Two and a half years ago I spent six months as an intern at GVI Karongwe on their conservation program, six amazing months spent living and learning in the South African Bushveld. I loved it, I learnt new skills, met some fantastic people and had some amazing sightings of the iconic African animals, both big and small.
From the unusually relaxed herd of elephants on the reserve, which is a very humbling experience if they allow you into their space, there is an enigmatic intelligence behind those eyes.
To the incredibly rare and endangered pangolin I was lucky enough to see, much to the chagrin of the base manager at the time who has still yet to see one. Pangolins are so rare because they are one of the most poached animals in the world, illegally poached for their scales which is falsely believed to have medicinal properties. They are made of keratin just like our fingernails and hair, which is also what a rhino’s horn is made of!
I did not want to leave by the end of the six months, as I’d found myself a home living in the bush surrounded by nature. However, several of the staff there encouraged me to pursue my passion through Bushwise Field Guides, as they themselves had trained there.
Fast forward to now, after hard work and saving up, I am sat writing this in the Bushwise classroom on Mahlahla campus surrounded by the bush once more! One month into the year long course it’s been intensive study so far but an incredibly enjoyable learning experience.
Its summer here and with that are a lot of potentially dangerous, but beautiful, insects and reptiles, such as a Puff Adder that was found by the pool here after some stormy weather!
With each practical drive we go on, old knowledge from my time at GVI resurfaces and is added to thanks to the experience of the trainers here and being able to immerse my self in the sights and sounds of the bushveld once again. I will leave you with this, living in the bush isn’t for everyone, its not always comfortable and you can’t just pop out to the shops or relax on a sofa. But when a kudu horn is sounded to call you for dinner and a family of jackals howl back from the darkness in response, for me it doesn’t get any better.
Blog & photos by current student, Jack Broadley