Welcome to the Ecolife Wildlife Conservation Expedition Study Abroad Program
NLB 311 Ecosystems Management (4 credits)
NLB 312 People in Conservation (4 credits)
Please note: This program is offered by Ecolife Expeditions, South Africa.
The syllabus is a general plan only and deviations may be necessary
The Instructors: Prof. Wouter van Hoven
Centre for Wildlife Management
University of Pretoria
firstname.lastname@example.org Supporting lectures from various experts in their field at the facilities visited of local South African environmental and veterinary government organizations and NGO’s.
This 22 day study abroad expedition travels through different parts of South Africa, exploring the unique wildlife management principles applied towards a sustainable future for both man and nature. The many local tribes form an integral part in conservation to ensure the survival of the species diversity on the African continent. Upon arrival, a visit to the Centre for Wildlife Management at the University of Pretoria provides insights into everyday challenges to wildlife conservation. The Centre for Wildlife Management at the University of Pretoria compiled this program. The Centre has been producing graduates in Wildlife Management since 1965, and many leaders in the field have qualified from this school. The expedition travels through the northern and western regions of South Africa, exploring a cultural village, national parks, private game reserves, an animal rehabilitation center and breeding projects. We visit the world famous 2 million hectare Kruger National Park which will give insight into one of Africa’s “big” challenges – the African elephant and how to control their numbers. On this expedition the African bush is our classroom, providing practical and hands-on education to its students. We spend a few days in the bus at the beginning of the expedition to learn the basics of tracking, navigation and identification before setting out on the expedition. The highlight of the tour must be a 5 day game capture course on a private game reserve in the heart of the bushveld area. This course accomplishes its goal through the exploration of a range of different environments, aiming to understand the intricate ways in which each ecosystem functions. Subjects covered in this course will give you a very good understanding of conservation and sustainable development in Africa with its unique challenges.
Following is a short description of the two short courses (offered by the Centre for Wildlife Management) which students can enroll for at the University of Pretoria.
NLB 311 – Ecosystems and wildlife management (4 credits)
It is important to know in conservation that there is no precisely repeatable pattern in nature. Each region is unique in its own right and contains a combination of abiotic and biotic factors specific to the region. Every region will thus be treated against this background and students will participate in formulating management strategies. In the biology and management of game in different ecosystems which will be visited, emphasis will be on the adaptation of game to specific areas and the dynamics of game populations under these conditions. Animal behavior will be studied, water utilization and game condition will be dealt with as well as diseases, feed selection, parasites, nutrition and the principals of sustainable use of nature.
NLB 312 – People and Nature Conservation (4 credits)
In this section the emphasis will be on grazing and browse capacity and general concepts of carrying capacity in a multi-species park. This includes tourist carrying capacity and how to manage a game lodge in a way that maximizes the experience of the tourist yet minimizes the impact on the environment. Park management will further emphasize road layout and fire as a management tool. The importance of historical and cultural sites will be treated as the group visits these areas. Many of these places are maintained by local communities for a livelihood and this reduces their dependence on the natural resources of the area.
Upon completion of the expedition program, students will:
Understand the unique concepts of wildlife management in southern Africa through application of ecologically sustainable principles in fenced-in areas.
Understand the role which humans play in conservation, as a result of reaping the benefits of their input and protection of nature and tapping in on the tourism industry.
Become knowledgeable of the huge pressures on the natural environment by both humans and wildlife through population dynamics and industry.
Acquire awareness of the reality of modern day issues threatening the survival of species on the African continent and the human emotion which moves emphasis away from scientifically sound principles applied with great success in the past.
Acquire hands-on knowledge of the natural surroundings, animal behavior, signs of the wild and survival skills in this harsh environment of southern Africa.
Students will register for 8 semester credits at the undergraduate level. On the first day of the program you will be officially registered at the University of Pretoria. On completion of the course, the University of Pretoria will send your transcripts to your home university for credit transfer.
Study Guide and required readings
A study guide will be supplied upon arrival in South Africa. Students will find basic study notes in this guide, including required reading material. Students are encouraged to expand on this with their own notes taken during meetings and interactions with wildlife professionals in the field.
Course assignments 1. Written essay (50%)
Grading is done on an individual basis. This assesses the degree to which you are able to comprehend, integrate and apply key concepts. This may include aspects of wildlife management, biodiversity conservation, ecosystem function and community resource management issues. A sample essay question: Students will be given a fictitious natural area with certain conditions and factors, similar to those encountered during the course. Your task is to formulate a development guideline for the area that would facilitate the following:
Conservation and preservation
Sustainable development and utilization
Rural development and upliftment
Your answer must be motivated in terms of What you would do, Why you would do it and Where in the area you would do it. Grading is based on the following key aspects: factual accuracy, integration (linking ideas and subjects, big picture implications), creativity (originality, lateral thinking) and presentation style (logical flow of discussion, use of language). The essay will be completed at the end of the expedition and is compulsory.
