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Drexel in Equatorial Guinea: Biodiversity on Bioko Island
Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Fall,
Program Dates &
Click here to view
Budget Sheets Fall,
Fact Sheet:
Minimum Language Requirement:
No Requirement
Language of Instruction:
English, Spanish
Minimum Cumulative GPA:
Class Eligibility:
2. Sophomore, 3. Pre-Junior, 4. Junior, 5. Senior
Other Eligibility Requirements:
Academic Approval, Co-op Approval, Language Evaluation, See Brochure for details
Eligible Majors:
All Majors
Type of Program:
Housing Options:
Group House, Tent
Program Advisor:
Daniela Ascarelli
Supplemental Application:
Program Description:

Bioko Island Picture
Bioko Island,
Equatorial Guinea


The Program

This study abroad programm, now in its 10th year,  takes place on the island of Bioko, part of the Spanish-speaking central African country of Equatorial Guinea. The format of the program includes  individual field research projects at the Moka Wildlife Center in the Southern Highlands of Bioko, coursework at National University of Equatorial Guinea in the capital city of Malabo, and additional fieldwork in the tropical forests, mountains, lakes and beaches of Bioko Island. To maintain the high level of individualized study, the program is offered twice a year (September - December and January -- March) to a class of eight students.

The program offers a unique opportunity for undergraduates and recent graduates to:

Study and work in a physically challenging environment.  During the program you will be hiking on uneven surfaces, up and down mountains and hills. You will be required to hike in less than ideal conditions-- rain, humidity, biting ants, etc.  While you do not need to be a triathlete to go on this program you need to be reasonably fit and able to hike and walk significant distances.

•  Study tropical biodiversity and its conservation, with an emphasis on field work that takes advantage of Bioko Island's pristine rain forests ranging from sea level to over 10,000 ft in altitude, its seven species of rare monkeys, and its four species of nesting sea turtles.

• Work in collaboration with an experienced African field biologist on an individual research project, thereby adding to the biodiversity database being created for Bioko Island .

• Work in collaboration with an established conservation program on the political, economic and ecological issues involved in biodiversity conservation, thereby building personal credentials and contacts.

• Explore the linguistic and cultural diversity of Equatorial Guinea by collaborating with local university students on research projects and on Spanish language skills.

The program is run in conjunction with the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program (BBPP), part of the academic partnership between the National University of Equatorial Guinea and Drexel University

The island of Bioko is one of the most beautiful and biologically-significant places in all of Africa. It is home to Africa's greatest concentration of endangered primates and to more than fifty unique species of plants. During the dry season (November to February), butterflies gather in the rain forest and endangered marine turtles come ashore to nest on the black sand beaches. Nearly 200 species of birds fly amongst the island's three volcanic peaks, the highest almost 3000 meters above sea level (~ 10,000 ft).

Located 20 miles (32 km) off the coast of Cameroon in west central Africa, Bioko is a part of the African country of Equatorial Guinea. At Bioko's northern tip is the country's capital city, Malabo (population: 100,000), a city pulsing with petroleum wealth and easily accessible from many European capitals. Moving south the island becomes increasingly rural, devolving into large swaths of undisturbed virgin rain forest. 

The August 2008 issue of National Geographic had a wonderful article on Bioko Island in general and Dr. Hearn's work in particular. If you can get a hold of that issue you should, if not, you can take a look at the article and the photos here.

Find out more about the program through previous participants in Dragons Abroad or by looking at the blog from a Winter 2013 participant or the facebook page from the Winter 2014 group.

You can view a short documentary about EG by going here:


The Experience

The cornerstone course of the program is ENVS 410 Research in Tropical Ecology (6 quarter credits= 4 semester credits). Since its inception we have engaged a prominent field biologist with extensive Africa experience to teach this course. In past years Dr. Janette Wallis (University of Oklahoma) and Dr. Esteban Sarmiento (American Museum of Natural History) contributed their expertise. From Fall 2006- Spring 2011 the instructor for the course was Dr. Tom Butynski.

