In July 2019 a group of Moulton College students and Animal Management lecturers went on Safari to Africa. I was lucky enough to be one of those students. Travelling to Africa was an amazing experience and one I will never forget.
It was inspirational to visit the communities surrounding the wildlife reserves and learning how the people are trying to save wildlife through rehabilitation and breeding programmes. We developed new skills such as how to track specific animals based on their footprints and behaviours they may use whilst out in the bush. For example, when looking at elephant footprints we searched for mud on trees as elephants rub off the mud to remove parasites. This experience was very interesting and allowed me to learn more about the natural behaviours of the animals we were tracking.
One of my highlights of this trip was visiting the cheetah rehabilitation centre. Here we witnessed the progression of a breeding program for Cheetahs, with the intention of releasing them back into game reserves and the wild. There are less than 7,500 Cheetahs left in the world according to the World Wildlife Federation. At the cheetah breeding centre, their aim was to help increase this number by breeding cheetahs and releasing them back into the wild. I was lucky enough to see this first hand as we were allowed to view a few of the cubs that would later be released when old enough. I also saw some captive cheetahs running through the centre.
When visiting Moholoholo rehabilitation centre I saw many animals that where effected by poachers and habitat loss. In this centre, the thing that shocked me the most was the number of snares that were recovered on the premises in the last year. This exceeded my expectations and made me realise that poaching alone can have a drastic effect on a species.
Overall the experience which I most enjoyed was the game drives through the bush. This is where I was able to see a range of animals enjoying the safety of the reserves. The drives also allowed me to see the big 5. These include leopards, lions, rhinos, elephants and buffalo. The drives also provided some amazing views that overlooked the reserves and allowed us to watch a magnificent sun setting on the African landscapes.