Student Trip to South Africa Enhances Conservation and Ecology Skills

As part of their studies at the University of Lincoln, students from the School of Life Sciences visited Mankwe wildlife reserve in South Africa in June 2018.

During their stay, the group of staff and students were able to explore the stunning South African landscape whilst carrying out scientific research on the health, behaviour, welfare, conservation and ecology of the wildlife in this biodiversity hotspot.

In the beautiful and fragile ecosystem of Mankwe, students and staff worked alongside a group of  local community-level conservationists. Throughout their trip, students learnt and developed field and identification skills as well as finding out about reserve management and anti-poaching strategies.  In addition, they were able to apply skills and knowledge gained during their degree programme to develop a self-driven research project on an aspect of animal health, behaviour and/or ecology.

Mankwe is a 4750 hectare reserve in the North West Province of South Africa, approximately 5km east of Pilanesberg National Park. The accommodation is a selection of safari tents, wooden cabins and a clinker brick chalet at the Waterbuck camp, where students have the opportunity to experience a true bush adventure. There are no fences so students live among the wildlife.

To find out more information about the School of Life Sciences Overseas Field Trips, click here.

Students visit South Africa for a Life Sciences field trip

Two students from University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences relive their field trip of a life time to South Africa.


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Life Science students got the opportunity to visit Mankwe for 10 days to learn more about conservation, wildlife and the environment. The School of Life Sciences field trips aim to give students an understanding of how their classroom work and skills can be applied to real-life conservation. Whilst on the field trip, students undertook identification tests of animals and plant species, with a data collection and essay counting towards 70% of the module.

Two students, Chantell Payton and Charlotte Briddon share their once in a lifetime experience with us. From identifying plants and animal species, to tracking animals and going on anti-poaching patrols, the students were given a first-hand insight into the country’s rhino poaching crisis.

They even got the chance to see a White Rhino up close in the wild, which was an amazing experience they’ll ‘never forget’.

Chantell said: “It was a harrowing experience to hear about their poaching problems with the rhinos, and how they are likely to be extinct in around 10 years. Then to hear about the ethical and political disagreements with legalising the trade of rhino horn and ivory.”

Bioveterinary student Charlotte said: “The most memorable part of the trip for me, was learning about the Rhino Poaching Crisis and the extent to which it affects the lives of the workers there, and knowing that while I was there I helped through the anti-poaching patrols.

“A talk about the poaching crisis was eye-opening, and raised so many questions about educating the public on the medicinal properties of rhino horn, but also about the extent to which poachers will go to obtain the rhino horn.”

Students took a trip to the University of Pretoria where they examined models of animal veins, muscles and nerves in a pathology lab. They also got to look at a range of preserved foetuses for giraffes, canines, monkeys, horses, and many others.

Chantell explained: “We got the chance to look at the clinical veterinary testing they do, ranging from blood labs to viruses. We also got an impressive talk from one of their lecturers who deals with rehabilitation of rhinos that have been poached and have severe wounds on their face from the horn removal, and the types of experimental methods they use to aid the healing and rehabilitation of the rhinos.”

For Bioveterinary Science, the first year module of animal anatomy, and the second year module of animal nutrition, students were taught the theory aspect of the 4 chambered stomach in ruminants. Being able to see an antelope dissection really complimented the course.

Whilst there was a lot of work, you can’t go to South Africa without a safari trip to Pilansberg National Park.

From giraffe, to elephants, crocodiles, cheetah’s and their cubs, to lioness and their pride, students got to see so many animals running free.

Chantell added: “There was one amazing moment in particular when the sun was beginning to set and we were at the watering hole, then a herd of elephants with a calf came from the distance.”

Charlotte said: “Overall it was such a memorable experience, and I’m so glad I got the chance to go to Mankwe reserve, I wish I could go again with the university next year!”

Life after Lincoln’s Animal Behaviour Welfare course

From hand-raising cheetah cubs to caring for grown lions, Animal Behaviour and Welfare alumni Thomas Trew takes his University of Lincoln degree all the way to Africa.

atheno walk

Read his story here:

“I went straight to Namibia where I volunteered for a month at Harnas Wildlife Foundation. I cared for and rehabilitated injured and orphaned animals. It was a very hands on approach where I was able to interact with and have some incredible, very personal experiences with many different species of African wildlife.

Missy Jo

“From hand-raising cheetah cubs that were orphaned after a farmer shot their mother (being a few days old they were far too young to fend for themselves and would have died in the wild) and sharing a bed with baby Chacma baboons which cling on close to you at night as they fear the dark (or more accurately the vulnerability of being in the dark); to caring for fully grown cheetahs, leopards and lions.

“I also helped with radio tracking successfully reintroduced cheetahs in the wild, to keep updated on their health and welfare. There were a great many things I did whilst there, and I came back with a lot of stories and a wealth of memories and experiences that will stay with me for life.

baby cheetah ELVISSSSSS

“I was hoping to go back out to Namibia to work at Harnas as a co-ordinator for volunteers, however due to a change in management my plans fell through and I wasn’t given the position. However I stayed determined to return to Africa, just with a different goal.

“I decided that whilst I loved the hands-on experience of wildlife conservation, the effects of my work were limited to the animals in my immediate vicinity; if I wanted to make a bigger difference, I had to work on a bigger scale. So I’ve decided to go down the path of Conservation scientific research.

Thomas' colleague Monique and cheetah, Max
Thomas’ colleague Monique and cheetah, Max

Thomas has been successful in a job search and will be heading back out to Africa as a Project Manager and Research Assistant in the Guassa mountains of Ethiopia.

He will be conducting behavioural and ecological research on Gelada baboons in a year-long project.

“During my time in Ethiopia I will be camping in the mountains the Gelada baboons inhabit at around 3600m above sea level. The research I am conducting is part of an ongoing project that is run by Dr. Peter J. Fashing and Dr. Nga Nguyen, both professors at California state University, Fullerton.