Dr. Butynski redesigned the course over his 5 year tenure as instructor to provide a preeminent field experience to aspiring biologists. Currently the course is taught by either Drew Cronin or Jake Owens, and will emphasize the foundation that Dr. Butynski laid out.

Drew Cronin has lived and worked on Bioko Island in various capacities since 2005.  Currently, he is a 4th year PhD Candidate at Drexel University under the tutelage of Dr. Gail Hearn.  Most of his research has been on the ecology and conservation status of Bioko Island's large mammal species, focusing on bushmeat hunting and diurnal primate populations. He has also conducted studies on the behavior of captive lemurs and montane bat populations. In addition to conducting research however, Drew also served as the Resident Director for the Study Abroad program on Bioko. As such, he has first hand knowledge of conservation work from many viewpoints, and is able to relate this to students on many levels.

Jake Owens, also a 5th year Ph.D. Candidate under Dr. Hearn at Drexel University, has been a part a part of the BBPP since 2007 and has spent considerable time working and living on Bioko. He has extensive experience with diamondback terrapins and many bird species in remote areas of the US, Australia, Chile, and Tajikistan. Jake has been closely involved with the Study Abroad program on Bioko since coming to Drexel, and excels at imparting his knowledge of the natural environment to students.

Take a look at three example papers (chameleon ecology; butterfly ecology; galago ecology; gastropod diversity) that resulted from the Spring 2011 Field Research in Tropical Ecology course.

The Field Research in Tropical Ecology takes place at the Moka Wildlife Center in Bioko's comfortable southern highlands, home to many of Bioko's most interesting forest animals.

A second shorter field course, ENVS 411. Field Methods in Tropical Ecology (3 quarter credits = 2 semester credits) involves a one-week expedition to Bioko's undisturbed southern coast (during the fall term) or the Gran Caldera expedition (during the Jan-March term). This expedition gives students the opportunity to census forest animals, especially the seven species of monkeys which occur at high densities in this area, and also to record nesting activities by the four species of sea turtles.

The remaining courses (Natural Resource Economics; Society and Environment; and Spanish Language Study) are taught at the National University of Equatorial Guinea in the capital city of Malabo.

Interested in learning more about the drill monkeys that are on Bioko? Check out the Drill Project

Find out more about the program through previous participants in Dragons Abroad  or by looking at the blog from a Winter 2013 participant.

Bioko Island PictureThe Academics 

The courses offered in this program have been specifically designed to reflect the realities of biodiversity conservation in developing countries. Students are required to take all five courses.

ENVS 342: EQUATORIAL GUINEA: Natural Resource Economics (4.5 quarter credits = 3 semester credits) A lecture course that combines instruction in the economic implications of natural resourcees (renewable and non-renewable resources, efficient utilization, market performance, government controls, sustainability and discounting) with a university-wide guest lecture series addressing local issues.

ENVS 341: EQUATORIAL GUINEA : Society and Environment (4.5 quarter credits = 3 semester credits) A lecture and community outreach course based at UNGE that combines instruction in mankind's relationship with the natural environment (human population, natural resources, environmental degradation, pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change) with environmental outreach activities specific to Equatorial Guinea.

LANG 180: SPANISH LANGUAGE AND AFRICAN CULTURE IN EQUATORIAL GUINEA. ( 4.5 quarter credits = ~3 semester credits.  Drexel students will be registered for 2 credits in order not to go over the 20 credit limit). A lecture and discussion course that explores the social and cultural traditions of Equatorial Guinea through readings of significant works (poetry, fiction, social and cultural commentary) in Spanish, where appropriate by Equatoguinea authors.  For those students with lower level language skills the course will focus on Spanish language acquisition. 

