Help for the hippos of Zambia
Its name means "water horse," apt for the hippopotamus, which spends most of its life in deep water holes. But in Zambia's Luangwa River region, drought, deforestation, and farming are threatening the streams the hippos call home. Using aerial and satellite images, rain gauges, and soil and water samples, Conrad Heatwole, associate professor of biological systems engineering, is studying how agriculture, commerce, and tourism affect the water supply and, in turn, the wildlife in Zambia's South Luangwa National Park. Though satellite imagery has been used for decades to detect changes in land use, this region has not been studied in detail. "Assessing impacts is mostly educated guessing at this point," Heatwole says. "One of my goals is to use field research on runoff and erosion to help provide reliable answers."