil conservation in Mayo Village; body modifications among Maasai at Ngare Sero; behavior of Colobus guereza in selected forests; canopy and habitat use in sympatric primate species; modernized farming methods in Mgwashi; Arusha youths’ views on population and the environment; vegetation analysis of elephant damage at Ndarakwai Ranch.

Sample topic areas:

  • Perspectives on human-wildlife conflict near conservation areas including wildlife corridors
  • Mweka College of Wildlife student perspectives on the new presidency
  • An analysis of facial expressions in olive baboons by habitat and group behavior
  • GPS mapping of elephant corridors in the Tarangire-Manyara landscape
  • Impact of tourism on the natural environment or cultures
  • Management options in designated wildlife areas
  • Environmental education
  • Soil conservation and agricultural practices
  • Youths’ views on population and environment
  • Wildlife-livestock disease interaction in the Kwakuchinja corridor
  • Behavior of primates, e.g., Colobus guereza and olive baboons at various forest locations
  • Wood use in various types of protected areas, including village forests
  • Bio-indicator studies, e.g., birds and butterflies at various locations
  • Perspectives on population and the environment
  • Vegetation analysis and elephant damage at Ndarakwai Ranch

Note: Because of restrictions on fieldwork in Tanzania, you should expect to spend all or most of the Independent Study Project outside the boundaries of Tanzania’s national parks. In addition, students are not able to study any topic that relates to any activity that is illegal in Tanzania. This includes poaching.

Browse this program’s Independent Study Projects / undergraduate research.

Homestays

Ngaramtoni

You will spend three weeks living with a family in the peri-urban community of Ngaramtoni. This village, about 10 kilometers from Arusha town, is high on the slopes of Mt. Meru. Accommodations here vary, from wattle-and-daub homes to those with electricity. Families range from two-parent professional households (such as veterinarians, teachers, and doctors) to those headed by single-parent subsistence farmers.

Other Accommodations

Hostels, private homes, small hotels, and more than 25 nights of camping

Career Paths

Students on this program represent many different colleges, universities, and majors. Many have gone on to do work that connects back to their experience abroad with SIT. Alumni of this program are working with:

  • Princeton in Africa in the Usambara Mountains

  • An environmental NGO in Zanzibar

  • Ethiopian National Parks Service at Simien National Park

  • School for Field Studies in Tanzania and Kenya

  • The Peace Corps in Gambia, Chad, and Kenya

Faculty & Staff

Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology

Felicity Kitchin, PhD
Academic Director
Oliver Nyakunga, PhD
Academic Director
Beatrice Kimaro
Kiswahili Language Coordinator
Mercy Felix Kamnde (Mama Juni)
Office Manager
Oscar Paschal Nyakunga
Academic Coordinator
Anthony Rapheal
Ornithology Expert
Francis Makari
Wildlife Expert
Simbamwene Ramadhani
Wildlife Expert

Discover the Possibilities

  • COST & SCHOLARSHIPS

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