- Senior Projects 1
Animal Conservation in Kenya and Rwanda
Describe the objective of your project. What inspired you to pursue this idea?
I wanted to do something with conservation and animals. I was given the opportunity to travel to Kenya and Rwanda with a group of people in the conservation department at the Houston Zoo. While we were there, we observed predatory cats in the Masai Mara. Then, we traveled to Rwanda and spent about a week trekking through the Virunga Mountains and rainforest to observe eleven families of Mountain Gorillas (an endangered species—Rwanda and the Congo are their last two remaining habitats).
What have been some of the highlights along the way?
The most memorable moment of my project by far was on the first day that we went trekking up the mountain and finally got to the first gorilla family. We spent about three hours hiking through the jungle, which was so thick that we had to cut back branches. By the time we finally got to the gorillas we were exhausted, but the gorillas were so sweet and playful that it was definitely worth it.
What challenges have you faced in completing your project?
I think the hardest part of the project was time zone adjustment and stomaching the history of the Rwanda Genocide and the conflict that still exists in the Congo today.
What have you learned by completing this project?
1. Mountain Gorillas are extremely endangered and only have two habitats remaining in Eastern Africa.
2. Taking care of the human population comes before conservation (once the human population is cared for, it makes conservation much easier).
3. Rwanda has recovered incredibly quickly and well from the Genocide, so now they are trying to encourage tourism to bring in money.
Might this be the beginning of a new passion for you?Please explain.
I think it has made me care even more about conservation, especially the gorillas. I also think that I will return to Rwanda and the Congo (when it is safer) so that I can continue to help those communities. I'm not sure if I'll pursue a profession in wildlife conservation, but I think I'll always try to have a part in it.
What advice would you give to next year's seniors when the time comes for them to embark on their own projects?
Nothing is too crazy — if you think you'll enjoy it, do it.