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Elephants and Sustainable Agriculture in Kenya

Expedition Briefing


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Please read the following information before leaving for your expedition.

It provides the most accurate information available and will likely answer any questions you have about the project. You may also reach out to your Program Coordinator with any questions you may have.


COVID-19 Enhanced Health and Safety Measures

This project has been amended to incorporate several health and safety measures to allow for the responsible fielding of teams during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please refer to the COVID Disclosure Form for more details. 

  • Vaccination against COVID-19 is required for all participants. Staying up to date with your vaccinations, including receiving booster doses if available, is strongly encouraged. 
  • Become familiar with and abide by the local COVID requirements for up-to-date vaccinations, including boosters, mandatory quarantine, or other guidelines. 
  • Do not travel to your Earthwatch expedition or program if you: 
    • are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell)
    • are confirmed or suspected as having COVID-19 within the past ten days
    • have been in close contact with someone suspected or confirmed as having COVID-19 in the past 10 days 
  • You are encouraged to take a COVID-19 test one day before or the morning of your rendezvous before meeting your team.
  • Face masks will be required in line with local regulations and/or when instructed by project leadership. Face masks will be optional in areas or on projects where mask use is no longer required. Any individual who wishes to continue to mask will be supported in that decision. 
  • Participants and project staff will continue to wash or sanitize hands frequently and maintain physical distance whenever possible. 
  • All team members will be asked to monitor their health through daily health checks. 
  • Recreational activities may be limited or require additional face mask requirements to reduce the risk of exposure to team members or the local community.
  • Meals and activities will take place outside whenever possible. 
  • Ventilation will be increased indoors and within enclosed vehicles whenever possible

Note: Participants will travel from Nairobi to the project site by train. At the time of publication of this document, local law requires masking in public spaces—including public transportation. Regardless of local law, using N95, FFP2, or a similar high-quality mask is strongly recommended while riding the train to protect the team and the local community. 

The Research

The African elephant (Loxodanta africana), the largest land mammal on earth, is a majestic flagship species for conservation in Africa. It has a vital role as an “ecosystem engineer,” meaning it creates and maintains critical habitats for other species. The savannah elephant is a wide-ranging species, and individuals cover vast tracts of land in search of food, water, and mating partners. This inevitably puts elephants on a collision path with humans in competition for limited space and natural resources. Indeed, in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, elephants sometimes eat or damage farmers’ crops and property, resulting in human-elephant conflict or “HEC” (Hoare, 1999; Naughton et al., 1999; Osborn and Parker, 2003; Mackenzie and Ahabyona 2012). This situation is actively playing out in the Tsavo Conservation Area, southeast Kenya, which is why it was selected as the setting for testing the ideas presented in this Earthwatch project. The Tsavo Conservation Area is a vital wildlife corridor between Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks. The entire region is often called the Greater Tsavo Ecosystem, and the research takes place specifically in the Kasigau Wildlife Corridor (KWC).

By the year 2050, humans will need to increase agricultural production by 70 percent to meet the demands of a growing population (Godfray et al. 2010; Alexandratos and Bruinsma 2012). Climate change—manifested through extreme and often unpredictable weather events—threatens agriculture production in many parts of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa. Achieving this increase in production amid today’s rapidly changing climate is unlikely without transforming agricultural practices. In some parts of the world, scientists have begun to implement Climate-Smart Agriculture (or CSA), which involves reducing pesticide and herbicide use, planting new crops or crop varieties that are more resilient to a changing climate, intercropping, agroforestry, and improving soil, land, and water management systems. These methods not only help to protect farmers’ livelihoods, but they also promote biodiversity and have important associated conservation benefits.

