South Africa Trip July-August 2022

At the start of the summer holidays, a group of thirteen sixth form students travelled to South Africa for what promised to be the trip of a lifetime. They were not disappointed!

The visit was arranged by the RHS’s Science Department and was designed to give the students hands-on experience of ecological field work at the Mankwe Wildlife Reserve, just outside Pilanesberg National Park. Mr Gould shares his thoughts about the trip below:

From the moment we arrived, we knew that the following two weeks at Mankwe would be very special indeed. The Waterbuck camp was beautiful and the students quickly settled into a life of collecting data, identifying species and individuals during the day - followed by stunning sunsets, campfires and early nights. It did take some time to get used to our neighbours at night, especially the bats which seemed to like nothing better than to roost in our tents and cabins.

The whole team at Mankwe made us feel extremely welcome and just as importantly, highly valued in the field work we carried out. The data we collected from insect transects to large mammal transects to the individual identification of rhinos and giraffes will all go to help ensure that the ecosystem of the reserve remains as healthy as possible. This is crucial to help protect rhinos on the reserve which have been persecuted by poachers for their horn, which, by weight, is more expensive than gold. The students learned that helping to protect these magnificent creatures means working to protect all of the creatures and plant life on the reserve.

Overall, every day was better than the last!

For the students, the highlights were endless and the trip was a once in a lifetime experience. Some of the students who attended shared some memories of the trip with us:

Anthony said: “One of my favourite parts of the trip was walking through the bush among the wildlife - this included the walked large mammal transect, bush walk, foot patrol, and other times such as setting up camera traps. I found it fascinating to see the different and unique habitats and how the animals have shaped their environment”.

Hannah shared with us her favourite moment: “Helping out with the fire breaks on the reserve. I hadn’t heard of this strategy before, but now looking back, I can see how crucial the work we undertook is in helping to prevent uncontrollable wildfires in the future. It felt as though we were in an action movie!”

Emily said: “Nothing will beat the most beautiful sunsets and scenery I have ever seen”

Thank you to the Science Department for running such an incredible residential for our sixth form students. Lynne and Melissa who run the reserve have told us that the staff and students from Ruislip High School are welcome anytime to help with this conservation. We can’t wait to go back!