Nicholas School Internship Blogs

The Deceitful Sunset
by -- June 15th, 2012

East Africa is known for its exceptional sunsets but I must admit that I have yet to be thoroughly impressed, until tonight. Tonight’s sunset was amazing – the colors were beautiful and I stopped dead in my tracks to enjoy it. It did seem a bit odd though, as the sun disappeared above the horizon. As I pondered this fact and tried to decide if there was just an unusual-looking layer of clouds at the horizon, I saw a glimpse of flickering bright orange to the south. Fire? And yes, it was fire. Tanzania National Parks was doing a prescribed burn at the Tarangire Park boundary. (Prescribed burns are a common land management technique in areas that are prone to wildfires. By pre-burning the grasses along the park boundary, the park service lessens the chance that a wildfire outside the park will move into the park. In years like this one, that are extremely dry, prescribed burning can be very important to avoid devastating wildfires.) This explained the mysterious “cloud” the sun melted into, and probably also the amazing colors. I’ve never seen a prescribed burn before (despite many opportunities in the Duke Forest) and certainly never from this vantage point! We could see entire lines of fire burning, including one going straight up the side of a mountain. It was pretty cool to watch – like being in an actual ring of fire! (Of course it is only cool if the fire does not come towards Noloholo, which in this case, thankfully it did not.)

Prescribed Burn


  1. Jason Elliott
    Jun 15, 2012

    This summer, I am working with the Nature Conservancy on prescribed burn window analysis. Perhaps I can convince them to let me do “field work” in Tanzania…

  2. Aunt Gail
    Jun 16, 2012

    So beautiful . What an amazing opportunity for you to see this beaultiful land. Looking forward to more posts.

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