In this project, an interdisciplinary approach is employed to help find a way in which wildlife conservation and rural farmer livelihoods can thrive in this dryland ecosystem in the face of growing human needs and a changing climate. In addition to promoting sustainable agriculture, this project will test the effect of various “repellents” on elephants in an effort to keep them away from farmers’ crop fields. Scientists have found that simple repellents such as chili peppers and beehives (which have the added benefit of producing a usable product such as honey) may help to deter elephants from entering crop fields (Parker and Osborn 2006; King et al. 2009). In the first year of our project, we found that chili fences alone were ineffective. However, they were effective when paired with our Kasaine (metal-strip) fence, named after one of the field leaders, Simon Kasaine, who designed the fence. Key components of a deterrent fence are that they are affordable, practical, and effective (APE). Over the past five years, our results suggest that the metal strip fence meets these requirements and is less impacted by climate change (e.g., bees may desert hives during dry periods, and chili pepper extracts may dry up and lose their potency). The goal remains to reduce crop raiding and ensure that humans and elephants coexist peacefully in this delicate ecosystem.

Research Aims

This multidisciplinary project aims to explore pragmatic means by which the harmonious coexistence of elephants and people can be achieved in the face of growing populations and a changing climate. The primary aim of the research is to design and test several techniques for reducing HEC, mainly through the use of deterrents and different agricultural techniques. The deterrents work with a variety of fence types was our focus in the first phase of our study, using controlled experiments to test the effectiveness of different deterrents and deterrent combinations, keeping the crops cultivated constant. The current phase of the study will trial Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) methods, initially methods to enhance soil water moisture—such as zai pits and intercropping, which are designed to simultaneously enhance biodiversity conservation and farm productivity in conjunction with our metal strip fences. Eventually, CSA will combine traditional and cutting-edge practices, including reducing pesticide or herbicide use, integrated pest management approaches, agroforestry, new crops, crop varieties and cropping systems, and soil, land, and water management systems. These practices are deemed vital for enhancing the resilience of farms to climate change shocks and increasing biodiversity across the landscapes—thereby delivering on multiple functions.

Ideally, wild habitat is maintained in a condition suitable to meet the needs of wildlife such that they do not need to compete with humans for crops and water. As part of our study, we assess the status of the wild lands that border our study site by measuring megafauna diversity and evaluating vegetative status. In this way, we can assess habitat quality and elephant habitat modification. Such measures may serve to facilitate the prediction of crop raiding by elephants and other wildlife. We also seek to determine if certain species may serve as indicator species of habitat quality and thus be correlated with crop raiding pressure. We plan to couple these ecological predictors with an early warning system for imminent elephant presence near crop fields that retains the components of APE. 

A major outcome of the project is establishing productive and sustainable farming systems that will have tangible biodiversity benefits, mainly through habitat creation and a reduction in conflicts. Ultimately, the project hopes to enhance the conservation of elephants and other wide-ranging species (especially large carnivores and herbivores) by reducing the pressure to convert the dryland forest on this critical wildlife corridor into farmland. Additionally, the project is a climate change mitigation and adaptation measure for these rural farmers who depend on rain-fed agriculture to support their livelihoods. Together, these objectives align with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) using conservation, sustainable management, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (the ‘+’ in REDD+). Given the prevalence of these dual problems—climate change and human-elephant conflicts—in Kenya and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the results from this study will also be shared with local, national, and international stakeholders so that they can inform broader agriculture and human-wildlife conflict policies and actions.

How You Will Help

As an Earthwatch volunteer, you will be mainly involved in three broad activities: wildlife surveys (within ranches), habitat monitoring (mostly within ranches), and farm-based activities.

  • For wildlife surveys, you will be largely undertaking road transects (e.g., counting large mammals and birds), conducting behavioral observations of elephants, and building an elephant identification database based on mug shots of as many elephants/elephant groups encountered as possible; thus, you will remain within ranches and on the vehicle most of the time.
  • For habitat monitoring, you will primarily measure the impact of elephants on natural vegetation. For vegetation monitoring, vehicles will bring your team close to an area where vegetation plots will be assessed for elephant damage to trees and shrubs. You will work in a group in that area, always near the vehicle, before driving to the next area. A Wildlife Works ranger and experienced field staff will always accompany you.
  • For the farm-based monitoring, again, the vehicle will bring you to the farm or the closest point possible. In this case, there is a fair amount of walking at and around the fields to inspect crops, set up and maintain deterrent fences, and check the camera traps. Some teams will take soil samples for analyses of organic matter content to help check whether Climate-Smart Agriculture does indeed help with carbon sequestration in the long term. Other CSA practices might also be performed, such as creating zai pits and/or intercrop planting. For this, you will be accompanied by local field staff and Kenyan members of the volunteer teams for easy communication and to avert misunderstandings.

