Well it has been about three weeks since my last update so I will do my best to give a brief overview of what has happened (begin bullet form):
October 26th to October 31st – Duinepos, West Coast National Park
– From Cape Town we went Northwest along the Atlantic coast to West Coast National Park, land of the fynbos.
– Fynbos = lots of short, shrubby, and scrubby plants (over 9000 plant species!!)
– Ostriches, Eland, and Bonteboch (a cool looking antelope-like animal)
– Lots ‘o Tortoises!!
– Playing on Sand Dunes
– Two projects:
- 1. DUNG BEETLES!!
- Unique flightless dung beetle that gallops!?!
- Pretty interesting little insects, rollin’ and draggin’ their dung balls
- 2. SEA GRASS!!
- Terrestrial Plants that returned to the water
- Harbor lots ‘o aquatic critters
- Played with hermit crabs and snails
- Assessed biodiversity in grass
- Nearly stepped on a guitar shark!
– Overall an awesome place with inspiring views of the Atlantic
November 1st – 7th – De Hoop Nature Reserve
– From Duinepos back towards Cape Town but further east towards the southern most point of Africa
– More Fynbos
– Most days spent catching up on work with trips to the beach in between
– Some overzealous baboons that ran across our dorm building at ~5:30 every morning (not my favorite alarm clock)
– Spotted some whales off the coast!!
– Went to southern most point of Africa – Saw where the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans meet
– Main feature was discussions about environmental conservation!!
- Interesting to learn and talk about various conservation methods, policy, and practice
- Lots of heavy questions surrounding environmental ethics
- Considering how and what ethics affect humanity’s conservation practices
- Why do we conserve? What do we want to protect/conserve?
- Predominating ethic is utilitarian (what can nature do for humans)
- So. . . is that the best way to evaluate nature and the best way to approach conservation practices. . . ?
– November 8th-9th – Back to Cape Town for a night and then traveled back to Skukuza for the final month of the semester
November 10th – present – Skukuza, Kruger National Park
– Great to be back in the savanna. . . have already seen:
- Wild dogs
- A Leopard
– Since we were here the rains have come, turning the landscape from brown to a flush of green
– We are busy, busy, busy:
- Ecology exam done
- Full speed ahead with our final projects
– My current project = Small Mammal Diversity in Different Vegetation Structures
- Out in the field at 5:30 every morning to check traps, which we will reset that afternoon (i.e. LONG DAYS)
- So far after one night we have caught four rodents over eight sites
It is pretty amazing to think that I have been here for nearly three months now and that I will be flying home in only a few weeks time. When I look back on all the places we have been and gone the time definitely seems longer and it is cool how our group has gotten to know each other better and better as the semester as progressed. Now back in familiar place, with only a few more projects to go, I am looking forward to my final weeks here in South Africa.
Check out the pictures below from the Cape and KNP