'Once-in-a-lifetime' trip as students visit South African nature reserve
- Credit: East Coast College
Students enjoyed a "once-in-a-lifetime" trip to a South African nature reserve as their studies went international.
Nine Level 2 and 3 students on East Coast College's animal care course set up camp last month at the UmPhafa Nature Reserve, a 6,000-hectacre site where they took part in animal studies, game counts, reserve maintenance, field patrols, data collection and night drives.
The college, which has campuses in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, was selected as one of 120 educational facilities for funding from the Turing Scheme, giving young people the opportunity to work and study abroad.
Helene Quin, curriculum manager at the college, said: "The trip truly was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our animal care students which will enrich and enhance their learning with us and beyond into their next steps.
“All of the students displayed determination and passion and I was overwhelmed by their knowledge and deep desire to learn as much as they could.
"They embraced every opportunity to learn and participate in all aspects of work on the reserve and I am extremely proud that our college was able to offer such a fantastic opportunity to our students."
The group experienced a night drive where they were able to spot chameleons, owls, a leopard, and waterbucks, and set up camera traps to film a female leopard and her cubs.
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They also worked together to pull a waterbuck from the water to stop it polluting the water source for the other animals and took down a bird hide ready for it to be rebuilt in a new location.
Student Phoebe Last said: “I loved every minute of this very inspiring trip, it was incredible.
"I enjoyed learning about the African culture, being around so many wonderful animals and experiencing different elements of how a reserve works.”
The group were also fortunate enough to encounter lions, leopards, buffalo and rhinoceroses as well as hyena, vultures, wildebeest, warthogs and storks.
Student Jasmine Barratt said: “I was thinking about studying zoology after my course, but after visiting the reserve it has given me a passion for conservation.
"I would love to become a field guide and educate young people about why we need to look after these animals and respect our environment."
Another student, Archie Cohen, said: “I have always wanted to pursue a career in this area and now I know what I need to do to achieve this.
"Spending time with the animals in their natural habitat was so exciting as they all have their own uniqueness and place which is critically important for the ecosystem."