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An international student shares their experience as a camp manager

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19. 

BY: Corina Rewijk

Camp manager blogs are written by our students who each get a chance to lead and manage a group (of their fellow students) for a period of one week.

After two busy weeks of Track and Sign, and Advanced Rifle Handling training, my week as the camp manager was just as busy! I came to South Africa all the way from the Netherlands, only knowing about five bird species and one South African tree. With Bushwise, I can say my knowledge about the bush improved by 500%!

Bushwise students busy with their track and sign training.

On Monday, the rest of the international students and I went to Hoedspruit to do a theoretical exam for our Professional Driving Permit (PDP) licenses, which allows us to drive guests during placements. It’s an important test to pass, and I found it difficult to study again because it’s been a long time since I got my driver’s license!

The next two days were all about 4×4 driving and how to safely drive and recover the game vehicle in the bush. Donovan, a staff member from Marking Africa, took us into the Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve, where we practised starting up a stalled vehicle and driving downhill. 

We also had to change a tyre and recover the vehicle from the sand. It was very interesting and made us realise that a lot can happen in the bush. The most important lesson about going on a safari drive is to always keep your guests and yourself safe.

The other days were spent practising bird identification using sounds and sight. We need to know at least 230 birds by sight and 122 by sound, which is not something you learn in a few days! 

Our new morning routine is to have coffee and play bird sounds. It’s been really helpful, because now we don’t just hear a bird singing, but we are also able to recognise what type of bird it is.

It's important for field guides to identify different plants and trees.

And with the tree assessment coming up soon, everyone got a bit stressed. So we went back to the game reserve and had to identify 50 trees. Since it’s the end of winter in Limpopo, most of the trees don’t have any leaves or flowers, which makes it even more difficult. Luckily for us, we’ll get another chance to practise our tree-sighting skills next semester.

Looking back at the past three months, I realise how much we’ve learned, and how much there is still to come. But for now, we’re starting our well-deserved off week, to unwind and prepare ourselves for the last two semesters.

Travel to South Africa and up your wildlife knowledge in the heart of the African bushveld!

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