Stauffer establishing international relationships in Africa
By Lynn Davis
Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 37 - July 30, 1998
One of the new priorities of the university administration has been to establish additional relationships with international partners, so that students would have more opportunities for a "global" education. As those initiatives have trickled down to the colleges, the College of Forestry and Wildlife Resources has quickly moved to expand its own offerings.
Building networks to Kenya has been Dean F. Stauffer, an associate professor of wildlife science, who presented last year a two-week workshop on habitat-evaluation-procedures (HEP) for the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) at Kenya's invitation.
There were approximately 30 participants holding the title of bio-diversity officers within the KWS. These individuals came from all regions within Kenya and were mid-level managers with responsibility for management of resources within the major Kenyan parks and reserves. Just how did Stauffer first connect to Kenya?
He has a Kenyan student, Enos Esikuri, who is working on elephant/habitat/people interactions. In 1996, they toured the study area, and he presented several talks to the Kenya Wildlife Service on HEP, as well as other habitat-evaluation methods. As a result, the Kenya wildlife officials invited Stauffer to return last fall to present the HEP workshop to some of their biologists.
Developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and used widely in America, HEP represents a formal set of methods to evaluate the quality of habitat for wildlife species of interest and is used to assess the potential impacts of various actions taken that modify wildlife habitats.
The major accomplishments of Stauffer's workshop were to introduce HEP to the KSW personnel and assisting them in identifying specific management objectives for their particular areas. "We guided the development of specific actions they needed to take to achieve their management objectives," Stauffer said. "We helped several individuals in developing habitat-suitability models for Kenyan wildlife species. These models can be used in HEP applications in Kenya."
The workshop was conducted on the campus of the Kenya Wildlife Service's Naivasha Wildlife and Fisheries Training Institute, located near Naivasha, Kenya, about 100 kilometers from Nairobi in the Great Rift Valley. Several formal HEP training classes are offered each year through the Continuing Education Office at Virginia Tech, in conjunction with the Biological Resources Division (BRD) of the U. S. Geological Survey.
Stauffer's formal class in Kenya, however, marked the first time HEP had been taught in Africa. Richard Stiehl of BRD in Fort Collins, Colorado, served as a co-instructor with Stauffer for the class. Both wildlife experts conduct the HEP training in the U.S.
As a result of the Kenya workshop last fall, the KWS has requested that both men return in 1998 to conduct another class for more of their personnel. "Our plans are under way," Stauffer said.