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Summer: Rutgers- Primatology Field School
Endowed with stunning ecological richness and biodiversity, Kenya offers a premiere classroom for an up close encounter with a broad range of native wildlife. Students will discover and conduct research in environments ranging from the mangroves on the Indian Ocean, to the dry savannas of the Laikipia plateau, to the riverine forest along the Tana River. With its diversity of habitats, Kenya boasts a particularly wide range of wild species. While the country leads other African nations in species and habitat protection, the future of its wildlife is still in the balance. More work needs to be done toward understanding the behavioral biology of Kenya’s wild species in order to ensure their survival.
The curriculum will comprise lectures, readings, and discussions on important concepts in primatology and conservation biology. Important notions in primate behavioral ecology will be reviewed, and students will learn about primate behavior and ecological data collection.
The core of the field school will be the training and practice of field methods, and in-depth analysis of previous field studies. Participants will learn how to census primates, study social behavior and habitat use, practice animal identification, conduct time budget analyses via scan and focal animal sampling, and measure habitat use.
In order to expose the participants to methods used to study primates found in different habitat types, the field school will be conducted in various ecologically different sites. Past field school highlights have included:
Mugie Ranch: At this extensive privately owned game ranch, students will explore the Laikipia grassland environment; learn to identify flora and fauna; debate conservation and anti-poaching efforts; conduct studies to assess the carrying capacity for the animal populations in relationship to the available vegetation. The ranch hosts a whole range of savanna animals living within the borders of the ranch, including two prides of radio-collared lions, which we will follow during day and night safaris.
Mt. Kenya: The Lakipia Plateau located in the central highlands of Kenya is one of the most scenic regions in Kenya. At the William Holden Foundation and Education Center, students will learn about a project on protecting and rehabilitating the Bongo – one of the most beautiful and rare species of antelope. At the Mt. Kenya Animal Orphanage students will see how primates, ungulates and other savanna animals are being rehabilitated to wild environments.
Twala: Students will have the extraordinary opportunity to see the wild baboons made famous by the long-term research of Dr. Shirley Strum. The site affords excellent conditions to observe wild baboons.
Kibwezi Ground Water Forest Reserve: This is a unique Acacia woodland ecosystem in the middle of a markedly arid region. The gallery forest and closed woodland are supported by a high water table (rather than rain), with a system of water holes and rivers.
Gede/Mida Creek: On the way to Tana, we will visit the fascinating ruins of Gede, and learn about the groups of blue monkeys that inhabit them, studied by Dr. Wahungu and colleagues. Furthermore, in the nearby Mida Creek we will see one of the most remarkable mangrove forests in the world, with trees over 20m tall. Conservation efforts, sustainability, and human-wildlife issues are explored.
Tana River Primate National Reserve: This is the only reserve in the world dedicated solely to the conservation of primates. There are eight non-human primate species in the reserve: the Tana River red colobus, Tana River mangabey, Sykes’ monkey, yellow baboon, vervet monkey, and three bushbaby species. Both the red colobus and mangabey are endemic to the area and have been ranked among the world's top 25 most endangered primate species. This is where students will conduct their own research projects.
Mombasa coast: This is where students finalize their projects and prepare and take the final exam. We will also visit the Colobus Trust, engaged in mitigating the impact of urban expansion on the local population of black and white colobus.
To view the program’s 2014 syllabus, please click here. Please note this is a sample syllabus, all of its content is subject to change.
For information about Study Abroad credit transfer, registration, and transcripts please visit the Academics section of our website.
Arrival: July 31st
Departure: August 26th
*All dates are subject to change. Do not book your flight until you have been accepted and the academic dates have been confirmed.
Accommodations and Meals
Hotel accommodation will be provided for students in Nairobi on the first and last night of the program. You will live in your tents for most of your time in Kenya. At all field sites, you will have access to simple toilets and showers. The sun rises every day at 6:30 a.m. You will be in the field by 7:30 a.m.
Most of the food served in the program consists of canned vegetables and meats, pasta, rice, and bread, integrated with the fresh vegetables available in the different areas we will travel through. Fast foods, sweets, soft drinks, are not readily available, so stave off those cravings, or bring a supply of candy or other kinds of snacks. Vegetarians will find that there is plenty to eat during regular meals, but any special dietary needs should be brought to the attention of the Rutgers Study Abroad office early on in the application process.
Please keep in mind: you will be living in a populated region of a developing country. Although Americans generally find Kenya easier to live in than most other developing countries, you will undoubtedly be inconvenienced. In the U.S. we assume that as the sun rises every day, so will water flow through the pipes when we turn on the faucet. This is not the case in Kenya. Be prepared to laugh off delays and inconveniences, or rustic conditions when we would most like to be pampered. Access to electricity is spotty at best. The program mantra is: Patience and Flexibility.
Program Cost: 2014 Summer
For more information about the Program Cost and additional Non-Billable Expenses please download and review the Kenya Primatology Expenses Worksheet.
For more information about Finances, including information about Financial Aid and Tuition Remission please visit the Finances section of our website.
As part of your preparation to apply for this study abroad program, please familiarize yourself with the Rutgers Study Abroad withdrawal policy.
Students are also encouraged to start researching Scholarship opportunities as early as possible. You may find the following scholarships applicable to this program.
Center for Global Education Global Reach Scholarship- Available to all Rutgers students participating in a Center for Global Education program during the fall/spring/academic year/summer. Applications will be released to students after their acceptance.
Please also visit the Scholarships section of our website for additional information about Rutgers and National Scholarships.