Keeping in mind that field conditions and research needs can change from team to team, some of the key activities that may take place on volunteer teams include:

  • Biodiversity surveys
    • Road transects counting large mammals and birds
    • Building the elephant identification database and taking behavioral observations of specific elephant groups
  • Habitat surveys
    • Checking on trees within ranches for damage by elephants
    • Vegetation monitoring along transects radiating from waterholes
  • Farm-based activities
    • Taking various farm/crop-related measurements, including belt transects for animal signs and inspecting for crop/fence damage
    • Collecting and processing photographic records from camera traps
    • Soil sampling and other CSA-related activities, including soil and water management techniques
    • Helping to construct CSA techniques such as zai pits, potentially interacting with farmers to plant or monitor the growth of their crops.
    • Establishing ideation stations that demonstrate CSA techniques at villages, primary schools, and universities.

Life in the Field


Weather and research needs can lead to changes in the daily schedule. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding. 

We envision volunteers being involved in data collection in the field for about 6–8 hours per day inclusive of travel times, with another 1–2 hours possible for other activities in the camp, including training, training evaluation, preparation for field activities, deterrent preparation, data inspection, and data entry/cleaning. It is worth emphasizing that transit time to study locations will involve drives through the ranch with many opportunities for wildlife sightings. Additionally, there will be time for enjoying wildlife as part of the overall experience, time conversing with staff and local people, and the unavoidable time waiting for elephants!

  • 7:00–8:00 a.m.: Breakfast & Briefing
  • 8:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.: Fieldwork (including travel back to camp)
  • 1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m.: Lunch
  • 2:00–3:00 p.m.: Downtime
  • 3:00–4:30 p.m.: Data entry, Briefings, Lectures, Films, preparation of soil samples, etc.
  • 4:30–6:30 p.m.: Fieldwork (including travel back to camp)
  • 7:00–10:00 p.m.: Dinner, Discussions, Seminars, Review, Training, & Downtime

Accommodations and Food

* Please note that not every expedition has couples’ or singles' accommodations available. Please call or email Earthwatch to check availability before reserving your space(s) on the team.


Accommodation will be provided at Kivuli Camp. Kivuli Camp is located at the heart of the Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary, part of 13 other community-owned ranches under the Kasigau REDD+ carbon project. Volunteers will stay in dormitory-style rooms, with up to four people per room separated by gender. The thatched huts contain four wildwood twin bunk beds with bedding and mosquito netting provided; bedding is changed for you periodically. Participants are encouraged to use the bottom bunk in the dormitories whenever available, as top bunks are not equipped with rails. Depending on the number of participants and the gender makeup of teams, there may be occasions where participants may be required to utilize the top bunk. 

More private accommodation is available in “family bandas” depending on availability and at an additional cost. Family bandas” provide two separate bedrooms—one with a double bed, the other with two twin beds, and one shared bathroom between them. Private bandas are limited and are subject to advance booking. The additional cost for this upgrade is $30 per person per night and must be paid online before your arrival onsite. If you would like to take up and pay for a single room within the private bandas or if you are traveling as a group (a pair or triple etc.) and you would like to pay the extra cost to share accommodation within the family bandas, please reach out to your Earthwatch Program Coordinator and the Kivuli Camp Administrator at rukingaadmin@tsavoconservancy.com to confirm the upgrade to your accommodations. Rates are subject to change. Confirmation of private room requests is dependent on availability and handled on a first-come, first-served basis.

* Earthwatch will honor each person’s assertion of gender identity respectfully and without judgment. For both teen and adult teams, where logistics dictate single-sex accommodations or other facilities, participant placements will be made in accordance with the gender identity the participant specified on their Earthwatch Participant form and/or preferences indicated in discussions with Earthwatch.


