Courtesy of USC Digital Library, International Mission Photography Archive: http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15799coll123/id/30950/rec/36
I've been sifting through photo archives looking for images of West Kilimanjaro over the last couple of weeks. I haven't come up with any useful images for my thesis, however I've found many other fascinating images of Deutsch Ostafrika, including this one taken by German Missionary Theodor Tietzen in 1936 of the regional capital of Mbeya. Anyone who has visited Mbeya will recognize Mbeya Peak in the distance of this photo.
Lunch at White Rocks in Serengeti

Today marks our last day in Serengeti as we head back east through the Crater Highlands to Karatu. Everyone is well and has enjoyed seeing multiple leopards, lions, and servals as well as a cheetah hunt and some great elephant sightings! Stuck in the mud only once and hyenas in camp last night. Great memories and lots of fun!






We've completed the first week at Ndarakwai Ranch and are now heading out Lake Natron and Loliondo, some incredibly spectacular areas, but ones with very limited development and connectivity. Likely no cell service for the next 2-5 days, so no news is good news! We'll be back in touch once we get back into cell service.


"This much is crystal-clear: our bigger-and-better is now like a hypochondriac, so obsessed with its own economic health as to have lost the capacity to be healthy."

-Aldo Leopold

Forward to A Sand County Almanac


Quick update that all the students arrived safely and we're heading out to Ndarakwai now for a bite to eat and some much needed rest!





For anyone who has started to follow this blog because your student is getting ready to travel to Tanzania with Penn State: welcome! My name is Paul Shaffner and from looking around this site, you can learn a fair amount about me. I work for the College of Science at Penn State and am co-instructing this course. I've been in Tanzania since Tuesday getting things ready for your students to arrive. I've printed up the course packets with the readings that they will be doing, gotten a research permit lined up, and purchased various odds and ends that will come in handy over the next couple of weeks.

Yesterday I drove from Arusha (the regional capital) out into the "bush" as we call it here - about a 2 hour drive from Arusha. I arrived just in time to enjoy a delicious BBQ with the crew of a show on the Discovery Channel (I'm not supposed to say which one) who just completed filming an episode of the show here. They left last night and camp is now quiet and waiting for the students to arrive. I woke up to vervet monkeys dropping figs on my tent this morning and had a visit with a local Maasai family who lives near the camp and whom the students will visit.

I look forward to getting to know each of your students over the next few weeks and sharing some of this amazing place with them. I'll try to update at least every other day or so when the students arrive, even if it's just a short anecdote or a photo or two.
One week from today will find me on my way back to Tanzania and continuing preparations for this year's BIOL498A Biology of Eco-Health course. There are supplies to be purchased, arrangements to be finalized, and interviews to be arranged. 

I will try to post periodic updates here every couple of days at the very least to keep you abreast of our latest activities and adventures.

Can hardly wait to meet this year's cohort at Kilimanjaro International as they disembark on May 21. 

Safari njema wote! (Safe travels, all!)
Probably one of the few animals who could do this and live to tell about it.
If Geography Is Prose, Maps Are Iconography (Lennart Meri)
After months and months of not making progress on my graduate degree, I successfully defended my thesis research proposal in November, in spite of having yet to learn some of the methods that I'm hoping to rely on to assess land cover and vegetative change in my focus area.

I've been taking a course about how to apply raster analysis in ArcMap to examine social and ecological landscapes. After months of churning away, I finally figured out how to generate an NDVI image from Landsat imagery - significance here being that NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) is one of the methods that I'm hoping to use to quantify biomass change over time. Here's my first shot at it:

Definitely a very rough first shot. Notice that I failed to remember to include a legend to inform you what you're looking at (basically, the lighter the color, the higher the biomass - the massive white areas are forests on the slopes of Mounts Meru and Kilimanjaro. The ranch that I'm focusing on is outlined in green (again, forgot to explain that). Also, I didn't mask for clouds, meaning the darker dots in the northeast corner of the ranch are actually cloud shadows...ooh, and I also forgot to include that the map is oriented traditionally with North being up.

Lots more of these in my future for sure, so I figured I had to enshrine my first attempt so that I can be embarrassed about its crudity later!