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The Conservation Ecology program is designed for students and professionals interested in gaining acute knowledge of conservation ecology in Southern Africa. The program is structured around experiential learning; participants will be exposed to policy and practical components of conservation ecology, including invasive species eradication, re-introduction of indigenous flora and fauna, controlled fire techniques, wildlife re-introdcution and management and more.
Through experiential group work, participants will gain a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and techniques facing conservation ecologists in the Garden Route region of South Africa. Addressing both marine and terrestrial biodiversity management, we will have workshops with professionals in the field. The field work component varies depending on the time of year and the need – past field work has included re-introducing a zoo elephant into the wild and darting and tagging cheetahs.
This program will be held in June, the beginning of the South African winter – the perfect time to see wildlife and carry out activities in the field. Students will spend part of their time on game reserves and part of their time in other areas rich with ecological biodiversity in the Garden Route region.
The program is geared towards students interested in conservation ecology and wildlife management. The minimum age requirement is 18. This three-week program is divided into three modules: Marine biology, terrestrial biology, and an independent research project.
My week spent on Gondwana Game Reserve with Conservation Global was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I was fortunate enough to travel to South Africa with Franklin University Switzerland on academic travel in the spring of 2015. Bonding with the staff and learning about the animals in their natural environment made for one incredible week. Each day was filled with activities and lectures that were as entertaining as they were educational. As a group we had a lecture in the morning either from a member of the knowledge staff or from a local expert. We learned about native bee populations and were treated to honey samples from the region and were given a demonstration on the practice of tagging and tracking animals on the reserve. Perhaps the most memorable was when we were taught how to properly handle a tranquilizer gun and had a competition to see who could get a bullseye! After the morning lecture, the group would split up for the safari in which the staff took great care to make sure we saw as many animals as possible. Later in the afternoon we would regroup for a drink and to admire the scenery. I have the utmost respect for Conservation Global and the work they are doing—hoping to return to South Africa soon!
Conservation Global organized a dually educational and adventurous experience across South Africa. As a student I was able to learn more about apartheid and its effects on the nation from prominent political leaders. Also, I was able to better understand the needs and efforts of conservationists across the area to protect some of the worlds most endangered animals. From finding dolphins in the Indian Ocean, cage diving with great whites, and spotting lions on the game reserve, this experience reestablished the necessity in myself to protect our wild lands across the globe. If we do not protect them, who will?