I left South Africa and the game reserve on July 18. The last week, and my entire time there, was amazing and I miss it already. During our last week we did a lot of road repair, enjoyed another breakfast at the lodge, and had a massage in town before and a few fantastic braais. Eda gave me a lot of her photos, but the USB I put them on isn’t working so hopefully I can convince her to email them to me…there are a lot of them and they are large files though, so we’ll see.
Kim, who is one of the people running the volunteer program, wanted me to go on a game drive before I wrote my final exam for my field guiding course. We’d been driving around every morning and seeing all of the animals but it was interesting to get a different perspective on it by having a field guide. It helped quite a bit actually. I wrote my exam the night after the game drive, and it had lots of theory questions which we learned in class but there were quite a few practical questions as well. I recieved my results a few days later, they are quick markers, and passed with 83%. So I just have to register with DEAT and I can be a South Africa field guide.
We also did a night game drive, so we were able to see the animals at night which was really interesting. We saw lots of rabbits and were hoping to spot some porcupines, but they were all hiding. We did a rifle handing course. We shot a .22, 308 and a 410. It was a lot of fun. I still have bad aim, but my grouping is good so hooray for small victories.
My favourite animals were the cheetahs. I have pretty much decided that my masters or PhD project will involve conservation genetics, but I would love to work with cheetahs as well. They are very interesting genetically as they went through a population bottleneck, meaning at one point there were very few left so they are all very similar genetically. This poses a problem as low genetic diversity can lead to many problems in a population. For example, if a disease were to enter the population it would likely affect all individuals.
I loved all of the animals though, and although Canada is beautiful and I’m happy to see my family and friends I am really missing South Africa!
My plan as of now is to finish my biology degree, I graduate in December, and then head back to South Africa. If I can find a job I would really like to work as a field guide for about a year before beginning my masters or PhD.
I’m in Princeton until Tuesday when I leave for Bamfield then I will be back in Kelowna in September, so see everybody then!