South Africa Diaries: Reflection

During my time in South Africa, I noticed that my animal tracking skills greatly improved. I am now able to confidently identify many different southern African animals using things like their spoor, scat and calls, as well as using clues from other animals, such as baboon alarm calls, to detect predators in the area. I am much more able to identify an animal by its size and general appearance, and I feel that these skills developed a lot faster than I thought they would. However, it isn’t just my animal knowledge that I feel has improved. I wasn’t expecting to gain such in depth plant knowledge on the trip, and really feel like I can identify many South African tree species based on their characteristics. The trip has also given me a much greater appreciation for birds and antelope species in particular.

Being able to interact with a variety of people who work in the sector in different ways such as safari guides, game reserve owners, wildlife reserve managers, scientific researchers, leopard biologists and a National Geographic cameraman, proved to be very beneficial in my understanding of global ecology and conservation, and allowed me to understand opinions for all points of views. I learned that conservation is not a clear-cut subject and that there are lots of positive and negative factors for each and every practice. For example, before the trip I thought that trophy hunting was completely wrong and that it should not be practiced if trying to conserve a species. However, Alan taught me that if trophy hunting is carried out sustainably, then it can actually prove beneficial towards the survival of a species. Money made from hunting the weaker and sick individuals can be used to increase the quality of life for the rest of the population, as well as enable the reserve to keep running.

Overall, I really enjoyed my trip to South Africa, and have learned a lot valuable knowledge and understanding, particularly in global ecology and conservation, that I hope I can put to good use in the future.

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