The Lelwel Hartebeest - an antelope native to many East African countries - has such a poor memory, it often forgets it's being chased by a lion in the middle of the hunt. Needless to say, that never ends well for the Lelwel Hartebeest. The glitch in its fight or flight reflex is a major contributing factor to the species’ rise in conservation status, now listed as endangered. That's just one thing Jason Golden '22 picked up this fall in his "classroom" - which he sometimes shares with elephants.
Golden is studying wildlife conservation and political ecology in Uganda. He's learning about different strategies to conserve endangered wildlife, and through an independent study, he's exploring ways to implement new conservation tactics. Golden lives by himself, and he's responsible for his own travel throughout the country. His classrooms are the Ugandan savannas, lakes, rain forests, and mountains, and his dorm room is often a tent. Every day is a new adventure, literally. His favorite animal observed so far? The hippo. He's rarely caught a glimpse on game drives, but he sometimes hears them walking by his tent in the middle of the night. In fact, sometimes he wakes up to the sound of the hippos "talking."
Golden and his classmates don't spend all of their time in the wild with their research. Golden has been bungee jumping, horseback riding, and white water rafting down the Nile. He's also picked up some Swahili, which has been very helpful when shopping for food at local markets. Because, unlike the lion, Golden can't just wait for the Lelwel Hartebeest to forget that it's dinner time.
"Uganda is an incredibly beautiful and diverse country, full of a variety of ecosystems, each with their own distinct features and wildlife. Everywhere we have camped, we have observed the animals you only ever see in pictures or zoos. The experience of being here is unlike any other."
Jason Golden '22