Wildlife Ecology and Conservation in South Africa (ABEC404) is a capstone course offered each summer/fall. Participants travel to the Lajuma Research Centre in the Soutpansberg Mountains in northeastern South Africa for three weeks in the summer. Most of our time is spent at the Research Centre, learning various field techniques including:
- full-day follows of habituated samango monkeys
- analyzing camera trap photos
- monitoring bats with bat detectors
- assisting on-site researchers with small mammal monitoring
- hiking the trails and mountains of Lajuma
We also spend several days with students and faculty from the University of Venda. It is a wonderful cultural experience for students from both Canisius and Univen. During the second week, we spend several days at Kruger National Park. This is everything that you would imagine it to be: we usually see many of the mammal species that one associates with Africa, including the “Big Five”. It’s not unusual for us to see one hundred or more species of birds, and we generally have an amazing safari experience. A recent addition is a hike to the eco-lodge at Leshiba Wilderness, where we are sure to see white rhinos, among other wildlife. During the final week, students collect data for individual research projects. We also visit a local school that is part of the Eco-School program, which is often a highlight of the trip. On our final day, we climb Mount Lajuma, the highest peak in the Soutpansberg Mountains. During the fall semester, we complete the research projects begun over the summer. It’s an unforgettable experience!
Students may apply for the course during the fall of their junior year (for the summer between junior and senior year). Eight students are selected before the winter break. This way, everyone knows what to put on their holiday gift list. Payment for the course (usually around $3800, all-inclusive) is due in 3 installments between December and February.
A few of the “Big Five” from Kruger National Park