Since I was a little girl I always dreamed about going to South Africa for the wonderful nature and animals.
And right now I’m living this African Dream!
On 11th of February 2013 I left the Netherlands to start my big adventure in South Africa for 5 months, and when I arrived I just fell in love with this amazing country, the magnificent nature and fantastic people!

My internship is about elephant population dynamics and migration at Mohlabetsi South Nature Reserve. The Mohlabetsi South Nature Reserve is a reserve consisting of three Private Nature Reserves (PNR), namely Jejane, Mohlabetsi Nyala and Inkonkoni. Traci and Glens house, and the students’ accommodation are situated at Sindyane Bushcamp in Jejane PNR.

The reserve has always been completely fenced off and has excluded elephant for decades. Cyclone Dando destroyed parts of the northern boundary fence in January 2012. Since then elephants began occupying the reserve. Mohlabetsi South Nature Reserve (MSNR) has currently taken down their fences and thereby become part of the Association of Private Nature Reserves (APNR). In 2003 research was started by Dr Michelle Henley from Save the Elephants – South Africa to examine the elephant population dynamics and movements within the APNR and Kruger National Park (KNP). She established an individual ID file of all the elephants within these reserves. And now I’m starting the same ID file for MSNR in corporation with Dr Michelle Henley and guidance from Glen. During the week we go out in the bush searching for the elephants. With the help of Glen I collect the data from the elephants (age, size, sex, etc.) and write down where we see them in the reserve. Being a part of such a big research, setting up this long-term research at MSNR, to gain this much experience and to get the chance to work with amazing researchers is just magnificent!

Every game drive or bushwalk is just amazing. Glen taught me so much about the vegetation, facts about animals, following tracks, how to read animals behaviour, managing a reserve, how to read the stars and moon to find North and South and so much more. The sunsets and sunrises are amazing; just being in the bush makes you feel alive. I’ve already seen the Big 7 (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Cheetah, Hippo) and even had some rare sightings like Honey Badger and Porcupine!

African Dream is giving me the great opportunity to do an amazing project. But I’m also getting the amazing chance to learn how to work with horses. I’ve never ridden a horse and thanks to Traci, Shannon and Anna after 10 weeks I’m cantering through the arena and bush. We’re going out on amazing trails or do a dam swims with the horses. It’s just great that you can be so close with nature through these animals!

Furthermore, I’ve had the chance to do some awesome excursions! Kruger National Park, Moholoholo Rehab Centre, Walk with the Wild, Elephant Back Safaris, Khamai Reptile Park, visit the Waterfalls and Mariepskop at Drakensberg and have an amazing sleepover at the mountains under the stars.

Traci, Glen, Shannon, Rachel, Jvv, Anna and all the other amazing people here just make you feel like you’re home. I’m absolutely enjoying my stay here and now already planning to come back: My internship at African Dream Horse Safari is just a dream coming true!

  

Written by Anique (Netherlands)