Postcards from the Field

--Field Work / Field Talk--

To: The Readers of 21COE Project Web Site stamp
 "Swayne’s hartebeest"

I send you a tiding from the Ethiopian savanna.

The wild animals of Africa and the endless savanna. . . It’s to see these that I have come to Africa.

The photograph shows some Swayne’s hartebeest, wild animals that I encountered when I first came to Africa in 1996. In the sanctuary, there are only 100 individuals of the Swayne’s hartebeest. In the Red Data Book, these are recorded as animals in danger of extinction. Arssi Oromo people cultivate the land and graze livestock in and around the sanctuary. The Swayne’s hartebeest are ordinary animals, but if you see them every day, you grow attached to them.

I had lived in this area for two years, as one of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers. I became a postgraduate student, and then returned here again. Why do wild animals become threatened with extinction? Why are the local people, who are assiduously getting on with making their living, made into “villains”? With questions like these in mind, I am doing research on the relationships between the local people and wildlife conservation.

The sun looks big on the savanna. When the sun is at its zenith, at mid-day, one hears the cries of the cow-herders minding their cattle, and the twittering of birds. Night-time, by contrast, is quiet under a great expanse of stars. From time to time the barking of hyena and jackal can be heard. It is all indescribably beautiful. Captivated as I am by the warmth of the local people and the beauty of the nature, I may have returned again to Africa. I’m shortly going to move to National Park a little to the south of here. I’ll send you news again, from there.

From: NISHIZAKI Nobuko (Division of African Area Studies)
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