On Monday we had a traveling lecture in the morning and later in the day went to Lake Manyara National Park. It was so lush and green compared to the other parks we've been to. We've been on so many game drives (aka safaris) that they almost seem like ordinary events and animals like zebras, elephants, and giraffes have become so common (I feel so lucky to even be saying that). The next day we went back to Lake Manyara National Park and had a wildlife ecology assignment to do there where we observed baboons behavior every five minutes for two hours. It was really fun to watch and record their behavior. We saw so many baby baboons and they are SO adorable!! On Wednesday we went to Ngorongoro Crater which is a main tourist attraction in Tanzania and is filled with wildlife. We drove down a mountain into the crater and it was so pretty, mountains surrounded it and the vegetation was really green. In the crater there were SO many wildebeest, along with hippos, zebras, hartebeest, warthogs (and baby warthogs which are possibly the cutest lil' babies i've ever seen), hyenas, and around 5 lions. I also saw two black rhinos for the first time! They were kinda far away, but it was really cool to see them, especially since rhinos are fairly rare. Now I have officially seen the 'Big 5' animals of Africa which include the elephant, rhino, leopard, lion, and cape buffalo. For lunch we stopped by a hippo pond and ate outside. While eating there there where these hawks circling around us and one flew right by my head trying to get my food. A few students even got scratched by the hawks. Afterwards we drove around and continued looking at all the wildlife in the crater.
Today (Thursday) we found out the directed research (DR) topics and I'm so excited that the Environmental Policy (EP) topic is really interesting. The DR topics switch every five years, so we are continuing the research from past DR topics. The EP DR is all about the role tourism plays for communities to participate in wildlife conservation in the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem and in what ways tourism enhances or negatively effects communities and wildlife conservation. I'm so excited to start DR and get the chance to interview community members and hear their perspectives on the wildlife, tourism, and conservation of the area. After the DR topic introductions we had a surprise traveling lecture which we didn't know about. We loaded into the jeeps and visited a school that was working to grow trees and plants. The rest of the day was spent packing for expedition to the Serengeti!! I'm so excited, i've heard so much about the Serengeti from books and television, I can't wait to actually go there. We will be camping for four nights, which I'm not particularly looking forward to, but we get to go on a lot of game drives and apparently lions commonly walk through the campsite we are at (how cool is that!) We are also making a stop at Olduvai Gorge tomorrow! In my archeology classes back at school I've heard so much about Olduvai and the fossils of early hominids found there, I'm so excited to actually see it for myself. Any who, it's getting late and I have to wake up at 5:30am to leave for the Serengeti bright and early tomorrow.
Lala salama (goodnight),