When you think of Africa what do you think of? The culture? The food? More likely you would think of the Big 5: The African Elephant, African Lion, Cape Buffalo African Leopard and the Rhinoceros. You wouldn’t be the only one. South Africa has seen record breaking amounts of holiday makers with 16.44 million tourists, contributing to almost 3% of the entire country’s Gross Domestic Product and it is due to these amazing species.
So, what were to happen if they were to disappear? Not only would almost 10% of South Africans be out of their job, entire ecosystems would collapse.
My name is Bethan Maguire, I am a first year BSc (Hons) student studying Wildlife Conservation at Nottingham Trent University. For my whole life, I have loved animals and from an early age I wanted to turn my passion into my career, which I am working hard to do now. After a trip to Botswana in the Summer of 2019, I quickly realised that my passion lies with the animals that inhabit the country.
Operation Wallacea is the company that will take me on this exhibition. Opwall works all over the world to protect wildlife, as well as ecosystems and provide opportunities for students, like myself, to aid in their work. South Africa is covered in fenced game reserves, which restricts movement of animals, and causes population imbalances within the reserves. This movement restriction has an impact on the vegetation, which is a vital food source for many species. I will aid in essential research that will allow management strategies to be carried out, and the reserve can be managed effectively in order to conserve essential African species and make a real difference in reserve conservation. This is essential, as you may know, scientists are saying we are in the middle of a mass extinction, and it is essential everyone does everything, no matter how small, that they can.
This research expedition will allow me to gain essential work experience and learn transferable skills in order for me to excel in my career and skyrocket my chances of getting a job straight from university.