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    Monday morning of our fourth semester at Bushwise started with the much-dreaded but entirely necessary campus cleanup after a relaxing off-week. Prior to the afternoon game drives, students capitalized on the early summer heat to enjoy some pool time while also taking in first hand the egg-laying behavior of toads.

    As opposed to frogs, which lay eggs in clumps, toads lay eggs in strings. Looks like we’ll be sharing the pool with Eastern olive toads for a little while! During the evening game drive, our students experienced yet another beautiful South African sunset. Does anything compare to the majesty of a giraffe’s silhouette against the day’s last rays?

    A few of our international students headed into Hoedspruit on Tuesday morning in pursuit of the highly-coveted Professional Drivers Permit (PDP). The balance of the students met up in the afternoon at Safari Wine Club to learn about and experience South African wines as part of our hospitality training. Special thanks to Amanda for providing insight into the history of wine making in South Africa as well as for the wine tasting!

    On Wednesday morning we completed one of our final practical exams, which comprised the identification by sight and/or sound of 25 frogs and toads, 20 snakes, 20 lizards, and 80 insects and spiders. As the students individually reflect on their time here at Bushwise, one common theme is the recognition of just how far we’ve come in a few short months. In the afternoon we participated in a hospitality-focused training led by Sharin followed by an astronomy lesson by Ben after sunset.

    The trainers conducted a campus tree walk on Thursday morning in advance of our botany practical the following day. Central to identifying fauna are the unique diagnostic features of each plant or tree, and there’s no one better to provide this insight than our trainers. The highlight of the day actually occurred after dark, when we traveled to Makutsi Private Reserve to go ‘frogging’. The students were divided into pairs and frolicked in a small pond in pursuit of catching and properly identifying various species of frogs and toads. We returned to camp muddy and wet, with huge smiles on our faces.

    On Friday morning we completed our botany practical, which was conducted afield in Makalali Private Reserve and comprised the identification of 55 species of flowers, plants, and trees. It was equal parts difficult and rewarding; we all fared well and walked away with a deeper knowledge of one of the key components of our delicate ecosystem. The balance of the day was set aside for self-study, as we sat for our mock FGASA exam on Saturday morning in advance of the ‘real deal’ next week.

    With another  week in the books, we’re one step closer to our goal of becoming certified field guides!

    Blog by Juan Carlos Alonso