The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Wonderfully Wild. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Wonderfully Wild.


Tanzanians are Among the Nicest People You Will Ever Meet

Dr. James Danoff-Burg May 22, 2019


The last three days were some of the most challenging and exciting and invigorating days of my professional career. We just finished the workshop phase of our second workshop – this time in Arusha, Tanzania, working with some of the finest people I have yet met.


The two organizations that we have been working with the last week are leaders in Tanzanian conservation. One of them, Wild Nature Institute, has been a core conservation partner of The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens for several years. The wonderful people at WNI coordinated this workshop and got their close partners PAMS (formerly known as Protected Areas Management Systems) to participate in this intimate 12-person workshop. 


As with the 10 conservation organizations in Kenya that we worked with last week, WNI and PAMS are well aware of the value of working with communities to help ensure that conservation is successful. Unlike the Kenyan organizations, there was a real dichotomy in terms of the scientific expertise of the participants in Tanzania. Exactly half are either mid-career PhD scientists from the US, Europe, or South Africa, or have the equivalent in terms of the research and work that they have done over the last decade-plus of work. The other half are young Tanzanian nationals who have not had the benefit of an engaging introduction to science. This split in expertise made it very difficult to get through the basics of social science research to everyone present. Yowza.


Nonetheless, with the help of all involved – Tanzanians and non-Tanzanian researchers – we got through the first three days of a dramatically reconfigured workshop, at least relative to my default template. We followed the same general workshop arc as in Kenya, beginning with three general ideas that participants wanted to explore, to questions, variables, hypotheses, survey creation, and survey protocol planned.


Although this was a much more difficult workshop to run, relative to that in Kenya, I feel as proud of the Tanzanians in particular as I have ever felt about anyone with whom I have worked. To go from some deep-seated confusion on day one to them feeling confident about their surveys in only three days is a massive accomplishment!


In addition, I must say that if you ever get the opportunity to work closely with someone from Tanzania, I suspect that you will develop the deep love for the people of that fine country that I now have. What amazingly kind and generous people.


Tomorrow, we will actually to out and implement these surveys, and in three communities! I cannot wait to see what happens. Please keep your fingers crossed!

Search the Living Desert WebsiteMagnifying glass icon