ENVS 344: EQUATORIAL GUINEA: Field Research in Tropical Ecology (6 quarter credits = 4 semester credits) An Intensive Research course that takes advantage of the unspoiled rainforest adjacent to the Moka Wildlife Center, a university affiliated research station located in the highlands of Bioko Island. Opportunities exist for student research on topics including primates, antelope, birds, chameleons, butterflies and plants. Assignments for this class will begin approximately one month before the program begins. Please plan accordingly.

ENVS 343: EQUATORIAL GUINEA: Field Methods in Tropical Ecology (3 quarter credits = 2 semester credits) A lecture and field excursion course based either on the Southern Beaches or in the Caldera, combining instruction in standard methods for studying rain forest communities (expedition planning; GPS and mapping, forest diversity and productivity;wildlife population monitoring) with multi-day field experiences in Bioko Island's remote protected areas.

Students are required to take all 5 courses for a total of 22 quarter credits (15 semester credits) during each 11-week term. N. B. Drexel students will be registered for 20 credits-- earning only 2 credits for the Lang 180 course. There are opportunities for service learning, especially teaching English as a Second Language, as well as volunteering in local schools, clinics and at BBPP's Moka Wildlife Center.

Are you a Drexel Biology major?  Click here to see how the courses fit into the curriculum of Drexel Biology majors.

The  courses in the program are taught in English and the professors (some US citizens; some Equatoguinean citizens) typically have advanced degrees from accredited universities in the United States.


While all coursework on this program will be in English, the national language of Equatorial Guinea is Spanish, thus students are required to have one year of university level Spanish (Spanish 103) or the equivalent or several years of university level French, the second language of Equatorial Guinea.  Please contact us to discuss your language abilities.

To advance their language skills more quickly before studying abroad, Drexel students should consider taking more language courses during their freshman summer vacation term or on campus during their co-op terms. For more information please contact Modern Languages Program at 215-895-5816.



Drexel students will receive Drexel credits and Drexel grades. The grades will be tabulated in their GPA.

Visiting students will receive one official Drexel transcript sent directly to your home institution. It is your responsibility to make sure that you understand how you will receive credit for the work you do on Bioko Island. Please check with your study abroad and academic advisors before you leave in order to avoid future disappointment.


Students live in tents while on the Field Research in Tropical Ecology course, and while taking the Field Methods in Tropical Ecology course, a total of about 4 weeks of the program, but during the rest of the program live in a group house in the capital city of Malabo. The house is located in the Los Angeles section of Malabo on a busy street 4 minutes walk from the University. The house has hot water, electricity, A/C, and intermittent email. Every student is issued a cell phone, thus there is no land line in the house. In prior years the group has employed a maid/cook to clean, purchase food, and prepare meals. This cost is not included in the program fee. Students should budget about $650 on communal fund expenses (breakfast, dinner, occasional lunch).

Bioko Island Picture


♦ Depart USA on Friday Sept 19th

♦ Arrive in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on September 20th

♦ Depart Malabo, EG on Thursday, December 6th

All students should be on Lufthansa Flight 562, Frankfurt-Malabo,  on September 20th for the arrival into Malabo that same day.

All students should be on Lufthansa flight 563, Malabo- Frankfurt,  on December 6th for Malabo departure.

Student housing and Drexel study abroad logistics (ie airport pickup, luggage storage, customs logistics, etc. is not available before Sept. 20th or after December 6th

January 2014 -- confirmed dates  We urge all students to fly Lufthansa from Frankfurt to Malabo.  There is a direct flight from Philadelphia to Frankfurt for those in the Philadelphia region.

  • Depart US on January 6, 2014, arrive in Malabo on January 7, 2014
  • Depart Malabo on March 29, 2014, arrive in US on March 29, 2014

Please note: Flights to Malabo do sell out. The airlines that fly to Malabo on a regular basis are Iberia/British Airways, Air France and Lufthansa. 


Drexel Students

Drexel students pay their regular Drexel tuition plus an additional program fee of $5200 for Fall 2012. This fee covers housing, orientation and in-country field trips including the Moka expedition and the trip to the Southern Beaches. 

