Tag Archives: Princeton University

The Great Zebra Count at Nairobi National Park



The Kenya Wildlife Service, The Kenya Wildlife Festival and WildlifeDirect invite you to participate in the ‘GREAT ZEBRA COUNT’- the first of its kind citizen science project at the Nairobi National Park, on 1st and 2nd March 2015.

This year, Kenya will participate in the global World Wildlife Day celebrations by hosting a national celebration of her unique wildlife heritage through a week long national Wildlife Festival from 28th February to 7th March.

The GREAT ZEBRA COUNT is one of the festival’s activities. 

This citizen science initiative will allow the public to estimate the population sizes of zebras and giraffes within the Nairobi National park.  It involves the collection of photographs of Zebras and Giraffes taken by participating teams, which will be analysed using a new software, IBEIS, which identifies individual animals by their unique stripes and patterns.


The software will determine the number of zebra’s and giraffe in the Nairobi National Park, identify specific animals and where they are found. The IBEIS software was developed by 4 American universities. For more information, visit IBEIS.ORG


You are invited to form a team, identify a vehicle to use for the team, get your cameras ready and register your team here: http://www.standupshoutoutworld.org/#zebra-count


After registration, you will be provided with an information pack detailing how the census shall be conducted. The Great Zebra count is done in collaboration with Friends of Nairobi National Park (FONNaP) with the support of Nairobi Tented Camp.


The Wildlife Festival is an opportunity to share the country’s vision and encourage citizens’ participation in a future where people and wildlife coexist in harmony. The festival also presents an opportunity for the public to participate in contributing to important conservation science for the Kenya Wildlife Service.


The KWS Park Entry Fees will apply.  For further information contact [email protected]


Your participation in this activity will be highly appreciated.


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My life is not my own, it is my children’s

My name is Kathleen Morriss and I am a 3rd year university student at Princeton University. I’m spending 3 months studying ecology and evolutionary biology in Kenya.

“My life is not my own, it is my children’s – everything is for them.” This heartfelt statement from Teresia was the pervading theme throughout our conversation in the warm sun outside her boma as we discussed her feelings towards wildlife and Kenya Wildlife Service. Over the past week our class of 13 Princeton University students has been trying to understand how the Maasai people who live along the border of Nairobi National Park view the wildlife that the Park is increasingly struggling to preserve.


One of our teachers, Dino Martins, translating questions and answers during our discussion with Teresia.

On our first day of interviews we met Nixon, a participant in the Land Lease Program – a conservation initiative that pays US$4 per acre per year to land owners who agree not to fence the land they commit to the program. As Nixon described it, wildlife can be problem, but he understands the value of them and greatly appreciated the Land Lease Program because it provides money for education. He strongly believes education is key to future success, an attitude perfectly characterized by his brown t-shirt featuring the slogan “I <3 Wildlife.”


Nixon’s pro-wildlife shirt.

Like Nixon, Teresia is a strong advocate of education, especially for her children. Unlike Nixon, Teresia does not view the wildlife and government programs in a positive light. Teresia is not part of the Land Lease Program and her answers to our queries brought stories of long nights burning cow dung around the boma to discourage lion attacks and long delays associated with government programs. Teresia repeatedly told us how she and the other members of her women’s group struggle to pay school fees and feed their children while lions kill calves and zebras eat the grass she is carefully conserving for the high quality cow she hopes to purchase.


Burned cow dung piles around the calf boma.

Teresia told us that she understands that wildlife is an important part of the landscape and beneficial for Kenya as a whole, but that she only experiences the costs. She does not want anything for herself, she only wants education and a better life for her children. As of now, wildlife only hinders that goal by destroying her attempts at agriculture or killing her calves.

