Science Seminar: A Model for Conservation Efforts from a Kenyan Nature Reserve

Dr. Shelly Thomas

An Eastern Mennonite University faculty member will present a model for conservation efforts from a Kenyan nature reserve at the next Suter Science Seminar.

Dr. Shelly Thomas, assistant professor of biology, will speak on “An ASSET for People and Nature in the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Kenya,” 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1 in room 104 of the Suter Science Center.

Famous for its rare birds and mammals, the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest merges with Mida Creek to form a UNESCO biosphere reserve that attracts upwards to 4,000 tourists every year.

“For years, Kenya reserves were regarded as government property; neighboring communities had no say in management or benefits gained from natural resources, resulting in great antagonism,” Thomas pointed out. “The cost of living drove families to over exploit it through illegal hunting, fishing and logging.”

An international conservation organization, A Rocha Kenya (, designed a program called ASSETS that channels income from sustainable eco-tourism to nearby communities for school scholarships. ASSETS currently supports 175 students from eight communities, “which has contributed to a significant change of attitude toward the Reserve,” Thomas said.

Refreshments will be served 15 minutes prior to the presentation.

Admission to the seminar is free. For more information, contact Dr. Roman Miller