A group of students from Ellesmere College have been taking a walk on the wild side – a fortnight’s hands-on experience in South Africa involving wildlife conservation.
During their visit to Dinokeng, 12 students and two staff developed a better understanding of conservation, the conflict between animals and humans, animal behaviour, animal management and ecology.
Dr Tom Gareh, Head of Sixth Form and a chemistry teacher at Ellesmere College, said: “It was fantastic experience and our students got the chance to immerse themselves in the world of South African wildlife – with no fences!
“They were able to learn how to track multiple species of animals, identify animal behaviour, run eDNA samples for biodiversity monitoring and understand the art of ‘think global, yet act local’. They also got the opportunity to interpret the importance of Sustainable Development Goals.
“We got to study the Big Five – lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and African elephant – among many others close-up and in their natural environments, were able to gain cyber tracking assessments, learn important bushcraft skills and explore the township of SOWETO.”
The trip was arranged in partnership with Flooglebinder, the first UK specialist travel firm to become a Certified B Corporation and a company committed to raising awareness on climate action and biodiversity monitoring.
Dr Gareh said Ellesmere College was delighted once again to be in a position to offer students the opportunity to broaden their horizons by taking part in educational trips both in the UK and abroad following the restrictions of Covid.
“As far back as 2018 I was looking for a company we could partner with to provide these valuable opportunities and experiences but in a way that was far more sustainable and environmentally responsible than had been done previously,” he added.
“I was looking to make these trips something that would influence our students into making responsible choices now and for the future as part of their wider education. I found Flooglebinder. South Africa was their inception project, the programme that laid the foundation on how all of their trips are designed.
“It puts students into in-situ conservation programmes and gives them the experiences and field skills required to help create the next generation of global citizens. By taking additional steps toward sustainable and responsible business practices, they calculate the carbon footprint of each trip and offset it by 120 per cent, meeting the Carbon Neutral International Standard.
“It was the perfect match for us and we pressed ahead with plans for our trip, which could finally go ahead after being delayed through Covid. It was an extraordinary experience and one which our students will never forget.
“There will be more to follow, with a trip for our new Sixth Form and some current Lower Sixth students to St Davids, Pembrokeshire, to get the new school year in September off to a really positive and forward thinking start. We are well and truly back and looking to continue to share our place in the global community.”