This week was most certainly one for the lions, but more on that later.
Things have start heating up and the pressure is increasing (although there is a definite chill in the air in the mornings now). You might have noticed that our semesters and weeks keep getting busier and busier as the course progresses. Passing the half way mark of our course means there are always mixed emotions. An over whelming sense of relief as all the theoretical components are almost behind us, but this relief is quickly replaced with stress as it now comes down to putting the knowledge and skills gained into practice.
For the Mahlahla Students, this took the form of formative assessments (mock assessments as we call them) to give our students a fair rating as to where they stand practically and which areas needs fine tuning in the lead up to the all-important FGASA Level 1 assessments. What these assessments entail is to see if a student is competent to deliver a safe, informative and enjoyable three hour game drive while covering as much as possible (From mammals to astronomy , weather & climate and arthropods!). All the knowledge and practical skills gained from the very first lectures and game drives can be incorporated into an informative game drive, even if sightings of mammals might be scarce at times. As usual, when you aren’t looking – everything appears and we were spoilt for choice with some amazing sightings during the week.
Multiple sightings of elephants, ground hornbill and a brief but clear sighting of two honey badgers and a brown hyena out in the open! The whopper of the week was the amount of lion sightings, with a total of SIX different sightings between the two campuses. 4 of which were on kills and a mating pair on one occasion. Quite spectacular when high profile sightings were not the aim of the week!
For both campuses, Thursday morning distracted the focus off game drives to shooting. Yup you read right. There are also advanced rifle handling assessments’ coming up soon and after many many hours of practicing safe rifle handling, it was time to shoot a few live rounds with a bigger caliber for a change. For many of our students it is a first time firing any rifle and to start with a large caliber can be nerve wracking, so much so that some stop breathing while shooting. Remember boys and girls, the human brain needs oxygen to function! Overall, everyone demonstrated great skill before they move on to their mock ARH assessments (and then the real thing)
Whilst the Grietjie students were treated to a bird ringing exercise last week, the Mahlahla students ended this week off with an educational talk from the Reserve ecologist of the Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve, PhD candidate Audrey Delsink- Kettles. The topic was immuno-contraception, a valuable and effective method to control elephant populations on smaller enclosed game reserves in South Africa. Thank you for making time to come and see us Audrey.
Another great week of progress here at Bushwise. Well done ladies and gents, keep it up – the end goal is in sight.
To all of our students, staff, followers, families and friends – a Happy Easter for tomorrow, keep safe!
Until next time,
The Bushwise Team
(Thanks to Hannah Frame, Matthew Hopkins and Thomas Goldner for use of their pics!).