Happy Easter blog-followers! Another week down and time seems to be flying past. With Easter weekend already upon us, the prospect of being set free in to the real guiding world is looming and with every day we grow more attached to the cosy buffer that is our wonderful trainers and midday dips in the pool.
This week was History and Conservation week. It’s easy to imagine that the many game reserves in the area have always been the way they are, so learning about the rollercoaster of events that has led us to this day was fascinating. On hearing that the area used to be filled with gold and diamonds we all tried to resist the urge to rush out and start panning, and instead discovered that once the gold dried up the area became a mining centre for mica and feldspar. The local people then turned their hand to farming and this, combined with excessive hunting, led to the demise of much of the ecosystems in the area. So, lucky for us, in the 1980’s the farms dropped their fences and agreed to regenerate the area to its former glory. And so Greater Makalali was born! We even found some remnants from the past on a drive!
Conservation is obviously something dear to all of our hearts. To prove that all good causes start at home we were tasked with some conservation work of our own on campus this week: with heavy rains comes a lovely full dam, and some not-so-lovely snake-ridden long, thick grass which seemed to be engulfing the whole of campus. If not stopped we were worried it might swallow us all whole! This meant one thing – 3 hours of bush clearing in the African sun. Not deterred by the prospect of snakes and hayfever we set about hacking and digging, laden with spades, rakes and wheelbarrows. As all good students do, we also saw the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the grass species we need to know for our practical. There’s nothing like wrestling a plant for 3 hours to never forget which species it is! Our effort paid off and we now have a snake-free kitchen area and main gate.
And some freshly cut grass specimens to study…
Another egg-citing part of this week came on Tuesday when those of us doing a placement made our way to Phalaborwa to take the infamous HGV driving test. The majority of us, having been driving in our respective countries for many years, did not let the irony of driving ourselves to a practical driving test escape us. However, 13 years of driving experience did not prepare me for the lorry I was meant to manoeuvre in to seemingly miniscule spaces. But, a hop, skip and a jump later (or a hill start, reverse park and a trip round the block!) and we all passed! We can all breath a huge sigh of relief as this, along with our much anticipated PDP licenses, means we are now official South African drivers and can legally host paying guests on our game viewers. After this and 4×4 week we should now have all the skills we need to keep the Cruisers and Landies on the roads of whichever reserve will be brave enough to take us.
With this busy week coming to an end we were all rewarded with copious amounts of Easter chocolate courtesy of fellow student Jack Potter. Unfortunately a ‘bush Easter egg hunt’ is not viable as chocolate and 35 degrees doesn’t mix (or mixes too well!).
Happy Easter one and all!
Blog by Amy Villis