2. Campfire discussions (15%)
These discussions will be informal and will center round given topics. Your guide or an alternating member of the group will head the topics for discussion each evening. These discussions will center around current issues in wildlife management, conservation and tourism fields. Suggested topics:
Sustainable development in developing countries, is it possible?
The Ivory debate
Culling of overpopulations of elephant
Campfire discussions will be held at different times during the expedition. The leader will give you a few days notice to prepare.
3. Bush craft (15%)
During your stay at Imbambala, you will be evaluated on practical bush skills learned, such as tracking, navigation, species identification etc. Your guide and facilitator at Imbambala will assess you on your performance.
4. Written quizzes (20%)
Short quizzes will be given on a regular basis, centering on the activities of the day\course. Your guide or an alternating member of the group will be assigned to head the questions for each of these quizzes.
Grading is designed to facilitate the learning experience, encourage teamwork, synthesis and integration of key concepts. It is, of course, necessary to meet the requirements for university accreditation. Our staff makes a deliberate attempt to move away from the often competitive and stressful grading approach that dominates many tertiary education systems. It is understood that much of the learning on this expedition is “experiential” and may be difficult to quantify. We therefore opt for expansive grading method where interaction, discussion and practical projects are an integral part of the system. It is important that students realize that they will be graded according to the standard grading schedule for tertiary institutions in South Africa. Please note that this differs from the standard schedule used in the USA as we grade in a percentage basis. A final percentage is then translated into a symbol, as follows:
75% and above Cum Laude (A+)
70 – 74% B
60 – 69% C
50 – 59% D
Below 50% Fail
The University of Pretoria will interpret students’ results to their home university.
Depart for Johannesburg International Airport after breakfast.
Lecture hours: 40 hours
Field hours: 51 hours
Field modules: 43 hours
Total contact hours = 134 hours (8 credit course)
Contact details during the expedition
EcoLife Expeditions makes use of a number of guides. For this reason no contact numbers can be given for the guides. The EcoLife Office is in daily contact with the guide (depending on cellular signal reception). We recommend that the EcoLife Office in contacted for any enquiries.
General contact information while in South Africa
EcoLife Expeditions Office (contact person is Natasha Louw)
457 Polaris Avenue
Ph +27-12-347 2624
Fax +27-12-347 6369
Mobile +27 83 424 1710
General information about instructors and course lecturers
Prof Wouter van Hoven obtained his DSc in Wildlife Biology and teaches at the Centre for Wildlife Management, University of Pretoria. He is involved in many management projects for game reserves and national parks throughout Africa. His most recent project, was the movement of elephant and other wildlife species by air from Botswana to Angola.
All of the lectures attended in the Kruger National Park are presented by personnel of the park, each lecturer is a professional in his/her own line of work. Due to the nature of their work, it is difficult to confirm which lecturer would be available on a certain date. Usually lectures are booked only 2 weeks prior, and even then there is a chance that they might cancel before the assigned date due to emergency work commitments.
All instructors used for field training and physical field work are well trained and professional. Save, educational and enjoyable activities are given.
Our project tours at different animal centers are hosted by well educated, professional guides who are eager and keen to assist with questions and discussions.
The reserve is situated 55km North of Middelburg with Groblersdal to the North and Bronkhorstspuit to the South West. At the heart of the reserve is the Loskop Irrigation Dam nestling in the Oliphants River Valley. Originally a small reserve was proclaimed around the then existing dam in the 1950's. As time passed the size of the reserve has been increased with the acquisition of neighboring farms and now covers 23 000ha of which 2350ha is water surface. Many wildlife species occur here, including about 60 white rhinoceros.
Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve
The fresh mountain scenery and magnificent panoramic views over the Klein Drakensberg escarpment are quite spectacular and give the area its name of 'Panorama Route'. The nature reserve runs along the Blyde River Canyon's winding path, which at every turn offers more and more impressive views over sheer edges dropping up to 2,600 feet (800metres) into the riverbed.
Kruger National Park
The world-renowned Kruger National Park offers a wildlife experience that ranks with the best in Africa. Established in 1898 to protect the wildlife of the South African Lowveld, this national park of nearly 2 million hectares, is unrivalled in the diversity of its life forms and a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies. Truly the flagship of the South African national parks, Kruger is home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals. Man's interaction with the Lowveld environment over many centuries - from bushman rock paintings to majestic archaeological sites like Masorini and Thulamela - is very evident in the Kruger National Park. These treasures represent the cultures, persons and events that played a role in the history of the Kruger National Park and are conserved along with the park's natural assets.