Tomorrow morning we are packing up and departing Ndarakwai, where the students have been busy for the past 6 days. We intentionally front-load the course with a lot content as we try to rapidly introduce Tanzanian history and culture while also covering some of the basic concepts of dry savanna ecology and field methods.
Yesterday students designed mini-animal behavior research projects and spent most of the day observing (and following around) groups of impala and baboons. Today was focused on vegetation plots, which are a way to assess species distribution and diversity and a fundamental building block of many ecological studies. After practicing at camp, they set off guided by GPS units to measure the vegetation on and off the ranch here.
Tomorrow we are off to Arusha for a few days and will be changing camp locations every night or two for the rest of our time in Tanzania. Students will likely have access to wifi for the next day or two, but will then likely
be out of touch for the next week and a half or so. I will try to post periodic updates here and will be adding photos to Instagram (@paulshaffner), but as I've mentioned before, no news is good news!
While sitting with the 8th grade language arts class in the library at school today, I picked up the National Geographic Expeditions Atlas and happened to flip it open to the photo above, which shows a French expedition crossing the Ruaha River in 1925, not far from where we used to live. This struck me for a few reasons:
To contextualize this photo, the 1924 Citroën Central African Expedition crossed the African continent from north to south as a publicity stunt to demonstrate the robust nature of the automaker's vehicles. In 1924, eight halftracks custom-built on Citroën B2 frames set out southward from Algeria across the Sahara. In Kampala the expedition split into four sub-groups. One carried on to Nairobi and the Kenya coast, while the other three headed south across Lake Victoria into Tanganyika (Tanzania). In Tabora, Tanganyika these three parted ways: one heading east to Dar es Salaam, one south through Iringa to Nyasaland (Malawi) and Mozambique, and one west into Congo, and then south through the Rhodesias. All four groups eventually met up at Cape Town in 1925, making this the first longitudinal motorized transect of Africa.
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