MidKent College Animal Management students had a once-in-a-lifetime experience travelling to South Africa to test their skills. Thirteen students ventured out from the College’s Medway Campus in April and spent almost two weeks exploring the country’s different habitats, visiting conservation projects, a reptile centre, game reserve and an aquarium.

Students also volunteered at the Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife in Durban working within the enclosures to prepare for new patients, and to remove old farming plastic from a riverbed.

Animal Management student Katie Phlean said, “The experience with the giraffe made me think about what I want to do in the future. The trip has made me want to do something in wildlife and conservation.

I’ve applied to university as I want to become a vet, but the trip has really confirmed the units I’d like to study.”

The trip included camps in the bush, seeing four of the “Big 5” in their natural habitat, during which they furthered their practical knowledge using pit traps to survey local wildlife, overnight cameras to view nocturnal movement and small mammal traps.

Animal Care technician Eliz Thomas said “The trip to South Africa was a fantastic opportunity for our students to deepen their knowledge of sustainability, current conservation issues and wildlife rehabilitation.

Education through conservation is a vital tool in addressing and tackling environmental issues. I hope that this trip will further encourage the students to be aware of their impact on the environment, and fuel their passion and enthusiasm for their future careers.”

The highlight of the trip was a surprise to the students – they viewed a vet darting an injured giraffe from a helicopter, and its subsequent 10-minute operation for a swollen knee.

Student Olivia Anderson said “I’d definitely recommend this trip to future students. If you get the chance to go, then go! I learnt so much.”

The Animal Management students have decided to return to South Africa in August to volunteer their skills again in conversation and animal care.

MidKent College offers a range of Animal Management programmes at its Medway Campus covering animal behaviour, anatomy and rehabilitation. Click here for more information.

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