Rutgers - Science Summer Abroad 2010
Nine Science Undergraduate Students Around the World

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ride an Ostrich?: Post by Kai

Today will be one of my last blogs, as my program in Kenya is coming to an end. We have returned from lake Nakuru, and are essentially finishing up analyzing data from the transect counts done there, finishing assignments due, and preparing for our final exams. The weather the past few days has been sunny and beautiful, so it has been hard to concentrate. Today was somewhat spectacular because a staff member went into Nairobi and brought back pizza (which seems more precious than gold when you are deprived of it for a month).
Our data analysis done over the past two days was from Lake Nakuru was based on the transect counts performed there. We counted the population numbers of mammals found, and the habitats in which they were counted. Upon arrival back at camp we analyzed the data using SPSS and a chi squared contingency test to analyze animal distribution. What we found was that most of the mammals counted were almost always found in their preferred habitat type. Although this sounds far from groundbreaking as far as results go, it actually has positive implications for the management of the park because there have been significant worries in recent years that habitat changes are forcing animals to feed in areas that are not prime for them. What our study appears to show is that mammal numbers in the park are healthy, and that they are able to distribute themselves throughout the habitats in the park according to their natural preferences, without interspecies competition coming about as a result of human caused habitat changes.
Our last non-program day event will be this Saturday, and we will be visiting an ostrich farm in the town of Kitengela. We are told that we will have an opportunity to both ride an ostrich and eat an ostrich burger. This sounds pretty exciting, but we still need to discuss as a group whether we feel the trip is morally justified. From what we have heard, the owners of the farm interbreed their ostriches and at times they experience some unpleasant genetic defects. This raises some red flags for me and some others, so we are going to try and get some more information before making a decision.
Until next time, here are a few more photos from Nakuru.

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