Heather Tucker

Maasai/Elephant Conflicts and Crop Protection

Heather Tucker Heather Tucker, an animal science/pre-veterinary medicine major and honors student, traveled to Tanzania in summer 2006 to help solve crop protection issues and human-elephant conflicts.

Due to increased wildlife conservation efforts, the Maasai people in northern Tanzania are losing an increasing amount of agricultural land, reducing freedoms and opportunties for farmers and their ability to produce food. At the same time, habitat fragmentation is of special concern in this region, and local wildlife is suffering as a result of habitat degradation and blocked migration corridors. This conflict is what led Heather to Tanzania with the goal of determining how the Maasai farmers' efforts to keep elephants out of their crops are effecting both wildlife and crop yields.

By learning basic Swahili, Heather was able to communicate directly with the farmers in the Monduli District of Tanzania, most of whom were women. Through interviews, observation, and data collection, she contributed greatly to the worldwide conservation discussion by highlighting the need to balance human expansion with wildlife health and sustainability. UNH Professor Drew Conroy served as her faculty mentor.