In July, Moulton College took a group of 12 students from Animal and Equine courses to South Africa on a study tour run through African Insight, a responsible tourism company. During our trip we visited a variety of different conservation organisations such as Moholoholo Animal Rehab Centre, Kruger National Park and Somkhanda Game Reserve. Each place offered a different insight as to the problems South Africa are facing when it comes to conservation, and different methods to combat this issue.
Moholoholo enabled students to get hands on with animals directly affected by human interference. They helped to feed some of the orphaned animals as well as learn about the problems they face with rehabilitating and releasing animals back in to the wild. Students also undertook a course in Reptile Care at Kinyonga Reptile Centre, and were able to face their fears first hand with an introduction to snake and tarantula holding!
During their time at Kruger, all students were lucky enough to see the “big five” in one day! As well as a leopard in a tree with a fresh kill, something that is rarely seen, and was a truly special experience. Time here mainly involved game drives, but also involved a bush walk experience, with professional guides, where students learnt what it meant to truly be in the “wild”, and how to track animals. Kruger was a real highlight and allowed the students to experience animals in their natural habitat. The guides were exceptional and students learnt not just about the animals, but about their habitat including the trees, soil and landscape.
Somkhanda Game Reserve was the final stop on the trip. Here students learnt how game reserves are being used in South Africa to conserve wildlife, and sustain communities. Students visited a game reserve with an abattoir where game is regularly culled for meat, which allows money to be generated for local communities, as well as helps to maintain a healthy and sustainable population of wildlife. Students also learnt about camera trapping techniques and animal identification, how to track rhino, and about the efforts to legalise the trade of rhino horn outside of South Africa, in order to protect the species.
The trip came to a close with a boat ride down the Pangola River, where crocodiles, hippos and rhinos, and an array of bird species, were witnessed whilst enjoying the spectacular African Scenery.
During this trip students were able to experience different types of conservation, as well as learn how the countries directly dealing with the crisis of animal extinction and habitat loss, are dealing with the issue head on. All students came away inspired, with the phrase “experience is what you get, when you don’t get what you were expecting” from one of the guides, left resonating in their ears…