Students from USP College in Benfleet took a two week trip to South Africa in July this year as part of their Animal Management course at the college.
The 11 students and their tutors visited Somkhanka Game reserve for the first week, where they saw many of the big cats and other animals in their natural habitat. Activities included tracking the animals, checking their health, and telemetry, which is population monitoring.
The students camped in the wilderness overnight, splitting into two groups during the day to partake in the different activities. Animal Management course tutork, Samantha, described how the reserve staff used the stars to navigate at night, ‘The sheer vulnerability of being in the reserve in the dark with the animal noises around you and just the stars to light the way was truly overwhelming’.
For the second part of the trip, the students visited Kosi Bay, a fishing town in SA, which is a link of four lakes in the KwaZulu-Natal area.
Here the students explored the local waters, being taught to fish with spears, and learning how the fishing traps supported the local people and their families.
The water in the bay is very clear, so when snorkelling the students could see the different varieties of fish that inhabit local waters, with a marine biologist on hand to explain the different species.
Samantha, course tutor, said ‘The river was so beautiful and the water was so see-through which made it even more special’.
The experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity for many of the students, and gave the class the opportunity to work as a team and raise awareness of the environment. Course tutor, Samantha, said ‘We are hoping to continually offer the trip to share these experiences with a new cohort of students’.
Animal Management courses are available at USP College in Benfleet and Grays, and are accepting applications for enrolment in September 2020.