My research at Bournemouth University has focused on the impacts of human and wildlife conflicts, with response to how these could be mitigated and appropriately managed. As part of my post graduate studies, I carried out an 8-week wildlife research conservation internship with GVI South Africa, Limpopo. This is a charitable organisation that focuses largely on conservation within a game reserve. This opportunity allowed me to broaden my horizons within the conservation sector and enable me to develop direct research experience within the field.
Working closely with a team of dedicated conservationists within the South African bushveld, I partook in conducting valuable research on the wildlife dynamics of a relatively small game reserve. This involved developing tracking skills, where dominant predators were tracked using radio telemetry, to develop a better understanding of the movement patterns of the animals and in turn aiding with the management of the area. Vital behavioural data was collected daily with emphasis on predator and herbivore species presence and interactions, so that a better understanding of the animals could be achieved. Additionally, there was focus on reserve management to ensure that the reserve is maintained to the best standard.
This internship utilised established training methods, where predominant telemetry skills were initially developed, and a subsequent focus on tracking and signing within the bushveld was explored. These significant skills were established so that a holistic approach to conservation can be achieved, with a sustainable and long term emphasis. Scats and tracks were identified, where we were tested on various parameters, including individual and group species movements, when they were last seen in the area, and any prominent indications of directions. Furthermore, key bird identification skills were practised on a regular basis
There was also a strong focus on community engagement projects, with the aim of encouraging and teaching local school children about the significance of conservation within the community and local area. By doing this, we aimed to encourage local people to have a better understanding of the value and importance of biodiversity within their country.
This experience has enabled me to develop key skills that are applicable to my academic studies, encouraging me to further explore the research skills and aid with professional development, emphasising on scientific output. Working as an intern, I have been exposed to broader global research working with industry professionals and an insight to the vital ongoing conservation work within this region.
You can find out more about this program by following this link, and get involved with this unforgettable experience.