Posted on 20 May 2019
Eighteen of our Animal Management HE students recently went on a 3 week trip to South Africa, as part of their course. They visited 2 game reserves in Limpopo during their stay, getting a real feel for the land as they camped out whilst at one of the reserves.
The trip consisted of a combination of theory lessons and practical activities in the field, which all the students took part in. Some of the topics that the students covered whilst on the trip included animal behaviour, tracking and reserve management all taught by industry experts. The students were also shown how to use telemetry for animal monitoring purposes. They also spent time studying ecology, ethics and ecotourism in the local environment.
As part of the trip, the students visited the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project. This is a conservation group working with the Southern Ground-Hornbills. It is estimated that there are only about 1500 Ground-Hornbills left in South Africa and their work is helping to slow the decline of this population. For more information about their work, visit their website http://ground-hornbill.org.za/index.html
As part of their additional activities, the students went on a cycle tour in Soweto, which included a guided tour around the area amongst the various neighbourhoods. This was an amazing way to discover Soweto with stops along the way at Mandela House and The Hector Pieterson Memorial. This was an excellent opportunity for the students to experience some aspects of local life and culture of the area and they also learnt a lot about Soweto’s rich history. The students were also able to go on a horse back safari - this was a safari from a different perspective! Wild animals came very close to the horses and the students had some amazing sightings.
Whilst in the game reserves, the students went on many game and nature walks and were lucky enough to spot many varied species, including elephants, cheetah, hippo, zebra, wildebeest, many antelope species and warthogs. They also spotted many other smaller species such as monitor lizards and scorpions.
During their 3 week experience, the Merrist Wood students undertook a range of safari and community activities and projects, providing them with invaluable new skills. Upon successful completion of the trip, the students have achieved an important qualification in wildlife track & sign, first aid and game management.
The students all had an amazing time and made memories that will last a lifetime. They made the most of their beautiful surroundings and went on both sunrise and sunset drives to truly appreciate their magnificent setting. Merrist Wood College has been taking students to South Africa for many years and we cannot wait to start organising the next visit!