For the fifth successful year running, we had 15 high school students from AAEC Early College High Schools from Arizona in the U.S.A, join us here at Ulovane Reserve over the last four days. They travelled under the guidance of Dr Rice, Shari, Cody and Jeremy. A VERY BIG THANK YOU must go to Dr Rice and the A.A.E.C school for their donation of an incredible Laboratory microscope to Ulovane campus. We are so very grateful for this thoughtful gift and will make such good use of it.
During this programme, the students are either at the end of their college or high school year and are given the opportunity to travel to South Africa to work with renowned wildlife vet Dr William Fowlds and his team from Ikhala Veterinary Clinic, participating in veterinary practices on South African wildlife. They spend the first part of their 10-day trip here with us at Ulovane to learn about wildlife management, conservation practices, and general flora and fauna around us before beginning their tutorials with Dr Fowlds.
The students went on some exciting game drives with Ulovane trainers, and boy were they treated by our to some Amakhala Game Reserve magic, with a lion AND cheetah sighting in their first drive, not to mention a real treat of seeing some hippo out the water on one of the night drives home!!
On Wednesday, a glorious day on the beach saw the group visiting Dias Cross Memorial in Boknesstrand, Canon Rocks. The walk is about 4km in total, but it was filled with exploration and guidance from Schalk and Koen on the incredible things found along our southern African coastline; including THE MOST amazing find – a Paper Nautilus shell. This is the shell from a group of pelagic octopuses, the name Paper Nautilus referring to the paper-thin egg case that females secrete. A VERY rare thing to find, completely intact too!! Albeit a tiring walk, the students all thoroughly enjoyed being out and were mesmerised by the view from Dias Cross.
We said goodbye to the group yesterday morning after a final morning game drive by Schalk and Melissa, after which the whole group were dropped off at Safari Lodge on Amakhala Game Reserve to begin the last and very exciting leg of their journey with Dr William Fowlds.
Some things the group have left us fond memories of; in American terms, it’s “Ketchup, fries, and soda goes for anything fizzy!!”. We were even taught a traditional country dance from Arizona called “Fishing in the Dark”! Perhaps this shall become part of Ulovane traditions in future too!
It was a whirlwind, fun and exciting time with everybody! We hope they loved their time with us as much as we enjoyed ours with them.
- Melissa Gomes