The final week of Semester 1 already! On Tuesday evening, with land rovers and cruisers alike packed up with sleeping bags, roll mats and students, we headed out to Makalali for a much-anticipated sleepout. Our first camp out in a big 5 reserve territory. On the way there we had a chance to watch a pair of black-backed jackals on an evening hunt and I had the chance to snap some lovely silhouette pictures of giraffe grudgingly accepting a clean from a few persistent red-billed oxpeckers.
As the sun went down over our camp, a few hyenas wandered past, evidently curious about the ‘new residents’ in their territory. Other than their brief visit again in the early morning and a couple of noisy bush babies, the night went by very peacefully. Allowing us to take in the beauty of the stars and the peace of sleeping in nature with the knowledge that those on lookout duty were keeping us safe. For a few of us, a highlight of the night was discovering the effectiveness of our UV ‘scorpion torches’ which allowed us to check wood over for the little guys before we took it away for firewood.
Over the next couple of days, we all put our noses to the grindstone, revising extra hard for our practical test on Friday afternoon. We were all tested on our ability to recognize and name the surrounding species of grass and trees and identify the spoor and dung of various animals as indicated to us by our instructors. As the sunset at the end of the test, it also brought us to an end of the final week of our first semester here at Bushwise.
Now that we have finished semester one, we have a chance to slow down and take in the wildlife surrounding us on campus. Varying from the foam nest tree frogs that keep us company in the classroom as we work, to the Sable, Duiker, and Ostrich that regularly visit the dam.
For the South Africans, this break is an opportunity to visit family and friends back home, while the International students tackle the SA learner driver licenses in order to later try to pass the South African driving license. Regardless of nationality, this is an opportunity to absorb all that we have learned this semester. Whilst the break is much needed after our brains have been filled to the brim over the course thus far, I am sure that we are all greatly looking forward to the next installments we have waiting for us in our next semester.
Blog & photos by Georgina Stewart