Students at Bishop Burton College have spoken of their “life-changing” experiences working on a game reserve in South Africa.
Animal management students at the college spent two weeks working as volunteers at the Shamwari Game Reserve, near Port Elizabeth.
During their time there, the students helped the reserve’s rangers with a range of jobs to monitor the animals and maintain the environment.
For many of the group, it was their first time visiting a different continent.
Clare Chaffe, curriculum leader for animal management at the college, said: “It was an amazing experience for the students and they got so much from it.
“Over the last few years, we have held a lot of trips for our students, including Holland and New York. For us, this was the next step to give them a truly unique experience directly linked to enhancing their CVs.
“The students all saw the ‘big five’ – lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos. They also saw black-backed jackals, warthogs, mongooses and so many more. The students were able to identify more than 150 species of birds alone. It was incredible.
“They looked at how the rangers monitor the species they have. They did rhino and elephant monitoring and looked at the methods they use.
“The students also worked on things like road maintenance and erosion site control. It was tough but they all worked really, really well.”
Clare said the trip, which was available to all second-year Level 3 students upwards, including those studying for a degree, will now be repeated every year.
“The students got so much from it, as did the staff,” she said.
“They worked hard in teams and developed their communication skills. There were some students who didn’t really know others on the trip but the group all worked together as a whole.
“It gave them a real insight into what work is really like and it developed their life skills by experiencing a different culture. I think a lot of them were quite humbled by it.
“We are now going to do it every year.”
Level 3 student Summer Porter, 19, from Hornsea, said: “It was an amazing opportunity given to us by the college. It was life-changing to see how they live out there.
“I know now that I want to work in wildlife conservation.”
Fellow student Casey Edwards, 18, from west Hull, said: “It was a great experience.
“Seeing the work the Rangers do on the reserve was fascinating. They do everything and we didn’t know just how bad the poaching was out there.
“We also went into the community for two days. On the first day, we worked in the schools by helping build them a jungle gym, which is a climbing frame made of raw materials. The second time we went into the community we played football against the local girl’s team.
“I’m now hoping to go on the trip again next year.”
Bishop Burton College, near Beverley, runs a wide range of further education courses for school leavers and degrees in subjects including agriculture, engineering, equine and sport. Places are still available to start in September. For more information, visit www.bishopburton.ac.uk.