GDCI Students Head to Africa

On March 7, 2020 eight students from GDCI headed off on their Operation Wallacea adventure to South Africa with teacher Melanie Ball. They started off at Struwig Eco Reserve, Balule, in Kruger National Park. Here they worked with Wildlife Ecological Investments (WEI) to conduct surveys of game, birds, vegetation, and learn bush skills. Some of their favourite sightings were lions, elephants, giraffe, zebra, warthogs, many kinds of antelope, hippos, crocodiles, and cape buffalo. Lectures were presented daily on species identification, ecological issues, and research skills. Students learned to identify local birds by their calls, use ID books efficiently, and assess vegetation for size, health, and elephant use. Reserve issues like fire management, poaching, optimal herd sizes, seasonal changes, and human-wildlife conflict were discussed and practiced in case studies. After a week they transferred to Dinokeng Game Reserve where they learned about inclusive conservation. This is a new conservation model where humans and wildlife coexist. Here they added ostrich, wildebeest, and jackals to their list of sightings and participated in game, snake, and road kill surveys. The focus here is on mitigating human-wildlife conflict and the on the ground experience was amazing. Thanks to everyone who supported them including 519 Tours for airport transport, the community for participating in our fundraisers, Rotary Goderich for their donation, teachers for helping with missed school, Operation Wallacea staff, WEI staff, and GDCI administration and AMDSB superintendent Jodie Baker for planning requirements.