Serengeti Field Diaries

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June 23, 2015
Getting the Band Back Together

I have arrived. Helloooo again, Tanzania! Let’s get ready to rock some dog vaccinations!

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February 15, 2011
Nangale Vaccination Day

The road to Nangale village was filled with people walking their dogs, tugging uncertain puppies along on palm fiber leashes. If this were the bike path along Lake Shore Drive, this wouldn’t be so surprising. However, I was in Tanzania studying free-ranging domestic dogs that typically don’t get daily walks—they receive plenty of exercise herding, guarding livestock and protecting their households.

January 25, 2011
Mvua Atakuja (Rain is Coming)

I was in Nangale village at the start of rainy season, continuing to mark dogs for my dog demography study and there, was a sense of urgency in the air. “Mvua atakuja,” said Mayenga, the Nangale village chairman, as he surveyed the horizon. It was a clear cloudless day, and I had just stumbled upon an interesting spider as we were on our way to another household in search of dogs.

December 2, 2010
Aungurumapo Simba, Mcheza Nani?

or, "When the Lion Roars, Who Will Dare to Play (or Pack)?"

So the plan was to spend the day packing and gearing up for the next set of villages where we’ll be conducting our research, but we ran into this pride of lions enjoying their freshly obtained dinner. We couldn’t help but observe them for almost an hour, especially since we will be away for quite some time during the next leg of my research.

November 16, 2010
Bye Bye Buyubi!

“Nashukuru sana sana!” Thank you very, very much! It was my last day in Buyubi village, and we were sharing some farewell Fantas and Coca Colas at the local restaurant. I toasted my Fanta to John Kingu, the Buyubi Village Executive Officer, for not only permitting me to conduct research in Buyubi but also for all the assistance he and the other village leaders provided during our domestic dog demography research here.

October 6, 2010
Dog Demo-What?

What exactly is dog demography? Why am I traipsing through rural villages in Tanzania micro-chipping and tattooing poor unsuspecting dogs? I sometimes find myself asking this very question, especially on a really long, hot, 90-degree, dusty, uncooperative doggie day.

I am studying domestic dogs in Tanzania to determine the effect of vaccination programs on dog demography. Since 2003, dogs have been vaccinated for rabies and distemper in villages surrounding Serengeti National Park.

September 28, 2010
Doggie Diaries

“So here I was, sleeping off a busy night guarding my household’s goats from a band of cackling hyenas, when all of sudden there are six people surrounding me and strapping some funny thing called a muzzle to my face! Now they’re combing through my hair and looking into my ears and oh no….what? They want to collect poop!?! And tattoo me?? Yikes! What is going on? Who is this crazy lady comparing doggie lives between vaccinated and unvaccinated dogs.

September 23, 2010
Sit…Stay…Please?

“Simba! Simba!” a villager calls for his dog. Simba appears from some faraway field and begins to trot over. Simba spots the muzzle and leash, stops dead in his tracks and takes off in a cloud of dust. So, these dogs are not exactly trained or used to human contact, for that matter.

We have been marking dogs in Buyubi village for more than a week now for our study on the demography of domestic dogs.

September 15, 2010
Making our Mark in Buyubi

B001, or Awilo, as he is called by his owners, was the first dog marked for the domestic dog demography study, my research to understand the impact of the Serengeti Health Initiative’s vaccination campaign on the domestic dog population. Today was our first official day of dog marking, and we were able to mark 12 dogs!

September 10, 2010
Greetings from Buyubi Village, Maswa District

Yesterday Chunde and I made the six-hour trip to Maswa town, where I begin my domestic dog demography research. These dogs are currently not vaccinated for rabies or distemper, and it will be interesting to compare their population dynamics (basically their mortality and birth rates) to vaccinated dogs over the next four years.

I will be working in two villages near here, Buyubi and Iyogelo. The first village, Buyubi, is made up of about 500 households total and a “downtown” area spanning about one city block.

September 9, 2010
Inspiring New Students

Today was a really amazing day. Chunde Bigambo, who will be working with me studying domestic dogs, and I had an opportunity to speak to some first-year wildlife management students from the University of Dar es Salaam about the Serengeti Health Initiative.

Chunde, who was recently in Chicago for a Lincoln Park Zoo–Wildlife Without Borders training program, gave an amazing presentation about ecosystem health and what the Serengeti Health Initiative is doing to preserve this World Heritage site.

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