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Mapping the Tugen Trail

23 June 2009 Leicester, University of

A University of Leicester postgraduate has trekked 140km across the Rift Valley in East Africa all in the way of academic research.

She has found how ecotourism could offer a lifeline to protect wildlife and traditional ways of life in remote regions.

And she has involved local people in creating films and maps used on GoogleEarth and YouTube to highlight the issues facing local people.

Geographer Kate Moore is studying the role of traditional values in environmental conservation.  The walk formed a cultural and environmental transect across the lands occupied by the Tugen people where a network of trails physically links the Rift Valley’s diverse landscapes.

While there she walked with women carrying heavy twenty litre barrels of water many kilometres from the river to their home and interviewed village chiefs who talked about the problems of drought and food shortage.

She said: “Inevitably as water and food become scarce using wild meat to feed a family increases. One solution is to increase ecotourism income in this little known area.”

“I was enthused by the natural, cultural protection that creatures were given. In one village the solution of the conflicts arising from the resident crocodile population in the dam eating livestock was not to kill them but to request money and aid to build a third, enclosed dam just for wildlife.”

“Local people participated in mapping some of these trails with GPS and a video camera. These films and maps are being used on GoogleEarth and YouTube to show the world some of the issues facing the Tugen people and as a possible way forward for encouraging ecotourism development and conservation alike.”

Kate Moore will be presenting her research at the Festival of Postgraduate Research which is taking place on Thursday 25th June in the Belvoir Suite, Charles Wilson Building at the University of Leicester between 11.30am and 1pm.

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