Study and survival skills on Operation Wallacea | Epsom College
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Study and survival skills on Operation Wallacea

The 18 pupils were a credit to the college and committed to the extensive scientific programme with admirable enthusiasm. In Balule game reserve (part of the Greater Kruger area) we gathered data used to assess the impact of increasing elephant populations; activities included early morning bird point-counts, vegetation surveys and daily lectures covering the issues and strategies of reserve management. There were daily sightings of elephant herds, hippo, giraffe and antelope as well as occasional sightings of more elusive species such as hyena and leopard. Pupils learned to identify common birds and trees, the basics of bush survival (only food runs in the bush) and how to read tracks and signs.

At the marine site, Sodwana Bay, 13 pupils successfully completed the PADI Open Water Diver qualification. Each dive began with a dramatic boat launch from the beach through 5 foot surf before the bounty of Two-Mile Reef could be enjoyed. Above the surface we were treated to migrating humpback whales breaching whilst below we saw sea-turtles, white-tipped reef sharks, large moray eels and countless species of reef fish and coral.

I am very grateful to Nick Smith and Rhiannon Johnson for their support, enthusiasm and patience throughout the trip.

By Matthew Perrins, Teacher of Physics

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