After a fun but intense week, the Ecology module draws to an end with the student project presentations. In this session the students were honoured by the presence of a surprise guest – Dr. Richard Leakey.
Everyone did a fantastic job. Here are some of the amazing things we learnt about:
From the Doum Palm group we learned that a Doum nut has a hight nutritional value and it is consumed in large quantities by the adults of the local community, especially during the dry season. We also learnt that, based on the energy provided by one Doum nut, and the number of female Doum palm trees in the area surrounding TBI, the gasifier (fed by Doum nuts) is a viable alternative to the diesel generator as a means to power TBI during the night-time. This means that in the near future TBI will be able to generate it’s own power using only solar energy and biofuel. Pretty exciting!
From the Vectors group we learnt that mosquito larvae thrive best in low density watery environments, with plenty of algae and tasty bacteria; although in habitats with higher larval density it is common for the larvae to resort to cannibalism as a survival strategy, especially when food resources are low. We also learnt that great part of the local community is not aware of the existence of counterfeit malaria drugs and don’t typically use mosquito nets as preventative measures, even when these have been provided. This, the students concluded, is something that needs to be addressed through more malaria awareness sessions in the community and the production of nets that are longer-lasting and better designed for the Turkana environment. There will be more student science and research coming up soon!
And so we come to the end of Ecology, the first module of the Field School. Now that they have learnt so much about the subject, the students are really excited about the modules to come. Next up: Geology!