Views from Above: Light Airplanes and Wildlife Research and Management in the Serengeti during the 1950s and 1960s



Long-term evaluations of population numbers and the movement of migrating herds are regarded as essential to devising effective conservation strategies. Since the late 1950s, observation from the air has played an important role in monitoring migration in large protected areas with difficult terrain, such as the Serengeti National Park. The introduction of light airplanes, such as Cessnas and Piper Super Cubs, into zoological fieldwork supported new ideas about land use by colonial game wardens and visiting researchers that dominated until the introduction of cheap cameras and, later, remote sensing by satellite.

Author Biography

Simone Schleper, Maastricht University, Netherlands

Simone Schleper is a postdoctoral researcher at the history department of Maastricht University, Netherlands. In her current work, she investigates the history of animal migration research and conservation, and how animal mobility has challenged scientific and popular ideas about human-animal relations in a globalizing world. She is part of the “Moving Animals” project, sponsored by NWO Vici grant VI.C.181.010. Her previous publications deal with the scientific history of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the International Biological Program, international conservation conferences, and national park design.

A Cessna landing alongside a Land Rover in Mikumi National Park, Tanzania. Photograph by Adam Jones, 2013. CC BY-SA 2.0.