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The first semester has come to an end, with a full week of activities. Monday morning saw the completion of the astronomy lecture – learning all about the constellations and of course the interesting different mythologies such as Greek, Roman, and African, surrounding different stars and planets. Perhaps one of the most well know myths is from Greek mythology of ‘Orion the Mighty Hunter’, hunting all the animals on Earth to show off to the Seven Sisters (Pleiades), until he was stung in the foot by a scorpion (Scorpius). Until this day, Scorpius is still chasing Orion through the night skies (orbital rotation). For me, these myths help to animate the night skies, with an almost child-like imagination needed, every inch of the sky forms different pictures and scenes. This is certainly where my interest of astronomy was formed, hopefully after the lecture, our students feel the same way.

A sleepout on the reserve was planned for the afternoon – the first sleepout of the course. After all the rains, finding a dry area to set up camp was challenging, but eventually the camp area was found. Half the group was left to set up camp, whilst the other half went on a short bush walk. A short astronomy practical was done (no better place than in the middle of the bush in complete darkness!), with further practicals with the telescope planned throughout the course. Two hyenas visited the camp site throughout the night, elephants were nearby and lions were heard calling in the distance – all adding to the ‘ambience’ as stories were told around the camp fire. As a special mention, Rachel Greenwood from the GVI Cape Town office joined us for the sleepout (and the week), on a site visit. Rachel it was great having you here, we hope to see you soon!

Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon Taxonomy and Ecology lectures were done, as well as survival and navigation, with a practical. Always fun to see the determination (competition) between different groups trying to find North when lost, or collecting water!

The rest of the week was filled with game drives – the focus being on trees, but the sightings are always a bonus. The sighting to remember was one of a very relaxed Elephant bull, as seen in the photo. Massive in size, this guy casually ignored our vehicle, eating away, throwing a few trees around to get to ‘the good stuff’, allowing us an amazing 25 minutes with him before he strolled off in a different direction.

This morning we went on a bush walk, tracking elephants and lions. Although neither were found, it’s always great to be on foot in a reserve – to truly appreciate the finer aspects of the bush.

Most of our students are heading off to the Joburg and Durban areas for their week off, with a few staying at base to complete their learners test. Travel safely ladies and gents, and for those of you writing your learners – good luck!

Until next time,

Charles and the Bushwise Team