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  • $580 RAISED OF $5,000 GOAL


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  • Lisa Parker $100
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  • Robert Thomas $50

Mara Hyena Project Flood Disaster Relief

The tented Kenyan research camp of the Mara Hyena Project was badly flooded on June 13, 2015, when the Talek River jumped its banks and inundated the camp. The river rose at the remarkable rate of 8 feet per hour, and began spilling out of the riverbed shortly after dark. All the MSU students living in camp, as well as our African camp staff members, heroically waded back and forth through chest-deep muddy water to rescue what they could for the project, even while their own possessions were being ruined by the floodwaters. The river carried away many of our supplies and one of our research vehicles was also seriously damaged by the muddy water. The water levels peaked at around 9:30 p.m.

When the waters started to recede, everything in camp was left in sodden, jumbled, mud-covered piles. Happily, no one was hurt during the flood, and we managed to save all of our hyena samples and data so no scientific information was lost. But our camp was devastated. Despite all our efforts to save what we could that terrifying night, several thousand dollars’ worth of supplies and scientific equipment were ruined.

The MSU students who experienced this disaster describe the flood and our ongoing efforts to rebuild camp on the hyena project research blog at

It has taken us a few weeks to sort through the wreckage to determine which things were totally ruined and which could be salvaged. We now have a pretty good handle on that and have started this crowdfunding effort to try to replace the most critical of our lost equipment and supplies.

Your Support Will Make a Big Impact

The goal of this fundraising effort is to replace research supplies and equipment lost in the flood. We lost an enormous variety of things, ranging from dishes and kitchen knives to furniture and expensive pieces of scientific equipment. An expensive darting rifle was lost, as was its case and dozens of the lightweight plastic darts which are used to administer anesthetic to the hyenas. All solar systems powering our camp were badly damaged and the entire camp had to be rewired. All the stored fuel for our research vehicles was contaminated with muddy river water and was ruined. Many of our tools and all of our office supplies were lost. The only appliance we were able to salvage from our kitchen tent was the stove. Many chairs, tables, cabinets, and other pieces of furniture were so violently bashed around by the floodwaters that they were badly damaged. All our books and medications were lost, as was most of our food. These are the things we hope to replace with funds raised here.

Your generous donation will help us recover from this flooding disaster and move forward with our research. Please support us with any amount you can. Every dollar will make a big difference!


We are seeking funding through multiple venues, but the power of the crowd is where you can help us the most! All funds raised will be used to replace camp supplies and scientific equipment lost or ruined during the flood. We estimate that the total loss from damage incurred during the flood will exceed $18,000. We hope to raise approximately $12,000 through other means, and we hope to at least raise $5,000 through our CrowdPower effort.

Total budget for flood recovery includes:

Camp furniture: $830
New wiring for camp solar system: $320
Darting rifle, case and darts: $1,450
Kitchen supplies: $710
Office supplies: $240
Fuel and new jerry cans: $300
Food and medications: $530
Sterile swabs, pipette tips, centrifuge tubes, cryotubes, etc.: $620
Total from CrowdPower: $5,000

Who We Are

The Michigan State University Mara Hyena Project has been monitoring the behavioral ecology of spotted hyenas and other large carnivores since 1988 in the Masai Mara National reserve in southwest Kenya. The project director is Dr. Kay Holekamp, University Distinguished Professor of Integrative Biology at MSU and Director of the interdisciplinary graduate training program in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior. Our research in Kenya includes not only basic scientific inquiry about the biology of large carnivores but also intensive efforts to conserve hyenas, big cats and other mammalian carnivores in African ecosystems. Each year several MSU students, both graduate students and undergraduates, spend several months at our research camp along the Talek River learning how to collect behavioral data and immobilize hyenas for collection of measurement data, blood, and bacterial samples. Each year we also bring 18 MSU students to Kenya on a study abroad class called the Behavioral Ecology of African Mammals. Research equipment from our Talek camp is used by the students to conduct their independent projects for the class. Your donations to this fundraising effort will allow MSU students to continue international field research in this magnificent setting.

Make a Gift by Mail:

University Advancement
Spartan Way
535 Chestnut Road, Room 300
East Lansing, MI 48824

*Make check payable to Michigan State University and write “Appeal 16CRFPR1MARAFL” in the note section.

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