Animal Management Students visit South Africa
A group of Level 3 Extended Diploma in Animal Management students have just returned home from an amazing study trip to South Africa.
It was a full, fun packed, adventurous 2 weeks, the purpose of the trip was to learn about conservation and to gain first-hand experience of African wildlife, environmental differences and South African culture.
The trip involved early starts, entertaining bus journeys, safari drives, long treks, good food, lots of Braai (BBQ) and even Impala stew!
It wasn’t all fun, the students had to put in some hard work too; At the CROW - Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife - they created enrichment for the Baboons and helped to clear out one of the enclosures. This was followed by a hard few hours’ work removing rocks from enclosures, weeding, preparing a pond and sweeping the gutters! All 27 students helped out and made an amazing team.
One of the highlights of the trip was the FreeMe Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre where the students helped with the sedation and capture of two Servals. Once both of the cats were sedated they were measured (ears, full body, tail and teeth), weighed and tagged. The students then watched as the Servals were released into a natural reserve.
The students took a 40 minute trek to Kosi Bay beach to help with a big clean up, picking up plastic bags, bottle tops and plastic sheets. Leatherback Turtles return to Kosi Bay each year and come ashore to lay their eggs, the students all felt proud that they had helped to improve their environment and encourage them to keep returning.
A 4am start for an early morning game drive was all worth it as the group witnessed zebras, a huge bull elephant, a breeding herd of elephants including adolescents, giraffe, white rhino including a baby, herds of buffalo and warthogs and beautiful butterflies.
At the Bayete Zulu game reserve, the students enjoyed some excellent elephant interaction, by hand feeding the elephants; they also got to physically touch the elephants all over, finding out that some parts were surprisingly smooth like ‘velvet’ and some very hairy! One student described this as “an AMAZING once in a lifetime experience!”
Other aspects of this packed trip included visits to the Natal Zoological Park, a cheetah park, bird of prey centre, the Natal Sharks Board, Ushaka Marine Park, a crocodile centre, meat, fish and clothing markets and a cultural village tour.