Animal Behaviour Field Course: academic year 2016/17
This field course is one of the most unforgettable experiences in my university life, as it provided me an opportunity to closely observe and study about wild animals, for example learning about different kinds of elephants’ behaviours, like how they show dominance over another male elephants, their stress responses, musth behaviours and so on. Moreover, lion hunting was observed on site during game drives, which was amazing and astonishing to sight how lioness approached, deployed and structured the hunt, which could link back to lectures and enable students to compare and contrast between theory and reality. Furthermore, new knowledge about bats biology and conservation were learnt, which was a rather new and mysterious topic that seldom being discussed locally. Besides, a lot of native wild animals were also observed, like zebras, impalas, kudus and so on.
Apart from wildlife observations and studies, wildlife issues were also discussed, for example, the way in which people/tourists treat wild animals, wildlife trade as well as poaching. The most remarkable experience was to join the rhino anti-poaching team for the ear notching process, which was important for tracking and identifying individuals in order to monitor rhino poaching situations. This was a very valuable and rare opportunity to get to know how rhino tagging and anti-poaching work was carried out, students could even have the chance to touch the rhino. This could encourage students to spread the anti-poaching messages as well as cherish wild animals.
New skills were also taught from the course, like photo identifications, while old skills like the use of QGIS and pivot table were enhanced. These allow students to better analyze the scientific data they came across during the field course.
Last but not the least, there were some interesting facts and sharing from the guide/ranger during game drives, like zebras are black in body colour with white stripes, the types of plants elephants love the eat etc.
All the above experiences were very valuable and unforgettable. As an ecology student, I believe that only when we go to the field sites, we can work out and enhance the knowledge learnt from lectures, especially those about wildlife that could not be observed locally, and then we can have a comprehensive understanding of the subject.