There are communal flushing toilets and showers when using the Dormitory Bandas (separate for ladies and gents), and except for exceptionally overcast days, hot water is available. We advocate water conservation, so keep showers short and turn the water off while soaping and scrubbing.


There is no regular electricity at Kivuli Camp. Power is through a combination of generators and solar. You should leave electrical equipment that requires a lot of energy (like hair dryers) at home to help conserve energy or only use them when the generator is on. The generator is typically on briefly in the morning for about two hours and about four hours in the evening. Electrical sockets (outlets) in Kenya usually supply 220- and 240-volts AC. The standard frequency is 50 Hz. The power sockets are of “Type G” or British BS-1363 type. If the plug to your appliance doesn’t match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter to plug in. Travel plugs adapters change the shape of the plug to your appliance to match whatever type of socket you need to plug into. They are NOT converters. If your country's standard voltage is 100V-127V (as in the US, Canada, and most South American countries), you may need a power (voltage) converter. To be sure, check the label on the appliance. If it states ‘INPUT: 100–240V, 50/60 Hz’, it can be used in all countries, e.g., chargers for tablets/laptops, photo cameras, cell phones, and toothbrushes. Each room has solar chargers with two USB ports that are useful for charging small items like phones.


The Camp has some phone connectivity, but it can be sporadic. There is Internet access at Kivuli Camp (using Vsat technology), but it can also be patchy, and when multiple people are using it simultaneously, it can be very slow. However, a more reliable Internet is available at the Wildlife Works Main Office (using Fiber Optic technology). Should camp Internet fail entirely (unlikely), volunteers can arrange emails sent out by the Field Team to inform or reassure friends and family at home of your safe arrival and continued status during the session. Heavy streaming or large downloads can slow the Internet and quickly soak up allocated bandwidth; therefore, such use is not permitted as Wildlife Works’ employees also use the Internet for work. The time in camp is also a great time to “unplug” and catch up on your reading, socialize, discuss the project, go through the guidebooks, learn bird songs, play a game, and other ‘unwired’ activities! We advocate maintaining your relaxation and stretching routines to stay mentally and physically nimble under conditions that likely differ from the ones at home!

Please note: Personal communication with outsiders is not always possible during an expedition. Earthwatch encourages volunteers to minimize outgoing calls and immerse themselves in the experience; likewise, family and friends should restrict calls to urgent messages only.


For both the activities within the ranch and on farms, the typical distance any team will have to travel from the camp is about 20 km, although sometimes longer journeys are necessary. Travel times will depend on the wildlife encountered along the way and the terrain; average speeds in this terrain rarely reach 40 km/hr (25 mi/hr).


There are dedicated cooks and service providers at Kivuli Camp. The volunteers might be asked to assist in basic activities such as clearing the table and tidying up. When doing community work or wildlife research in areas that render it difficult to return for lunch, snacks and lunch bags will be prepared for the volunteers, and lunch will be eaten in the field. 

It is generally not recommended to eat at very local restaurants without advice from the local field staff or Kenyan volunteers. You can, however, eat out in Voi during your recreational time, and the field staff will be more than happy to guide you about the best places to go.


The following are examples of foods you may find in the field. Variety depends on availability. We appreciate your flexibility.

  • Breakfast: Tea, Coffee, Milk, Hot chocolate, Bread (with jam and butter), Cereals, Eggs, Sausages, Pancakes, and Assorted fruits
  • Lunches and Dinners: Rice, pasta, potatoes, chapati, ugali (a thick porridge-like polenta made from maize flour), meat (beef, mutton, chicken, goat, and occasional fish), lentils, beans, peas, cowpeas, cabbage, kale, spinach, french beans, carrots, capsicum/peppers, tomatoes, onions, in-season including mango, oranges, avocado, bananas, passion fruit, watermelon
  • Beverages: For drinking, there are several dispensers around the camp dispensing treated water bought from licensed and certified companies in Kenya

Please alert Earthwatch to any special dietary requirements (e.g., diabetes, lactose intolerance, nut or other food allergies, vegetarian or vegan diets) as soon as possible, and note them in the space on your volunteer forms.  

