Undergrad Research Assistants
The training course and survey options described below have been packaged as a series of 2 or 4 week expeditions. Please read the packaged expedition descriptions and then move to the constituent part descriptions for further details of what you will be doing.
Want to get involved or know more? Submit an Expression of Interest!
Expeditions 1 & 2 – Dinokeng and Sodwana
Start date expedition 1: 17th June
Length expedition 1: 4 weeks (3 bush weeks, 1 week marine)
Start date expedition 2: 8th July
Length expedition 2: 4 weeks (3 bush weeks, 1 week marine)
There is limited space available on expedition 2
The first 3 weeks are spent in a Big 5* reserve in the Gauteng province. After completing SO001, the following 2 weeks will be spent assisting with camera trapping, game transects, habitat assessments and bird point counts SO003. The final week is spent in Sodwana Bay undertaking one of the marine training courses (SO005/SO006/SO007).
Expedition 3 – Dinokeng and Sodwana
Start date: 29th July
Expedition length: 2 weeks (1 week bush, 1 week marine)
This 2 week expedition involves spending a week in a Big 5* reserve in the Gauteng province where you will be assisting with camera trapping, game transects, habitat assessments and bird point counts SO003. In the second week you will transfer to the marine site in Sodwana for a marine training course (SO005/SO006/SO007).
Expedition 4 – Gondwana
Start date: 10th June
Expedition length: 2 weeks (2 weeks terrestrial only)
There is limited space available on this project
During this 2 week expedition you will be based in a Big 5* reserve in the Western Cape region. You will be assisting botanists and large mammal specialists in assessing the capability of the hugely diverse fynbos and renosterveld vegetation to sustain herbivore populations SO004.
Expedition 5 – Gondwana
Start date: 22nd July
Expedition length: 4 weeks (4 weeks terrestrial only)
There is limited space available on this project
You will be based in a Big 5* reserve in the Western Cape region. The first week will consist of the African Conservation Techniques course SO002. Following this you will be assisting botanists and large mammal specialists in assessing the capability of the hugely diverse fynbos and renosterveld vegetation to sustain herbivore populations SO004.
SO001 African conservation course – Dinokeng Reserve
SO002 African conservation course – Gondwana Reserve
The objective of this training course, is to orientate students in the African bush and develop the skills and confidence necessary to participate in surveys. You will be given detailed training on the data collection methods used at the site, including bird identification through sight and sound, determination of age and gender of large mammals, recognition of tracks and signs, and many more. You will also receive a series of lectures on African ecology and conservation management to show how the research they are doing forms part of a bigger picture of wildlife conservation.
SS005 PADI Open Water
This course involves a combination of theory lessons, confined water dives and open water dives to gain an official scuba diving qualification.
SS006 Indian Ocean reef ecology course – diving
SS007 Indian Ocean reef ecology course – snorkelling
The course consists of lectures and in-water practicals and teaches identification of common genera and species of coral and other macroinvertebrates, identification of the major reef-associated fish families and common species. Designed to introduce a variety of methods and practices used for scientific research in the marine environment.
SO003 Leopard conservation programme
You will spend time assisting with four main programmes on this option. Firstly, groups will help with field checking and downloading pictures from camera traps set up within the reserve. Data will then have to be checked and processed in camp, and prepared to be sent through to the big cat conservation group Panthera. Teams will also be collecting data on large mammal distributions and habitat utilisation by driving set game transects throughout the reserve. These data will then be used to estimate population numbers and create predator/prey models for the reserve. Finally, students will also collect data on bird diversity and habitat health within the reserve, to determine any effects large herbivores such as elephants are having on the reserve. This project provides students with an amazing opportunity to work and live in a unique reserve that straddles the Gauteng and Limpopo provinces.
SO004 Effects of fire management on fynbos habitat
On this project you will be assessing the suitability of the florally diverse fynbos region for maintaining populations of large mammals. Regular burning of fynbos is required to allow regeneration of the habitat, and in this reserve this burning is managed and controlled. Students here will get the chance to work with botanists to assess the floral diversity of different areas of the reserve following different levels of fire management. In order to understand the knock-on effects of these regular burns, students will also assist with game transects from which population estimates and ranging habits of large mammals can be determined. This knowledge of how the various habitats are being utilised will better inform the reserve management on how productive, or otherwise, their current burning regime is and how many mammals the reserve could comfortably sustain.