Course Description

420.630 - Tropical Ecology and Conservation of African Wildlife

This is an immersive study abroad field course in Cameroon, Africa with a strong focus in tropical ecology field methods for the purpose of conserving African wildlife. The Congo Basin is the second largest tropical rainforest in the world, storing an estimated 25-30 million tons of carbon stocks, and home to nearly 20% of Earth’s species. There is a critical need to better understand the Congo Basin’s rainforests because we cannot conserve what we do not understand. The field component of this course takes place at the Dja Nature Reserve in southeast Cameroon at a remote research station operated by the Congo Basin Institute. The Dja rainforest is a diverse and understudied ecosystem. This course will cover basic field methods including but not limited to biodiversity assessments, species population estimates, setting up and checking large mammal camera traps, auditory surveys of primate vocalizations, mist netting for tropical birds, and other field techniques. Couse content will focus on problems such as ecological impacts of biodiversity loss, drivers of wildlife poaching, conservation strategies and best practices. Students will be introduced to local leaders in conservation, members of the community from the ecosystems we’ll be working in, as well as indigenous residents from the Baka tribal group. This course will also explore the broader social, political, economic, and climate change impacts to wildlife conservation efforts in Africa. Prerequisite: AS.420.611 – Principles and Methods of Ecology.