Delphine Slotten, 2015, Woodrow Wilson School

My internship work was part of a greater study to determine how two different livestock grazing regimes – traditional and “holistic” – affect the health of livestock; the quantity, quality, and diversity of vegetation; and the presence of wildlife in the West Gate Community Conservancy (WGCC) of Samburu County, Kenya. Some pastoralists in West Gate have adopted “holistic management” practices – namely rotational grazing. However, few quantitative assessments have been conducted to determine the impact of these practices on cattle health, vegetation, and wildlife. Thus, with the principle goal of obtaining quantitative data for analysis, I measured the body conditions, movement, and distance travelled, bite/step rates, and parasite loads of representative samples of distinct cattle populations in WGCC. Because we were in West Gate during the dry season and no notable differences in the effects of the two grazing regimes, if any were observed at all, would be observable until the rainy season, my research partner and I also trained two community members to monitor the project and to continue collecting data after our departure. An unparalleled opportunity and an incredibly rewarding experience, this internship has reinforced my desire to work in the fields of development and natural resource management.