What struck me most about these two people, both of whom were open and welcoming to our group, was the contrast in attitudes that a simple compensation program produced. The wildlife cause similar problems for both Maasai, but for Nixon they also bring regular cash payments that pay his brothers’ school fees or buy food in times of drought. For Teresia the wildlife are a source of grief and expense – an obstacle to her efforts to better her children’s lives. After our discussions with Nixon and Teresia I am thoroughly convinced that successful conservation programs need to focus on bringing benefits to those suffering from the costs of preserving wildlife. The Land Lease Program’s success comes from its ability to provide economic benefit for a commodity (wildlife) that was previously viewed only as a nuisance.

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This land is my land

Hi, My name is Erin, I’m a 3rd year student from Princeton. This is my first time to come to Africa and I’m interested in wildlife conservation. This blog is about the similarities and differences between my home town of Rosalia and Kitengela in Kenya.







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Princeton University Students in the wild

Its that time of the year when WildlifeDirect goes back to school – we have just spent ten days running a field course for Princeton undergraduates as part of their semester in Kenya. What have they been doing? Well, the 13 students will tell you about it through their own blogs which will appear right here on Baraza, as well as on Nairobi Park blog

Here are some photos to illustrate what we’ve been up to.


Students interviewing members of the local community in Olerai Conservancy with David Paramisia who was instrumental in setting up this far sighted approach to saving wildlife in the dispersal area from Nairobi National Park.

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John Solonka and Evelyn who work for The Wildlife Foundation talk to Princeton student Patty


Rangers in Olerai Conservancy – a new wildlife sanctuary. These rangers were trained by the Kenya Wildlife Service

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Most of the men were hundreds of kilometers away with the livestock so we interviewed mostly women. The women had unique perspectives on the future of wildlife in their areas.

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Kohei made friends with the local kids

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Interviewing Masai women was followed by song at this homestead.


Dino Martins of Dudu diaries assisted with the course and drew attention to the bugs in the ecosystem. A KWS ranger named Jacob accompanied us to ensure we were safe.

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Gettings stuck – nearly every day. To reach the National Park dispersal area we had to cross the Mbagathi (Empakasi) river.


Olerai conservancy allows pastoralists to graze herds of sheep and cattle in a controlled manner to ensure that wildlife can coexist with the livestock


Children in the villages were just as interested in us as we were in them

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Molly meets a baby elephant on our one day off

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Patty on the suspension bridge


Adjani measuring grass recovery after the drought in a livestock exclosure

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Morgan and Hillary assess grass condition outside the park which was rather overgrazed

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Erin and others cross the suspension bridge in Kitengela to cross a dangerous gorge to continue our vegetation sampling.


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Princeton University studying with Wildlifedirect

After ten days at Mpala Ranch the  exhausted students were handed over to me to leave the sanctuary of Mpala Ranch and visit other parts of Kenya on an undergraduate ecology field course in Kenya.  There will be a number of posts from me (Paula) and the students (Sarah, Josephine and Sam). For now here are some images to whet your appetite.

I arrived in the afternoon and never expected to see anything as exciting as this!

Jackal at Mpala Ranch

A black backed jackal tearing a hare to pieces … poor bunny.

Princeton students at Mpala Ranch

Sarah, Josephine and Sam with their other advisor and friend.

We left via back roads to get to the Great Rift Valley in order to start our course in Baringo – we were entirely alone on these dusty ranch roads until we met this vehicle enroute to the livestock market at Rumuruti

Overloaded bus in Kenya

No one could complain about the squeeze in my car after seeing this. Inside and atop this vehicle were lots of people (too many people) and their sheep and goats! Overloaded – not in Africa where there’s always room for one more! (actually it’s illegal to ferry people like this in Kenya and is very rare to see nowadays – but there are no police on these back tracks).

Sheep going to market on a bike

Everyone was going to market, even this sheep in it’s sheep-mobile (we saw a child being carried the same way) – the trek for these herders was more than 10 km one way.

The roads are so windy up and down the Rift Valley escarpment that as you descend the Laikipia escarpment you cross the equator several times.

Princeton students at the equator

More photos and full stories are coming on local bee keeping innovations, grassland restoration, amazing fish eagles and other birds, and the incredible lake people.

But, before I go, any idea what this is and what it’s for? Clue – it’s 2 feet tall and electrified!!