The camp can accommodate special diets, such as vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free, if informed in advance (though no gluten-free bread or pasta, vegan cheese, or vegan “meat substitutes” like tempeh are available).

Project Conditions

The following information is as accurate as possible, but please remember that conditions may change.

The physical demands of the work could be described as 3–7 on a scale of 10, being higher for on-farm-related activities.

The work will consist of long days (early mornings and late evenings), working in the hot sun, driving around bumpy terrain, walking up and down farms, constructing deterrent fences, measuring vegetation conditions, preparing zai pits, and collecting soil samples. None of this should be too much for a modestly fit individual with the proper preparation and care in the field (e.g., rehydration, sunscreen, clothing, shade breaks, and footwear).


Please visit Wunderground.com and search for your project location for weather and region-specific information.

Essential Eligibility Requirements

All participants must be able to:

  • Get up into and down out of a four-wheel-drive vehicle, minibus, or car and ride seated with seatbelt fastened
  • Ride, seated, for extended periods (up to three hours a day) in a four-wheel-drive vehicle in tight quarters. Much of the research will be conducted from the project vehicles.
  • Carry personal daily supplies such as water, cameras, binoculars, and other small field equipment
  • Hike up to one kilometer per day over uneven terrain while carrying about 5-10kg of equipment
  • Collect data (images, samples, etc.) and search for animal signs (scat, tracks) on the ground while moving over uneven terrain and steering clear of obstacles such as animal holes and sharp branches
  • Get low enough to the ground for extended periods to measure plants, collect samples, and access camera traps.
  • Be alert and ready to take evasive action (running quickly, returning to the project vehicle, lying flat on the ground, depending on the situation) if the guard/ranger advises it (e.g. if dangerous wildlife is nearby).
  • Enjoy being outdoors all day in all types of weather, including rain, heat, and humidity, in the potential presence of insects, snakes, and other wild animals
  • Follow verbal and/or visual instructions independently or with the assistance of a companion
  • Take an active role in your safety by recognizing and avoiding hazards if and when they arise (including, but not limited to, those described in Earthwatch materials and safety briefings). Always comply with project staff instructions and recommended safety measures.
  • Be able to effectively communicate to the staff if you are experiencing distress or need assistance.
  • Be able to get along with a variety of people from different backgrounds and ages, often in close proximity, for the duration of your team.
  • Be comfortable being surrounded by a language and/or culture that is not your own.

Health and Safety


Earthwatch has a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week emergency hotline number. Someone is always on call to respond to messages that come into our live answering service.


Please be sure your routine immunizations are up to date (for example, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella) and that you have the appropriate vaccinations for your travel destination. Medical decisions are the responsibility of each volunteer and their doctor. Visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization for guidance on immunizations.

If traveling from countries or regions where yellow fever is endemic, you must have a certificate of vaccination.

Vaccination against COVID-19 is required for all participants. Staying up to date with your vaccinations, including receiving booster doses as applicable, is strongly encouraged. 

Project Risks and Precautions


Dehydration, heat exhaustion, sunburn, and other heat-related illnesses can occur. Still, 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 water bottles you can easily carry and refill with water and/or electrolyte-replacement 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 stay seated when vehicles are in motion. Volunteers are not permitted to drive.


The terrain of the Tsavo ecosystem is primarily 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.


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 only in designated areas after receiving permission. Avoid stepping on crops, and always maintain awareness of your surroundings. Your team will be instructed on appropriate behavior within the ranches. It is advised to always ask permission before taking photographs and enter prescribed research areas only. Do not enter any private land or buildings 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. You should always respect that you are someone’s property and a visitor to their lands, country, and culture.



Once in the field, you will be briefed on the necessary precautions for living and working in 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, using hand-held radios, and responding to wildlife in close proximity. Stay within the electric fence as much as possible at your residence, and always be alert. You must heed staff instructions and always adhere to project rules and protocols. The major large mammal threats will be in the form of elephants, buffaloes, and big cats.


