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    And so, last week, we entered into the third week of the semester with temperatures soaring into the high 30’s without much expectation of rain. Notwithstanding this, student spirits are high as the much anticipated tracking week was about to commence.

    The week kicked off with the Grietjie students starting their track & sign course, but more about that in a short while as the Mahlahla students started the week off on slightly different timings before starting their track and sign course last week Wednesday.

    For the Mahlahla students, the first two days of last week begun with a rifles lecture and DVD, highlighting the always interesting but equally important ways and means of handling a firearm safely and responsibly. This followed by lectures on Arthropods and Amphibians, and finally an afternoon game drive with focus on trying to find frogs and toads, however without much success as the lack of rain over the last few months has left precious little water bodies for these unfortunate creatures to present adequate opportunities to view them. The game drive was not all doom and gloom though, as students were rewarded with a two male lion sighting with their ever blood curdling roaring echoing around our vehicles.

    So back to the fun part of the week….

    Last week saw students becoming intimate with the finer nuances and skills required in order to identify tracks and signs of animals (and inanimate objects) as “Tracking week” had arrived. Despite the scorching heat on the first day, students eagerly became familiar with ‘Trackers knee’, and the value of sufficient water supplies whilst out in the dust bowl! As the saying goes, Africa is not for the feint hearted, thus preparation is half the battle won.

    Days that followed were seemingly endlessly devoted to identifying tracks of birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, man and machines (much to several individuals demise) but all in a day’s work as the ultimate goal, which is to achieve a track and sign qualification, is in sight.

    Forcing your mind to concentrate on the smaller things such as tracks, tends to focus one’s mind to other aspects of the bush such as bird calls, scrapings left behind by some animals,  territorial making signs and dung. Definitely a mind-opening experience!

    Thankfully, the weather cooled and we have even had a little rain (and a few wet students!). 

    Today the track and sign course starts wrapping up with final assessments for the Mahlahla students, whilst the Grietjie student assessments are soon to follow. Best of luck and stay focussed ladies and gents, and you will be amazed at what you will achieve on assessment day when it all comes together!

    Until Next Time,

    The Bushwise Team