The Winter 2013 program fee will be $6200 and includes the Caldera expedition and covers housing, orientation, and in-country field trips including the Caldera expedition.

The program fee does not include meals, health and accident insurance, books, personal property/travel insurance, and immunizations or airfare to and from Equatorial Guinea. Drexel students can use all of their Drexel financial aid to help pay for the program.

Visiting Students

The Fall 2013 program fee for visiting students of $15,200 includes tuition, housing, orientation, and in-country field trips including the Moka expedition and the trip to the Southern Beaches as well as a Drexel University transcript.

The Winter 2013 program fee for visiting students will be $16,200 and includes tuition, housing, orientation and in-country field trip including the Caldera expedition.

The program fee does not include meals, health and accident insurance books, personal property/travel insurance, and immunizations or travel to and from Equatorial Guinea. Check with your study abroad office to see if you can use your federal financial aid or other aid to help pay for the cost of this program.

Please look at the budget portion of the program brochure (top of the page) for more information.


US Citizens are not required to have a visa to enter Equatorial Guinea but non US citizens will have to obtain a visa. The consulate of Equatorial Guinea is located in Washington DC. You will work directly with Drexel's study abroad office as well as The National University of Equatorial Guinea in order to facilitate the visa issuing process. This process may take 6-8 weeks so students should act early.


You should begin the immunization process now by contacting your primary care doctor. They can advise you on immunization centers in your area. Depending on your type of insurance coverage, some shots may be covered. See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.

The CDC recommends the following when studying in Central Africa:

Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).

Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment. A good idea.

Meningococcal (meningitis), if you plan to visit Central African Republic, Chad, and Sudan from December through June. Also a good idea.

• Yellow fever, if you plan to travel anywhere outside cities. A requirement.

• Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region. E.G. is definitely a developing country and so this is highly recommended.

• As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who did not receive the series as infants.

Malaria is a preventable infection that can be fatal if left untreated. Prevent infection by taking prescription antimalarial drugs and protecting yourself against mosquito bites. You will need to take one of the following antimalarial drugs: atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine (primaquine in special circumstances and only after G6PD testing).

Note: Chloroquine is NOT an effective antimalarial drug in Equatorial Guinea and should not be taken to prevent malaria in this region.


Below are sample costs for the above mentioned vaccines from Drexel's student health center. (3201 Arch Street) Most student health clinics will have the same vaccines for similar costs. You must have a current Drexel ID in order to use the service.

Please check with your doctor as you may find that you have already received some of these vaccines as a pre-requisite for enrollment at Drexel or your home university.

Hepatitis A - $60
Hepatitis B - 3*$70 = $210 series of three: one shot now, one shot one month later, final shot 6 months later, most likely upon return from time abroad
Meningitis - $125
Tetanus-Diphtheria - $40
MMR booster - $55
Polio - $40

Students must also get the following vaccines which are NOT available at the Drexel Student Health Center but are available at Drexel University College of Medicine, Travel Health Center There is a $35 office visit fee for Drexel students.

Travel Health Center
219 North Broad Street
8th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: 215-762-6655
Fax: 215-762-3031

Yellow Fever - $100
Typhoid - $70


Bioko Island PictureDrexel students: This is a Drexel sponsored program, thus all of your financial aid travels with you.

Visiting students: You should be able to use your federal financial aid to help defray the costs of this program. Please fax all consortium agreements to the attention of Daniela Ascarelli, Director Drexel Study Abroad at the following fax number: 215-895-6184. Check with your study abroad office to see if you can use your home school financial aid to help pay for the cost of this program.

All students: If you are interested in seeking additional funding please take a look at our PDF on Scholarship & Funding Opportunities. Remember that scholarship deadlines may be much earlier than study abroad deadlines, so plan accordingly.


Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Winter 2015 10/01/2014 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Students will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.
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