South Gloucestershire and Stroud College.
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Degree students experience game reserve in South Africa

A group of Foundation Degree students from SGS College went on the journey of a lifetime last month to witness Africa’s native animals in their own habitat.

The main aim of the trip was; to introduce the students to the management and conservation of a reserve, practice and develop ecological surveying techniques and to develop skills in species ID, and tracks and signs.

Over nine days the learners were involved in: game counts; a vital activity in order to monitor specie numbers and ensure an appropriate predator-prey balance is being maintained, data collection for the Birds & Reserves project to assess presence and diversity, the students collected data on the birds present which was collated and sent to the local university where research is ongoing,  removal of invasive species; a common problem throughout the world but the climate on the reserve allows invasive species to flourish and finally bush walks to observe and monitor large game e.g. elephants, rhino and hippos.

The field trip allowed the students to put into practice the skills and knowledge that have been developed over the past year and a half at college. They were able to finally understand the complexities of reserve management through their own experiences and build relationships with professionals in the field. Several have kept in touch with the reserve’s Conservation Manager who is keen to have them back to complete a Field Guide training course and many are looking to return as volunteers.

Course Leader, Rachel Miller, commented: “This was a truly inspirational journey, I have never been more proud of a group of students; they were dedicated, conscientious with their tasks and did not stop interacting with the guides in order to learn more. Watching these students develop and their ambitions grow was one of the best experiences of my lecturing career so far.”