Wildlife Research Expedition

Info

Through a combination of hands-on experience, game drives and lectures, you’ll develop proficiency in bush and field research.

Next start date 08 January 2022

Duration 23 weeks

Format On-campus, in-country

Accreditation FGASA & CATHSETTA

Age 18+ (We welcome individuals of all ages that can easily walk 3km)

Optional Extras FGASA Apprentice Trails Guide

Overview

What is the Wildlife Research Expedition?

The Wildlife Research Expedition is as unique as they come. You will spend 6, 12, or 18 months in the field doing hands-on research, collecting specimens, uploading data and learning all the fundamentals to thrive in remote locations. Not only will you work alongside our very own entomologist, but you’ll be partnered with scientists in the field that focus on specialist topics.

We’ve partnered with Rhino Revolution and the Biodiversity & Development Institute (BDI) to conduct various research projects, allowing you to participate in ground-breaking biodiversity research and projects focused on rare and endangered wildlife.

The course includes in-depth lectures, practical surveys, research and training in tracking techniques on the ground. Your work alongside a specialist in the field will include carrying out surveys to help them on their projects. This work will include finding, mapping out the location of, photographing and collecting samples to support ongoing research. You’ll also learn to find, log and record species in the South African bushveld. Your focus could include any of the following target species:

  • Amphibians
  • Antlions and lacewings
  • Birds (special focus on vultures)
  • Butterflies and moths
  • Dragonflies and damselflies
  • Dung beetles
  • Freshwater fish
  • Mammals
  • Mushrooms and other fungi
  • Reptiles
  • Scorpions and spiders
  • Trees and plants (special focus on orchids).

Since Bushwise Field Guides has done incredible work in field research, we have gained special access to work in protected parts of Limpopo that rarely see human activity. These could include Chimoyo Game Ranch, Gravelotte cultural land, Lekgalameetse Provincial Park, Soutpansberg Mountain range, Wolkberg wilderness area and the Blyde Canyon Biosphere Reserve. These locations are so remote that you might spend up to a week camping remotely in the wild to conduct the necessary research for that project.

On your 6-month course, if mother nature allows for it, you will embark on two big road trips to conduct specialised research in certain areas. The first will be at the start of your course, to show you the fundamentals of remote field work. Your final road trip will be at the end of the course and will be part of an ongoing project that Bushwise leads in vital biodiversity surveys in a sensitive, undisclosed location.

It’s paramount that you acquire the necessary skills for remote working. This expedition could include these foundations for field work:

  • Introduction to 4×4, bush driving and safe vehicle recovery in remote locations
  • Dangerous animal behaviour in relation to data collection
  • Remote camp setup, management and logistics
  • Safety in the field (orientation, survival, weather and climate).

By joining any of our Bushwise programs, you’ll be able to apply the skills and knowledge you gained all over the world. And, since all Bushwise programs offer holistic training, you’ll be ready to both live and work in any remote locations in the field.

Your experience will equip you to do everything from managing a camp to promoting safety considerations and awareness in the bush. You’ll also learn orientation, identification of fauna and flora, the use of trail cameras for photographic surveys and to use fundamental field techniques for data collection.

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Info

Through a combination of hands-on experience, game drives and lectures, you’ll develop proficiency in bush and field research.

Next start date 08 January 2022

Duration 23 weeks

Format On-campus, in-country

Accreditation FGASA & CATHSETTA

Age 18+ (We welcome individuals of all ages that can easily walk 3km)

Optional Extras FGASA Apprentice Trails Guide

Details

Through a combination of hands-on experience, game drives and lectures, you’ll develop your bush and field research skills, and elevate your proficiency in field research.

The course includes several modules, including scientific research techniques, animal tracking, 4×4 knowledge, wildlife survey techniques, orientation skills, and opportunities to apply practical skills and theoretical knowledge.

During the first 6 weeks of the course, you’ll focus on the techniques and theory of scientific research. Thereafter, you’ll have the opportunity to select a focus species to specialise in. You’ll join a specialist in the field and support them with their research. You’ll carry out research, finetune your skills, provide feedback to the specialist and contribute to the success of their project.

In addition to working on your chosen species, you’ll still learn about all of the other target species during your course. You’ll also contribute to data collection efforts that are carried out according to set quarterly targets.

On the Wildlife Research Expedition, we focus on locations that have not been thoroughly surveyed yet. These could be within a day’s drive from campus or even further afield, which means we’ll need to set up a remote camping village in the bush.

Your days on campus consist of lectures, as well as practical sessions that cement the theory into your everyday life as a field researcher. Our research locations will give you the opportunity to embark on a practical adventure and further your experience in the field.

After the morning activity, which is either a lecture or a field excursion, you’ll enjoy a hearty brunch. The afternoon takes you out into the field for a practical session or a lecture that’s aimed at building on the skills and knowledge you gained that morning. All teams return to base for an evening meal around the campfire, which allows for bonding and reflecting on the day’s experiences.

The focus of your research will shift according to the opportunities available at the time of your program, and you may have the chance to work on multiple projects. This will allow you to experience different kinds of wildlife research, and to sharpen your techniques during your Bushwise training.

You’ll learn:

  • How to interpret animal behaviour so that scientific data can be collected safely
  • How to setup and manage a field camp in remote locations
  • How to use field surveying techniques to assess the environment for field safety
  • Methods for surveying reptiles, birds, amphibians and arthropods
  • Techniques and skills for studying wildlife, animal behaviour and biodiversity
  • The fundamentals of tracking animals using tracks and signs
  • The fundamental skills needed to identify fauna and flora
  • 4×4 recovery skills, and how to use very high frequency (VHF) two way communication radios.
FGASA add ons

The following courses can be added to the end of your 6-month Wildlife Research Expedition. The optional add on will teach you the necessary skills and qualifications to create a guided experience for safari guests. Your wildlife research experience, accompanied by a FGASA Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) qualification, will enhance your opportunities for a permanent position in the wildlife industry.

FGASA Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) course (6 months)

This course has been designed to develop highly skilled professionals in the field guiding industry through the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) curriculum. The course ensures a well-rounded and specialised educational experience, and was specifically developed to provide the vocational skills and qualifications required by employers in Southern Africa.

By pairing this qualification with your Wildlife Research Expedition, you’ll pair experience in wildlife research with specialised FGASA training. This means you’ll be able to secure a permanent position as a reserve manager, game ranger or conservationist anywhere around the globe.

The academic curriculum at Bushwise is accredited by FGASA; the South Africa Qualifications Board; and the Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality, and Sports Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA). All students are taught by professional guides and instructors, some of whom have been trained through Bushwise themselves. All additional qualifications are also attained through accredited training providers.

FGASA Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) and internship placement (12 months)

This program is made up of the FGASA Apprentice Field Guide (NQF2) course (6 months) and an internship placement (6 months). After completing and passing the FGASA Apprentice Field Guide course, students will embark on a work placement with a selection of prestigious lodges and game reserves in South Africa – like Moholoholo, Kapama, Africa on Foot, Siyafunda, Karongwe, and Motswari.

Our graduates have also been able to turn their placements into permanent positions and found work at organisations in Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Patagonia, Rwanda, Tanzania, the United States of America (USA) and Zambia. Opportunities for a dream job in conservation are wide open for those who combine the FGASA Apprentice Field Guide qualification with a work placement, and 6 months of extensive wildlife research experience through the Wildlife Research Expedition.

Read about the Bushwise FGASA Professional Field Guide to learn more about why you should choose Bushwise.