A group of Northumberland College students have completed a trip to South Africa as part of their animal management studies.
Twenty-five students, accompanied by two members of staff, spent 12 days in South Africa, visiting two huge conservation reserves and South Africa’s largest wetlands area, which is also a World Heritage site.
The students – studying a Level 3 extended diploma in animal management; a foundation degree (FdSC) in animal management or a degree (BSc) in animal management – also visited Cusco, the oldest city in the Americas and another World Heritage site, and Manu National Park. They were involved in community projects and charity work throughout their trip.
Leah O’Callaghan, lecturer and programme leader for animal management, said: “It was a privilege to visit the games reserves and our students represented the college well with their dedication, professionalism and commitment to every task they were given. We’re so proud of them and hopefully the trip convinces them to go down the wildlife conservation route.
“Everyone we met in South Africa was incredibly kind and knowledgeable and the team at KwaZulu-Natal have offered to do masterclasses and talks to students at Kirkley Hall Campus about conservation in the real world.”
Students visited the Zulu Land Conservation Project inside the Nambiti Game Reserve. Within the 23,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness, the students were taught and worked alongside the field guides and Nambiti conversation team, exploring topics such as elephant and rhino monitoring; use of telemetry tracking; alien vegetation control and visits to local communities.
The students were also be given their own bespoke research assignment.
From Nambiti, the students moved on to the Zingela Wildlife Reserve where they had the opportunity to help with research on a pristine African bush veld while also ID tracking a migrating giraffe as well as reptile and amphibian monitoring.
The students’ last destination was the St Lucia Wetlands, a World Heritage site famous for its populations of crocodiles and hippos where they enjoyed some humpback whale watching.
Lee Lister, Vice Principal at Northumberland College, said: “South Africa is a world leader in conservation, so there are few better places – if any – for our students to study animal management, or to explore biodiversity.
“And as our students did in Peru last year, our students in South Africa were involved in projects to help and support local communities in the areas they’re visited.
“These international visits provide a brilliant opportunity and are especially important for some students who have never been lucky enough to travel overseas. Many students have their horizons broadened to see the possibilities in global career conservation.”
The college’s Level 2 FE students also undertake an annual European residential trip – last year students travelled to the Netherlands to observe and compare how captive animal management there differs from the UK.
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