Today we had an early morning to check rodent traps at 6:00am. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch anything overnight so we headed back to the dining hall for breakfast and to warm up with some hot drinks.
Today’s lecture started at 10:00am, and was done by the game reserve’s ecologist, Natalie Fowler. She gave us an introduction into the management techniques used by Amakhala for the optimal management of mega-herbivores and carnivores, elephants and lions in particular, as they greatly impact vegetation and prey species on the reserve.
After lunch we went on a game drive and Natalie demonstrated how to use telemetry to track animals with collars. Through this method, we successfully located the lion pride, which includes one adult male, one adult female and their offspring, two sub-adult females. We were very excited to see them but they couldn’t have cared less about us, they went on napping as lions do in the middle of the day.
After we had our fill, we moved on in search of other species, giraffe and elephant in particular as some students are focusing on these for their research projects. Up until now, we had not seen any giraffe but hopes were high. Vince finally spotted a giraffe off in the distance, so we drove in that direction hoping to find more. Much to our delight, we happened upon a group of giraffe in an opening accompanied by zebra, eland and impala. It was an idyllic and picturesque view of South Africa, definitely the highlight of the day. Fun fact: a group of giraffe is called a journey or a kaleidoscope.
After supper we had our first fire-side discussion to help encourage our thoughts about the importance and effectiveness of conservation. Through this discussion we highlighted various issues that arise from a conservation perspective as well as a business perspective. We continued our discussion by applying our classroom knowledge to various hypothetical conservation situations.
By Callie, Christine, and Ireland