Hadlow College’s 2016 Study Tour to the Mankwe Wildlife Reserve, South Africa
In June, the Faculty of Animal Management based at Hadlow College runs an annual international study tour to the Mankwe Wildlife Reserve in South Africa for students studying on one of the 5 different degree programmes run by the department. The primary aim of this study tour is to provide students’ with a critical understanding of the wildlife found at Mankwe, with a focus on species ecology, behaviour, conservation status, and game management. Mankwe and Hadlow staff provide students with first-hand training in the field, helping them to develop their fieldwork skills and building on prior knowledge they have developed over the course of their degree programmes. This year’s trip was again very popular, with a total of 25 students and 3 staff taking part in the study tour.
The trip involved a wide variety of different activities and excursions ranging from setting-up camera traps to capture footage of species on the reserve, to assisting reserve staff with conducting anti-poaching patrols. This year’s trip also included multiple game drives in Pilanesberg National Park, a 572km² reserve located in the crater of an extinct volcano. Students had the opportunity to experience close encounters with many iconic African species from only a few metres away, such as white rhino, African elephant, giraffe, hippopotamus, and lion. The group were even fortunate enough to get a couple of sightings of the elusive leopard.
The College have already been invited back to the reserve for 2017/18 and preparations for this trip have already begun. Excellent feedback has been received from the students’ who attended this year’s trip, with several of the group having already indicated their intention to join the Mankwe Volunteer Programme. These volunteers play a critical role in assisting with the day-to-day running of the reserve and also play an active role in Mankwe’s conservation and education initiatives.