Serengeti Field Diaries

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December 17, 2013
Serengeti Food Fight

The food fights that took place at the family dinner table or school lunchroom may stir up some nostalgic childhood memories as we recall someone wearing a face full of mashed peas. However, the food fights of Serengeti tend to be a lot more intense, particularly since the food in question can mean the difference between life and death.

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October 2, 2009
Author Alexander McCall Smith Visits Serengeti

Alexander McCall Smith, author of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, visited the Serengeti in June to showcase his support for rabies vaccination efforts managed by Lincoln Park Zoo.

McCall Smith and his wife were hosted by Sarah Cleaveland, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Glasgow, Lincoln Park Zoo collaborator and director of the Alliance for Rabies Control.

September 28, 2009
Lincoln Park Zoo Supports World Rabies Day

Today marks the third annual World Rabies Day. This event, organized by the Alliance for Rabies Control, is aimed at raising awareness about the impact of rabies on people and animals as well as the importance of vaccination programs to prevent the disease.

As part of our Serengeti Health Initiative, Lincoln Park Zoo is leading efforts to vaccinate domestic dogs in Tanzania’s Serengeti region, preventing the spread of the disease among dogs, people and wildlife.

September 24, 2009
Vaccination Day!

Yesterday was the day I’ve been looking forward to since I arrived in Serengeti. Yesterday I got to participate in one of integral parts of the project as we vaccinated dogs and cats in Ngarawani village for rabies, protecting not only domestic animals but also wildlife and humans from this deadly disease.

As we neared Ngarawani, I noticed some people walking their dogs, a sight you don’t typically see in Serengeti district. As we pulled up to the site, there were at least twenty people already waiting patiently with their pets.

September 22, 2009
Taking to the Field

I’m pretty sure I had (hopefully the past tense) fleas and/or an assortment of “dudus” (Swahili for insect) at some point last week. While in Mugumu with Katie, I was able to visit another village, Ngarawani, to conduct some household questionnaires. Many dogs and cats here have fleas and ticks, and many of them are also malnourished and thin. These dogs eke out a precarious existence between humans and wildlife, part pet, part livestock, part sentinel and part scavenger.

Though life may at first appear somewhat bleak for domestic dogs, there are those who are truly loved.

June 17, 2009
Studying Swahili and Sobering Moments

Mambo? Poa poa!

I would like to think my Swahili skills are progressing nicely. In reality, when I’m about to express a carefully rehearsed, meticulously devised, silently-practiced-in-my-head sentence of at least four words (yes I am now up to four words in a row, thank you very much), I end up spewing something totally incomprehensible: part Polish, Spanish and English with perhaps a hint of Swahili (if I’m lucky) that is probably rather offensive. Oops!

Luckily, however, most Tanzanians are appreciative of my efforts and chuckle while attempting to correct me.

June 15, 2009
Data Dumps and a Dog’s Life

Habari! So yesterday was the halfway point of my trip. Time is flying by—I am learning a lot, experiencing more, meeting tons of people and trying to absorb the wild beauty all around me.

Yet it’s not all romantic safaris and roaring lions here (the lions are actually quite lazy most of the time).

June 5, 2009
The Adventure Begins

My adventure begins in the bustling metropolis of Arusha. Here there are busy shops, street vendors, mangoes, bananas, school children in colored uniforms, dust, car exhaust, giant Coca-Cola bottle advertisements, taxis and daladalas (in which, amazingly you can fit 26 people, two babies and me and my backpack as well!). In the very center atop the clock tower, three giant plasmas feature wildlife scenery from Tanzania’s national parks.

I stocked up for the next few weeks by shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables in the big market.

May 29, 2009
A Great Day

We had a great day yesterday. Craig Packer, Ph.D., from the University of Minnesota wanted me to experience a lion immobilization so I knew what type of sampling was possible for our potential grant. (We should be hearing about our NSF grant on “Ecology of Aging Lions” in June.)

Ingela, Craig’s field technician, tried to find a lion for immobilization to fit into a radio collar, but unfortunately it was in a kopi (rock island in the middle of the plains) with other lions, making it impossible to get to. So, the immobilization was called off.

May 29, 2009
Surveying the Serengeti

A big group of us (Sarah Cleaveland, Ph.D., from the University of Glasgow, Andy Dobson, Ph.D., from Princeton University, zoo Endocrinologist Rachel Santymire, Ph.D., Lincoln Park Zoo Disease Ecologist and Serengeti Health Initiative Project Manager Tiziana Lembo and zoo associate Felix Lankester) have just returned from a two-day trip to Loliondo Game Control Area. This is the Masaai pastoralist area just northeast of Serengeti National Park. It is a gorgeous, rugged and remote area with a long history of interaction between wildlife, domestic animals and people in a space managed for all.

May 29, 2009
Planning on the Plains

Zoo research collaborators Titziana Lembo and Felix Lankester met up with us in Arusha, and we had dinner with Laura and Charles Foley, our partners on the Tarangire Elephant Project.

It was nice to meet up with everyone. We had one day in Arusha and then drove on to the Serengeti. It was an incredible drive thru the Ngorongoro crater. At one point we stopped and looked into the crater.

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