Dudley College students travel out of Africa

Sleeping LionsDudley College students who have returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Kruger National Park to study the wildlife of South Africa, have vowed to return to help build a school in Hoedspruit in Limpopo Province.

A group of 11 students studying Animal Management at Level 3 and Higher National Certificate Level enjoyed a 14 day trip to South Africa’s northernmost province where they undertook an intensive education in wildlife conservation. Getting first-hand experience of animals such as lions, gazelles and rhinoceroses which they had only seen in Dudley Zoo before, the students developed a deeper understanding of the ethical and economic concerns of wildlife conservation in the region.

Visiting both private estates such as the 2200 hectare Nathaba reserve and the Greater Kruger National Park, students encountered the region’s wildlife up close with the help of their local tracker and armed guard. 

During the visit students took time out from their site seeing to work for two days in helping build a crèche and school for local children in Hoedspruit. Digging foundations to create a safe playing area and preparing the site for the construction of a purpose-built school room, the group gained a sense of achievement by quite literally laying down the foundation of the school for the future. 

Commenting on their trip member Hannah Johnson (aged 28) said:

“I feel like a changed person as a result of the visit. We had a fabulous experience and covered lots of course work while we were there, but my lasting memory will be of the children in the school. They are living in poverty but they have a real desire to learn. They made me appreciate how fortunate I am to have the benefit of a college such as Dudley on my doorstep and all the opportunities that gives me for my own future.”  

Megan Bird (aged 18) added:

“On one of our early morning safaris we saw a dead Rhino, who had been killed by poachers for his horn. Whilst my first reaction was to be appalled by this, our local guides helped us understand the complex dynamic that exists in this part of the world between the local people, tourism and conservationists. My first concern is still animal welfare but as a result of the trip I now have a better understanding of how this has to be supported economically and politically.”

School in HoedspruitDiscussing the future both students pledged to return to the region and the school saying:

“The trip has really inspired us not only to get more out of our studies but also to continue the support for the local school.  We are already planning a host of fundraising activities for the future.”

College Tutor Steve Gowenlock, who organised the trip for the second year running said:

“The trip really achieved its aims, scores for assignments submitted whilst there were really high with 95% not being unusual. And it has helped students think hard about their future study plans with almost everyone wanting to continue to higher education. But most importantly of all it has fostered a love and deeper understanding of the wildlife of this beautiful country.”

Steve is already planning another trip and is also sharing his experience with other local schools and colleges who are hoping to run their own visit next year.