Kenya has many snake species, including 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. Always wear appropriate closed-toed footwear in the field. Always use flashlights to illuminate your path at night. 


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 before 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 beehives at the research sites, so if you have a bee allergy, you must bring Epi-Pens. Check your clothes and shoes for insects (especially scorpions) before wearing them. 


Security is at the Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary project site, but avoid areas designated as off-limits by project field staff. Robbery and violent crime are serious issues in Nairobi, as in many large cities. 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 at night. Terrorism is also an ongoing threat in Kenya; bomb attacks occurred in Nairobi and the Mombasa region in 2013, 2015, and 2019. Exercise caution, always be vigilant, especially in major cities, and avoid traveling near border regions with Somalia, South Sudan, and Ethiopia.


Diseases found in Kenya include hepatitis, rabies, HIV/AIDS, polio, tuberculosis, meningitis, measles, cholera, plague, chikungunya, typhoid, malaria, dengue fever, lymphatic filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, African tick bite fever, 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 a travel doctor. If you feel ill once you return from your trip, inform your doctor that you have recently returned from a tropical region.


COVID-19 is an infectious coronavirus disease that has caused a worldwide pandemic since its discovery in late 2019. Although most people with COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness, COVID-19 can also cause severe illness and even death. Some groups, including older adults and people with certain underlying medical conditions, are at increased risk of severe illness. The COVID-19 virus spreads from person to person via close contact, primarily through exposure to the respiratory droplets of an infected person. 

Projects and participants approved to field during the COVID-19 pandemic commit to several enhanced safety measures described in the COVID Disclosure Form, including physical distancing, wearing face masks when required by local guidelines or requested by team leadership, regular hand washing, and daily health checks. 

Travel Planning


Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, Kenya

* Additional information will be provided by Earthwatch to meet your team. Please do not book travel arrangements such as flights until you have received additional information from Earthwatch.


Earthwatch strongly recommends that travelers investigate their destination before departure. Familiarity with the destination’s entry/exit requirements, visas, local laws, and customs can ensure smooth travel. The U.S. Department of State's Traveler’s Checklist and Destination Guides are helpful resources. For LGBTI travelers, the U.S. Department of State's LGBTI Travelers page contains many useful tips and links.


You are responsible for reviewing and abiding by your destination's local COVID guidelines and regulations. This may include proof of testing upon arrival or departure, up-to-date vaccinations against COVID-19, including boosters, mandatory quarantine, or other requirements. 

For information regarding Kenya, please visit COVID 19 INFORMATION—U.S. Embassy in Kenya (usembassy.gov).

Entry visa requirements differ by country of origin, layover, and destination and do change unexpectedly. For this reason, please confirm your visa requirements at the time of booking and again several weeks before travel. Refunds will not be made for volunteers canceling due to not obtaining their visa in time to meet the team at the rendezvous. You can find up-to-date visa requirements at the following website: www.travisa.com. If a visa is required, participants should apply for a TOURIST visa.  

Note: At the time of publication of this document, travelers to Kenya for purposes of tourism must apply online for an eVisa. Adopting an electronic visa system has greatly expedited the visa process. Still, we strongly advise completing your application well in advance—considering that the single-entry visa application may be opened up to 90 days before travel. Once issued, your eVisa will be valid for travel within 90 days. Please confirm with your local embassy for up-to-date requirements as you plan your travel, as these can change quickly.

Generally, passports must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry, and a return ticket is required.


