Week 4 Botany & Tracking
We started this week off by doing a morning drive and an afternoon drive on Amakhala Game Reserve. The main focus of the drives was botany – trees, shrubs, forbs, wildflowers, and grasses. The best of that experience was when we learned all the different uses of an Acacia sweet thorn.
We had botany lessons during the week which were quite interesting lectures to attend, I very much enjoyed the “cool” presentations that were used during the lectures. Being part of the fun where we each had to make something from a plant that we found in the veld and present it to our fellow students how the plants can be used such as for medicinal uses or practical uses and then selling your end product to the other students and lecturers.
We had a tracking class with Pieter, I never knew there were such a huge variety of tracks, never mind the animals… WOW.
Every Saturday we have a Sustainable living morning, divided into groups with different tasks like helping in the veggie garden and building a new braai, even putting together an aardvark skeleton which I am a part of. Learning new skills every day from driving big vehicles on rough roads to patience has been great.
The days can get quite hot here at this time of the year and feels never-ending, but then the sun sets and the heat is driven out by the night and we are able to enjoy its beautiful stars and majestic attraction.
I was so moved by being able to witness a full life-size brown hyena during one of the night drives. Obviously, there was lightning before the thunder, when we were hit by a major storm almost blowing me away… AAAHHHH….
For me personally, it was thrilling to learn so much about the soil and the plants and trees that you can appreciate all of nature and how all of it works and support each other. We are all only small droplets in all of creation. We need to respect and help to protect it so that future generations can appreciate what all of us have.
“There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.” – Deepak Chopra.
Week 5 – Look alive!
I have no idea where to start. This past week has been absolutely amazing. I learned a lot of new things about nature, the environment, and myself.
My outstanding moment of this week was when we went on a game drive to look for some Arthropods, I was on the tracker seat on the front of the game drive vehicle and really wanted to see the Addo Flightless Dung Beetle. We ended up driving a road we have never driven on before and I spotted a black dot on some elephant dung. We stopped to have a look at it and saw that there was not one, but three dung beetles! I was so excited to see them as they are pretty scarce.
I learned that insects and spiders are not that bad. I have a big phobia of them, so me looking for them was challenging. I eventually learned that they are actually really interesting creatures and that they are an important link within the environment. I also learned a lot about amphibians and fish which were the other 2 modules that we focused on this week. We went looking for some frogs and toads but unfortunately couldn’t find any as there is a drought here at the moment. We did find some toad eggs which was something new for most of us.
I have learned a lot about myself this past week. I never thought that I would be able to conduct a game drive on my own, but I did, yes it wasn’t great, but I am still learning from my mistakes. I learned that I should be more confident in the knowledge that I have and that I should not doubt myself so much. Happiness is something that can be found in the smallest things and being out here in the bush at Ulovane taught me a lot about my capabilities and what actually goes on in nature. It taught me that life can be tough sometimes, but it will always get better. The people here at Ulovane taught me a lot and I’m grateful to be here to learn from each and every one of them.
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” – Joseph Campbell.
EVERY JOURNEY BEGINS WITH A BRAND-NEW DAY
I arrived 5 weeks ago and had no idea what to expect at Ulovane Environmental training! I was welcomed to my new home by many friendly faces and smiles. Let me take you through my journey over the past 5 weeks.
On my first bush walk with the trails guides students, I was so nervous as it was my first big 5 bush walk but it was very special to be able to see things from a different perspective, especially all the animals’ tracks that we came across.
Conducting game drives by myself was definitely nerve-wracking but I learned a lot while being in the driver’s seat myself and we were lucky to have many beautiful sightings throughout the week such as the tiniest tortoise I have ever come across – an angulate tortoise – many jackal families as well as different birds that we have learned since being here.
It has been great to witness the diversity of so many different animals that interact with one another on Amakhala Game Reserve. Sitting and watching these animals while the sun goes down behind them was definitely a sighting I will remember for a very long time.
We were also lucky enough to come across the female cheetah with her 2 cubs. We were so surprised to find them as they jumped up from being behind the bush as we drove past them, not sure who got more of a fright – us or them! It was great to see the cubs playing around with each other.
The highlight of the week was when all the field guides joined the trails guides for a mock tracking assessment. We learned so much about tracks while we were out with them, it really opened my eyes to a new aspect of nature. I was so happy while learning these tracks, I can’t wait to learn more.
We spent a full day out on Amakhala searching for different arthropods out in the field as this was one of our subjects that we were focusing on this week. We were very successful, finding all sorts of different beetles and insects during our search.
It has been a busy, incredibly rewarding 5 weeks and I am loving it! I cannot wait to see what the next half of this course holds!
“We inhabit a universe that is characterized by diversity.”- Desmond Tutu.