Heading to far-flung shores to get up close and personal with wildlife is the exciting prospect facing Hartpury animal students this week.
While college students have already headed off to the wilds of Borneo, our degree students on a range of animal sciences programmes go to Mankwe Wildlife Reserve in South Africa next week for their field trip.
In Borneo, students on the BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Animal Management will get the unique opportunity to see a wide range of indigenous species. On the 13-night trip, they will go on a night river cruise to see proboscis monkeys and fireflies, visit an orangutan sanctuary, experience a rainforest canopy walk and visit a local zoo.
They will also stay on the island where the television series 'Survivor' was filmed – Pulau Tiga – and go into a mud volcano there, visit natural hot springs and visit the cultural village 'Monsopiad' – once the home of a tribe of headhunters.
The trip is linked to the ecology and conservation unit of their course, including topics such as wildlife rehabilitation, animal adaptations, different ecosystems, plant life and cultural differences.
“This field trip is absolutely the best way for the students to bring what they learn in the classroom to life,” said Grace Watkins, Head of Department for Animal Management at Hartpury College.
“Everything they see and experience links into what they learn on their courses, including animal husbandry, animal accommodation and feeding. It’s an invaluable part of their learning journey.”
Next Monday, 18 degree students will head to Mankwe on the edge of Pilansburg National Park in the North West province for their 10-day field trip. They will be trained in a range of survey techniques, learn about the wildlife of the Africa bush and work closely with reserve staff to collect data.
They will also experience game drives during the day and night, foot safaris, take part in anti-poaching patrols and visit the National Park and the National Zoo at Pretoria.
Lucy Clarke, who is Subject Manager for Hartpury’s Animal and Land Science degree students, said: “Our students will have the unique opportunity to work alongside the reserve staff to get an in-depth insight into life on the reserve. It’s always fantastic to see the impact the trip has on them year after year, with many of them considering a career in conservation for the first time because of their experiences on the reserve.
“After last year’s trip, several of the students were so affected by the plight of the white rhino, whose population is severely declining due to illegal poaching activity, that they started a major fundraising effort. Others have since returned to complete work placements in South Africa.”
Many Hartpury animal students secure work placements in zoos and other wildlife and conservation settings in the UK and abroad while they are studying. They have gone on to become wildlife rangers, animal welfare officers, biodiversity field officers and laboratory and research technicians among many other careers.