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  • Von Hagen RL, Kasaine S, Githiru M, Amakobe B, Multiway UN, Schulte BA. 2021. Metal strip fences for preventing African elephant (Loxodonta africana) crop foraging in the Kasigau Wildlife Corridor, Kenya. African Journal of Ecology, 59, 293-298.
  • Von Hagen L, LaDue CA, Schulte BA. 2023. Elephant scar prevalence in the Kasigau Wildlife Corridor, Kenya: Echoes of Human-Elephant Conflict. Animals, 13, 605. https:// doi.org/10.3390/ani13040605.
  • Von Hagen RL, Norris P, Schulte BA. 2020. Quantifying capsaicinoids from chili pepper and motor oil mixtures used in elephant deterrent fences. Chromatographia, 83, 1153-1157. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10337-020-03934-8.
  • Wittemyer G, Northrup JM, Blanc J, Douglas-Hamilton I, Omondi P, Burnham KP. 2014. Illegal killing for ivory drives global decline in African elephants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 111, 13117-13121.
  • Adams JS, McShane TO. 1997. The Myth of Wild Africa: Conservation without Illusion. University of California Press, Calif.
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2013. Climate Smart Agriculture Sourcebook.
  • Hume D, Murphree M (eds). 2001. African Wildlife & Livelihoods: The Promise and Performance of Community Conservation. Heinemann Press.
  • Kangwana K. 1996. Study Elephants. African Wildlife Foundation Technical Handbook Series No. 7. African Wildlife Foundation.
  • Mawere M. 2013. Environmental Conservation through Ubuntu and Other Emerging Perspectives. Langaa RPCIG, Cameroon.
  • Moss CJ, Croze H, Lee PC. 2011. The Amboseli Elephant: A Long-Term Perspective on a Long-lived Mammal. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA.
  • Nyasimi M, Amwata D, Hove L, Kinyangi J, Wamukoya G. 2014. https://ccafs.cgiar.org/publications/evidence-impact-climate-smart-agriculture-africa-0#.Wxjmgam-miK. The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).
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Note: The two Wilson books are similar.

  • Birnie A, Noad T. The Trees of Kenya: An Illustrated Field Guide. Zand Graphics, Kenya.
  • Dharani N. 2006. Field Guide to Acacias of East Africa. Struik Publishers.
  • Dharani N. 2011. Field Guide to Common Trees & Shrubs of East Africa. Struik Publishers.
  • Estes, R. 1991. The Behavior Guide to African Mammals. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Note: Excellent for large mammal behavior.
  • Lonely Planet Swahili Phrasebook, 5th edition. 2014. Lonely Planet.
  • Sprawls S, Howell K, Drewes Rc. 2006. Reptiles and amphibians of East Africa. Princeton University Press.
  • Stevenson T, Fanshawe J. 2002. Field guide to the Birds of East Africa. Princeton University Press.
  • Withers MB, Hosking D. 2002. Wildlife of East Africa. Princeton University Press.
  • Zimmerman DA. 1999. Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania. Princeton University Press.
  • Alexandratos N, Bruinsma J. 2012. World agriculture towards 2030/2050: the 2012 revision. ESA Working paper No. 12-03. Rome, FAO.
  • Godfray HCJ, Beddington JR, Crute IR, Haddad L, Lawrence D, Muir JF, Pretty J, Robinson S, Thomas SM, Toulmin C. 2010. Food security: the challenge of feeding 9 billion people. Science 327:812-818.
  • Hoare RE. 1999. A standard data collection and analysis protocol for human-elephant conflict situations in Africa. IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group, Nairobi, Kenya.
  • King LE, Lawrence A, Douglas-Hamilton I, Vollrath F. 2009. Beehive fence deters crop-raiding elephants. African Journal of Ecology 47:131-137.
  • Mackenzie CA, Ahabyona P. 2012. Elephants in the garden: financial and social costs of crop raiding. Ecological Economics 75:72-82.
  • Naughton L, Rose R, Treves A. 1999. The social dimensions of human-elephant conflict in Africa: a literature review and case studies from Uganda and Cameroon. A Report to the African Elephant Specialist, Human-Elephant Task Force, of IUCN, Switzerland. Call number LAEBRA 1999/108
  • Osborn FV, Parker GE. 2003. Towards an integrated approach for reducing the conflict between elephants and people: a review of current research. Oryx 37:1-5.
  • Parker GE, Osborn FV. 2006. Investigating the potential for chilli Capsicum spp. to reduce human-wildlife conflict in Zimbabwe. Oryx 40:343-346.



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