I almost can’t believe that it’s already half a year ago that I left the Netherlands to go to Africa. A friend of mine told me about African Dream Horse Safari and how they accept students for internships, and that’s how I ended up going, together with two friends of mine!
My internship concerned the influence of elephants on a former elephant-free reserve. The reserve where I started this long-term research (which will go on for about 10 years) is Jejane Private Nature Reserve.
Jejane is also the reserve where our student accomodation (bushcamp) was.
For my research Glen, Traci, and my fellow students helped me to plot out 5 transects. In these transects, every year all the trees will be counted by species.
In this way it will become clear what the influence of the elephants is on the woody vegetation in a former elephant-free reserve.
Setting up this long-term research was not only good for my studies, it was also an awesome experience for me to do the whole thing by myself, with the support of my fellow students, Traci and Glen.
I’ve gained a lot of experience with identifying trees, but I also learned loads of things about the bush, the animals, tracking, managing a reserve and whatever more there is to learn about a nature reserve from Glen.
His endless knowledge provided us each gamedrive with new knowledge, and even after 6 months he kept telling us new things!
I didn’t only spend my time in the bush. A big hobby of mine is horseriding, and doing everything with horses that you can do with them! I’ve always had a very free, unstrained way with horses, and I like to work with them through body language. Here at African Dream the way to work with horses connected flawlessly with my way to do it, which made the time that I spended with the horses and the people at the stables even more amazing than it already would have been.
Traci taught me and the other students to improve our jumping qualities, but we also worked on things like bareback riding (and jumping), a bit of dressage, games, in-hand work, swimming with the horses, lunging and countless other activities. I even had the chance to school a young horse (Barbossa) who was quite inexperienced with riding.
All together, I had an amazing time at African Dream, but also in Jejane and in the Hoedspruit community. I can’t imagine an internship that would have suited me better than this one, and the same goes for the culture.
Now that I’m back in the Netherlands, I miss my African friends, the horses and the bush every day, and I can’t wait to go back for a holiday!
Written by Charlotte (Netherlands)