|The veterinary study tour group stops at a farm being assisted by the Heifer International program. From left, Mark Brunson, Andrea Olson, the farmers, Dr. Rose McMurphy, Allison Ten and Laura Keller.|
|Elephants roam at the Ngorongoro Crater.|
This past May, Dr. Rose McMurphy, section head in anesthesiology in the Clinical Sciences department, took a small group of veterinary students to Tanzania as part of the International Veterinary Study Tour elective. The goals of the elective were to gain an understanding of the challenges of raising livestock in a developing country, to identify the predominant zoonotic diseases and their impact on a community, to discuss the impact, both positive and negative, of ecotourism and to recognize problems associated with wildlife conservation in a country with limited financial resources. The elective course involved both didactic instruction before the trip and a 10 day tour of northern Tanzania.
“It is difficult to know what the impact of this tour might have on each individual student,” Dr. McMurphy said. “Certainly getting to visit a place as beautiful as the Serengeti cannot be discounted, but I think the greatest impact comes from meeting the people of Tanzania and an appreciation of daily life in a country where over 80 percent of the population lives below the international poverty line.”
During the early days of the tour, the group met with Simon Sandilen, a logistics officer with Heifer International – Tanzania. Sandilen accompanied the students on a visit to four remote farms in the area surrounding Mt. Meru. Heifer International has been working in Tanzania for several decades and has been instrumental in providing instruction in breeding and caring for livestock, including cattle, donkeys (for hauling water), goats, chicken, and fish and in methods of organic farming and biogas production.
The next part of the itinerary included a journey to Karatu, where the students toured a medical clinic and dropped off donations of medical supplies collected at the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine. The clinic is part of a registered charity through the Foundation for African Medicine and Education. Other cultural interactions included a hike at the Olmoti Crater with two local Masai men and a visit to a Masai village, where the group was welcomed with a traditional dance. One of the members of the village gave the group a tour of a Masai hut and the boma (corral made from brush) where the cattle are kept. The milk and blood from the cattle are the predominant food for the Masai people.
The trip finished with several days of game drives in the national parks, including the famed Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. The list of wildlife species viewed was “endless” but highlights included numerous leopards, lions and elephants, and witnessing thousands of wildebeest and zebras on their annual migration in the Serengeti.