July 13, 2009

Experience the life of a Field Guide

A participant, Richard White, commented “EcoQuest has taken my bush experience and appreciation to a new level”. EcoQuest is a unique learning experience and this was an eventful course.

After going through lectures on trees and birds the participants identified, at Makuleke 80 trees and 61 birds, while at Karongwe 40 trees and 55 birds. A total of 33 mammals were seen including African Civet, Porcupine, Spotted Hyena, a sounder of 6 Bush pig and the Big 5 excluding leopard. The observations during the activities and numerous encounters and sightings with large and small animals, supported by theory, allowed the group to discuss many aspects of ecology.

Sightings were made of lion, buffalo (many), elephant (many), hippo, white rhino, crocodile, and hyena. The discipline of encountering potentially dangerous game on foot was experienced with on foot encounters with buffalo, elephant, and hippo out of the water.

The wilderness is always full of special experiences and we had our share. Our elephant encounter on foot illustrated just how quiet these giants can be. A white backed night heron was a “lifer” for all including myself. Examining the internal “honeycomb” of a fungus growing termite mound showed some of the complexity of these insects.

Conservation became a well debated subject after the alarm calls of vervet monkeys lead us to a bushbuck ram which had just been caught in a poachers wire snare around its neck. The noose had tightened and we estimated the struggling bushbuck would not have survived much longer when Jaco released it.

“An interesting, interactive, intensive course on the interaction of wildlife and the environment” were the comments by Kay Fitchet.

Thanks to all for an enjoyable EcoQuest course.
Johna Turner
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