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on the ground in africa

CNR is not an ivory tower – its people, from graduate students to faculty, are engaged with people and problems at every corner of the world. Here’s a sampling of some of the faculty projects making a difference on the African continent.

(Click on any hotspot on the map to view work done in that region of the continent).

Conservation ecologist Justin Brashares' work has examined the black-market trade of African bushmeat throughout the world, and his critical role linking the precipitous decline of African wildlife to the international fishing trade was recently featured in the National Geographic program Strange Days on Planet Earth.

An expert in poverty analysis and rural development, economist Alain de Janvry’s recent report for the World Bank focused on the need for greater investment in agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. With Professor Elisabeth Sadoulet, de Janvry has also worked extensively on rural banks and "microcredit" projects that empower individuals and communities within Africa.

Through the Africa Biofortified Sorghum Project, Bob Buchanan and Peggy Lemaux are working with their colleagues in Africa to improve the digestibility of sorghum, a main food staple for hundreds of millions of sub-Saharan Africans. In its unmodified form, sorghum’s protein and starch are difficult to digest, but these plant biologists are seeking to unlock the nutritional potential of this important food source.

Conservation biologist Claire Kremen has led a pioneering conservation planning initiative in Masoala National Park, Madagascar’s largest nature reserve. Her continued work examines the impacts of deforestation on species distributions, and she is creating a web-based biodiversity database that promises to provide researchers with necessary tools for conservation planning and monitoring. Read about Kremen’s most recent success, developing a biodiversity hot-spot protection map of Madagascar.

Professor Louise Fortmann's Longitudinal Tree Products Access Study examines the link between social change in Zimbabwe and access to tree products. Fortmann also takes a close look at science and democracy, highlighting new ways in which local farmers and other nonscientists are making important contributions to scientific knowledge.

In Namibia’s Etosha National Park, Professor Wayne Getz’s research group is using a combination of fieldwork and population modeling to study the link between animal deaths and bacterial anthrax infection. They aspire to fill a crucial knowledge gap and improve local control efforts by understanding the episodic nature of anthrax outbreaks. In the context of human disease, Getz is also working on the analysis and modeling of the HIV-tuberculosis pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa.

Professor Vincent Resh has served as an advisor on water sustainability issues regarding disease control, habitat management and population resettlement to 11 West African nations for over 15 years. See our feature, "Ending African River Blindness."