Students carry out conservation work in South Africa

June 2022

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Beautiful landscapes, amazing animals and the chance to make a difference.

This summer, students at Writtle University College in Essex travelled to South Africa to carry out a work placement at UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve.

The 6,000 hectare area is home to dozens of species including leopards, giraffes, aardvarks and zebras. The two-week trip offered an exciting opportunity to gain hands-on conservation experience.

The students, who are all studying animal-related university degrees, were involved in every aspect of reserve management including animal studies, maintenance, field patrols, data collection and night drives.

Technology is vital to modern reserve management. Students learnt to use camera drones can locate lost kudu (a species of antelope). They also assisted in practical day-to-day tasks such as relocating bird hides and carrying out weekly game counts to monitor animals’ health and population size.

Lecturer Terri Amory said: "Thank you to UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve for offering our students an outstanding work programme. At Writtle University College we believe in putting science into practice. This summer's trip reflects our commitment to combining hands-on experience and expert theory."

Students were split into two groups, with seven visiting the nature reserve in early June, and a group of ten replacing them for the second half of the month. The programme featured research training, wildlife identification techniques and access to equipment and materials.

For more information on Writtle University College's animal-related courses, go to writtle.ac.uk/animal.