© 2018 by Ryan Valdez.  All rights reserved

KENYA STUDY ABROAD 2020​

I founded the Kenya program in 2010, and have since remained active.  This is a winter break (in between semesters) course offered through George Mason University's Center for Global Education.  Credits are applied to the spring semester.  It is open to students and non-students!

 

Check out photos and student blogs from prior years:  

 


Official Website: https://masonabroad.gmu.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=10175


TITLE:       KENYA Wildlife & Conservation
DATES:     January 4 - 18, 2020 ( 2 weeks )
CREDIT:    George Mason University (3 credits, 4 departments to choose from)
GROUP:    Average - 10 students, 2 faculty, 2 drivers

This class covers a lot of ground in a short period of time.  This is the class you want to take if you desire an incredible safari experience while visiting various ecosystems.  

By traveling to national parks and private conservancies, it is designed as an overview to experience and study the diversity of large herbivores and predators and to provide insight to the current conservation challenges facing such large vertebrates.  Academically, this course will require individual presentations, course readings, exams, and significant science writing.  There will be long distance driving and at each destination we utilize open-roof safari Land Cruisers.  There are limited opportunities for hiking.  We make every effort to interact with wildlife conservation professionals at each of our destinations.  Shopping, cultural activities, and urban travel are part of the course, but kept to a minimum in order to maximize our wildlife safari experience.  The course is open to all universities as well as interested travelers.

Common course destinations:

Sheldricke Wildlife Trust, The Giraffe Manor, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Mpala Research Centre, Soysambu Conservancy, Lake Naivasha, Lake Nakuru National Park, Maasai Mara National Game Reserve, and various destinations and activities in Nairobi.

 

Videos:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISSERTATION RESEARCH

PARTNER INSTITUTIONS:

 

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI)
George Mason University (GMU) Environmental Science and Policy (ESP)

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS)

FIELD SITE

 

Laikipia County, Kenya.  Based at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy


The large mammals of East Africa are a functionally diverse component of tropical savanna ecosystems and vital drivers of tourism and, thus, landscape conservation. Laikipia County, Kenya, known for harboring high African mammal diversity and an impressive density of a flagship species, the black rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli), is a complex mosaic of public and privately owned lands.  

 

In this study, I took advantage of a unique opportunity to measure anthropogenic impacts on wildlife among four contiguous, independently managed Laikipia ranches, including one proposed as a future national park.  Georeferenced habitat identification was combined with vegetation surveys on all ranches with the majority of the landscape classified as Acacia (39%), followed by grassland (25%), mixed Acacia-Eucela forest (21%), Euclea (12%), and riverine (3%).  

Sampling of wildlife was conducted through simultaneous camera trapping, resulting in over 150,000 image captures of 49 species. Occupancy modeling was used to test hypotheses of anthropogenic impacts (fencing, roads, areas of human activity, and artificial waterpoints) on the diversity and distribution of large mammals.  


Functional guilds were correlated to habitat classification, with grazers and browsers dominating the landscape.  Species richness was correlated to size of ranch, but showed no correlations to habitat type or to proximity to artificial waterpoints as was hypothesized.  Modeling showed a positive correlation of richness to natural rivers, fencing, and areas of human activity.  These unique data across multiple privately owned properties provide an updated and holistic perspective of landscape dynamics in Laikipia.  To facilitate data visualization and to promote new technological resources for land managers, a GIS was used to combine habitat classification, anthropogenic structures, and camera trapping records into an accessible, on-line interactive mapping application.

Ph.D. COMMITTEE: 
    
Dr. Larry Rockwood
Dr. Lee Talbot
Dr. Rebecca Forkner
Dr. David Luther
 

LINKS: 
  
http://olpejetaconservancy.org              The Ol Pejeta Conservancy 
http://awf.org                                             The African Wildlife Foundation
http://www.mpala.org                              Mpala Research Centre
http://www.laikipia.org/                           Laikipia Wildlife Forum

http://www.lewa.org                                 LEWA Wildlife conservancy

http://www.museums.or.ke/                   National Museums of Kenya

http://www.kws.org/                                Kenya Wildlife Service
http://nrt                                                      Northern Rangelands Trust
http://www.actionforcheetahs.org         Action for Cheetahs Kenya
 

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