Dehydration, heat exhaustion, sunburn, and other heat-related illnesses can occur, but you can protect yourself by drinking sufficient water, wearing high-SPF sunscreen, taking breaks in the shade before you are distressed, and wearing appropriate clothing and hats. Dehydration from sweating can be a problem; please bring your own water bottles that you can easily carry and refill with water and/or electrolyte-replacing packets.
Teams may encounter several road hazards, including large trucks, potholes, livestock and wildlife, rain/mud, dust, and/or poorly maintained tarmac or dirt/gravel (corrugated) roads. Only qualified drivers will transport volunteers in project vehicles. You must wear your seatbelt and always stay seated when vehicles are in motion. Volunteers are not permitted to drive.
The terrain of the Tsavo ecosystem is mostly flat and undulating with acacia and Commiphora trees, various types of grasses, dirt and rock, with uneven areas. There are sometimes fields or paths on the farmland.
Behavior on agricultural land
Wear modest clothing, including long pants, appropriate footwear(hiking boots with ankle support) and good socks, while conducting research on farmland. You will walk and work in only designated areas after receiving permission to do so. Avoid stepping on crops, and maintain awareness of your surroundings at all times. Your team will be instructed on appropriate behavior within the ranches. It is advised to always ask permission before taking photographs, and enter areas that are prescribed research areas only. Do not enter any private land or buildings that are not part of the research activities. Converse with each other at normal volumes, and only shout or make loud noises when you must signal danger or are in an emergency situation. At all times you should respect that you are someone’s property and a visitor to their lands, country, and culture.
Wildlife: large mammals
Once in the field, you will be briefed on the necessary precautions associated with living and working in the midst of a wilderness area, particularly when walking in the open bush. You will receive a practical demonstration of bush ethics and safety during the safety briefing at the start of the expedition. Abide by the “go” and “no go” areas and never go anywhere alone. Remain alert while in the field and follow all instructions related to field communication, following distance, the use of hand-held radios, and responding to wildlife in close proximity. You must heed staff instructions and adhere to project rules and protocols at all times. The major large mammal threats will be in the form of elephants, buffaloes and big cats.
Kenya is home to many snake species, including both venomous and non-venomous snakes. The majority are non-venomous, but the main poisonous species of concern are black and green mambas, spitting cobras (brown,
black-necked, and red spitting cobras; forest, Egyptian cobra), and puff adders, and boomslang. You should watch where you walk; avoid reaching into the grass without seeing where your hand is being placed; check dark, moist, cool areas; be careful unfolding materials or equipment that has been stored and always heed staff instructions. Wear appropriate closed toed footwear in the field at all times.
Stinging and biting insects, such as ticks, bees, scorpions and mosquitoes are present in the region. Insect-borne diseases, such as chloroquine resistant malaria, dengue fever, African tick fever, Rift Valley fever, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis (river blindness), African sleeping sickness, and yellow fever are also present. Speak with your physician about malarial prophylaxis prior to fielding. If you have allergies to insect bites, bring appropriate medications (e.g. antihistamines, or at least two Epi-Pens if your allergy is severe). Take precautions to avoid bites/ stings by wearing appropriate clothing (long sleeves and long pants), and using mosquito nets and insect repellant. There are bee hives at the research sites, so if you have a bee allergy, then you must bring Epi-Pens.
There is security at the Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary project site, but avoid areas designated as off limits by project field staff. In Nairobi, as in many large cities, robbery and violent crime are serious issues. It is wise to take sensible precautions: travel through the city in pairs or groups, avoid displays of money or valuables, take official taxis (your hotel can usually help you book transportation), and avoid traveling alone, especially when going out at night. Terrorism is also an ongoing threat in Kenya; bomb attacks have occurred in Nairobi and the Mombasa region in 2013, 2015, and 2019. Exercise caution and always be vigilant especially in major cities, and avoid travel near border regions with Somalia, South Sudan, and Ethiopia.
Diseases found in Kenya are hepatitis, rabies, HIV/AIDS, polio, tuberculosis, meningitis, measles, cholera, plague, typhoid, malaria, dengue fever, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, African tick bite fever, trypanosomiasis, schistosomiasis, and tuberculosis. Traveler’s diarrhea also affects many international travelers. You can decrease your risk of many diseases by avoiding mosquito bites, practicing good hygiene, and drinking only potable, bottled or filtered water when appropriate. Please see the CDC (cdc.gov) or WHO (who.int) websites for more information on these conditions and how to avoid them or consult with a travel doctor. If you feel ill once you return from your trip, make sure you inform your doctor that you have recently returned from a tropical region.