Reports from the Field

This internship has answered so many questions to my professional life

South Africa: Scientific Field Research and Techniques

My name is Angelo, I am 24 years old and I am studying Zoology and Bioscience in Glasgow, Scotland. I am french but I choose to move to Glasgow a few years ago in order to improve my English which I knew would open me so many doors in the future, for both my professional career and my daily life. I’ve always been fascinated by animals or the wildlife in a holistic manner, however,

I’ve always been struggling to find a direction or a path to pursue my career. Through Bushwise, which is a organisation that provide FGSAS, I heard about this project and I took the chance to travel to South Africa to do a wildlife conservation internship. This has changed my life forever and I will never be grateful enough for this incredible experience that I’ve had the pleasure to share with the volunteers and the staff members. After 3 months of being in the bush, I am now sure that my future will lead me here, in the African wildlife to either work in conservation or as a field guide. I was nervous during my first flight, coming to Africa for the first time ever. But after my first day in Limpopo, I already felt part of the big Family. The staff members and the volunteers present for my beginning were extremely friendly and welcoming. They knew exactly how to integrate the new volunteers. After a week of lectures and general research drives, where the staff members taught us about the animals and the work that the project do in the reserve, the volunteers were fully trained and ready to work. I’ve never felt lost or confused once during my first week, even though we had a lot to learn.

A typical day with the project in Limpopo, usually starts with a morning drive. I never got bored of looking at the indescribable African sunrise, meanwhile the animals are slowly waking up. Once the sun arose, we were looking for the cheetah coalition to collect data. The cheetah and lions in the reserve are part of the main focus of the project . Being this close to the three male cheetahs every day was something that I could never forget. After finding the cheetah, we were either going to look for other animals of the reserve, always learning as much as possible with a very passionate and enthusiastic staff member. It is so much more pleasant to learn about elephant or eagle when they are standing right in front of you. In the vehicle, we get the chance to observe the animals closely, without intruding on their space and natural behaviour. I have had so many amazing sightings and every day has felt better than the previous day. The difference between the project in Limpopo and a safari experience from a lodge is that with the project , we contribute to the welfare of the wildlife by collecting important data, or through reserve work management. Volunteers can leave here feeling like they have made a difference, and truly contributed to the wildlife conservation. Having awesome daily sightings is the result of the hard work that we all put in and this is a marvelous feeling.

My internship has been the perfect balance between learning a lot, having a lot of fun, and having so many unforgettable sightings. I would advise anyone coming here to not be shy or nervous, every single person that I’ve met has been super friendly and incredibly welcoming. Everyone here can truly be himself without being scared or pretending to be someone else. People here are so different in a positive way, which make this place so unique and wonderful. I would also advise anyone coming here to enjoy every moment during the internship. Time flies and I can not believe that I’ve already finished my 3 months internship. I felt like I arrived yesterday. I’ve been talking about this feeling with a lot of volunteers here and everyone agreed on this. No matter what you are looking to gain during this internship, you will leave the project with a clear head and much more confidence in your daily life than you had before. Sharing the same house with 20 people in the middle of a reserve is an incredible feeling. Here, I’ve reconnected myself with nature, with the world, and with humanity. You can not have a bad day during your time here, as everyone’s happiness and optimism will always cheer you up, even during your difficult moments. Meeting new people from different nationalities were also one of the greatest part of the project .

Everyone here came with different cultures and different stories, but also with different reasons for being here. For example, I met many volunteers and staff members studying the same subject as I did, and which are also looking forward to doing a career in the wildlife conservation. My social network is now broader and much more meaningful for my future plan. I also met volunteers studying or having jobs not related at all to animals conservation, such as math, fashion or chemistry. However, everyone here shared a common passion which is the wildlife, and everyone was always keen to teach or learn about it. What I learned the most about myself during my time here, is that I want to dedicate my life working with African wildlife. I’ve also learned what is really important in life, such as making the difference between what I need and what I want. Through basic living,

I’ve learned to appreciate what really matters in life. When I came to Limpopo for the first time, my knowledge about the bush was poor. Through my 3 months internship, I have improved so much in terms of wildlife knowledge, but I’ve also improved my confidence. I can not wait to come back here next summer. I made friends from all around the world, and I am very excited to come to visit them when I will have time. One of the main beliefs of the project is to make a difference in the field, which means that we were not only learning and working on the reserve but also outside the reserve, being involved in the community around Karongwe. During my time, I visited the local schools where I’ve spent time with the kids, playing football and teaching them about the environment. The kids were lovely, they wanted to learn as much as we wanted to teach them, and they gave me motivation and conviction in the path I’ve chosen. If I could have the chance, I would love to discover more of the project base in the world, like the Costa Rica wildlife program, or the Seychelles scuba diving. I believe so much in the project, which is to impact volunteers careers by helping local people in places where they need us the most. In September I will return to university in Glasgow, to finish my third year of university. I will then come back to Limpopo in June 2019 for another 3 months internship, this time as a staff member. I planned to lead my own research project through my next internship, which would both benefit the reserve, but also my studies. The results that I will collect in Limpopo will be used for my dissertation during my fourth year of university. Once my zoology degree completed, I am planning to return to South Africa, hopefully in the long term, where I will spend another year studying for my FGSAS through the Bushwise organisation. The project has given me the chance to project myself in the long term, and I feel like this internship has answered so many questions to my professional life. The project has given me conviction in the fact that, when united, we can truly make a difference in the world, with a lot of work but also by having a lot of fun.

Scientific Field Research and Techniques in South Africa


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Angelo Poupard