Mixed emotions swam through camp last week as slowly but surely the students left to continue their lives after nearly 6 months of immersion in the pristine African Bushveld. Lifelong friendships have been forged by most and each and every one leave here with memories that will last for eternity. For us as trainers, it has also been a roller coaster week of emotions. There is something indescribable about watching your own flourish into competent and knowledgeable field guides. I do not have children but I assume this is what it must feel like when they fly the coup and enter the real world. There is a real feeling of loss, but having invested so much in each and every one, that the pride felt by us all is immeasurable and we wish them the utmost success in their future endeavours.
Parents of the students have also visited the campus and in a few cases, their respective children have been able to take them on a game drive in the Greater Makalali Reserve to show off the knowledge and skills that have been learned. It is a special feeling to be a part of such an event and the pride radiating from proud parents’ faces is hard to ignore!
A few students remained behind however, choosing to enjoy the last week or so without the looming pressure of exams and assessments, before commencing their placement period. With only limited numbers on camp, the door has been opened to various opportunities that would have been impossible with a large group. Earlier in the week, the students were fortunate enough to attend a local breeding farm and get their hands dirty darting, measuring and relocating various animals. During the course of the morning 6 buffalo cows were tranquilized so that their horns could be measured, pregnancy tests could be run and DNA samples taken. To get up close and personal with Africa’s ‘Black Death’ is a humbling experience and is a memory that will live long for all involved. 3 sable bulls were also darted and ultimately relocated to the Bushwise campus! It was a privilege to be involved and we would like to extend a huge thank you to Sophie Niemann (Director of Bushwise) and her husband Roelof, for their hospitality!!
Another highlight experienced during the week was a day trip to the Lekgalameetse reserve in the Wolkberg mountain range, which constitutes a northern subrange of the Drakensberg. 18,000 hectares of untouched wilderness became the students’ playground for the day as they relished in exploring the forest and grassland ecosystems not available during the majority of the Bushwise course. The dense forest is home to a variety of specialized bird species and all of the students (and trainers!) were able to add to their life lists during the day. The remainder of the morning was spent climbing waterfalls and identifying the myriad of butterflies that flourish in their tropical surroundings. Lunch was enjoyed on top of the mountains with 360 degree views that would make the cast of Lord of the Rings swoon!
With only a week to go before the official end of the course, more fun activities have been planned for the remaining few but for those that have already embarked on their placements, all of us at Bushwise wish you the best of luck in your new paths! We look forward to hearing how you are getting along and insist that you keep us up to date of all your amazing adventures!!
Ben & The Bushwise Team