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And so the third semester has begun! It is always good to hear all the stories and tales from the week off. Some students went home, some slightly more adventurous, went down to the coast, but most preferred to visit Kruger National Park, where they got to practice some more of their “animal spotting abilities”, and yes, it paid off! The stories we heard sound very exciting – from elephants to lion, and the always popular to see wild dog and leopard! Although not everyone got to see these elusive cats, other highlights included other rare cats, such as caracal.

A well-deserved off week indeed! And just in time as this semester looks like it’s going to be the busiest one so far!  This week the Grietjie students were welcomed back to camp by Lions and Elephants during their drive in. Topics covered in detail included Amphibians and arthropods with some planned walks. Amphibians were followed up with a frogging session, starting outside camp. Upon return to the lecture room, they noticed that an elephant bull had replaced them at the water hole, good timing! A nearby dam provided a few new species added onto student’s list of identified species. It was also the Grietjie Students turn to go to Kruger for their educational talk on the management of Kruger. Always a great outing!

Meanwhile, back at Mahlahla, students covered Weather and Climate, Biomes and Astronomy, which was followed by an unsuccessful astronomy practical during a night drive  (unsuccessful due to very dense cloud cover). However, there is always something to see and learn and the night drive produced a nice lion sighting, as well as typical nocturnal animals such as porcupine, genet and civet. Students did a few game drives as well, which finally provided leopard sightings, and not just one, but two sightings! As well as more lions, elephant and a new mammal species was added to students lists.

Time not spent in lectures or on game drives, were spent practicing for the upcoming Rifle handling assessments, getting used to the exercise requirements and building  vitally important muscle memory.

All this in one week! All we can say is this is just the beginning. Everyone has slowly started preparing themselves for the upcoming birding week, and the challenge between groups has been set, but keep an eye out for next week’s blog for the outcome!

Until next week,

The Bushwise Team 

(Thanks to Tracey Bruton for allowing the use of some of her photos for this week’s blog).