South Africa Wildlife CourseDiscover Wildlife Conservation while learning essential research techniques
Join our service learning course in Limpopo, South Africa and gain insight into both wildlife research techniques and conservation activities. Live at a remote research base within the game reserve turning the natural environment into a rich landscape of educational opportunity.Enquire now
This inter-disciplinary course, accredited by universities and colleges around the world, introduces students to international service-learning and sustainable development, both in content and practice, in Limpopo, South Africa.
Through lectures, discussion, research, service, and reflection (beginning two weeks prior to their departure and continuing two weeks after their return home), students in this course engage in meaningful, context-driven service-learning at home and abroad. Emphasis will be placed on relating long-term project goals with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and engaging in daily reflection surrounding the experience, which will be lead by qualified group facilitators who are trained to enhance individual student development. The course curriculum will be tailored to your students’ academic needs as well as any faculty requirements.
A GVI service-learning course provides students with access to skill development and practical experience while engaging with a rigorous curriculum. By participating in this course, students will be prepared and encouraged to discuss and contribute to solutions for critical global issues related to sustainable development, within a local community and alongside an international team. By providing students the opportunity to live and work within the “classroom” of their chosen field of study, they will develop professional capacities associated with intercultural competency, global citizenship, teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership.
For full details of the curriculum, you can download our Service Learning Curriculum PDF here.
Participants in this course will:
- Experience global learning contexts associated with international service-learning
- Learn about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and how they are implemented both domestically and abroad;
- Explore their role as a development actor through in-country service-learning and reflection;
- Develop greater intercultural competency, global awareness, and a sense of global citizenship; and
- Build personal and professional capacities of writing, reflection, communication, flexibility, adaptability, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving.
The objectives for each GVI project are based on specific United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In Limpopo, students will largely contribute to pre-established environmental monitoring and research initiatives by collecting and reporting critical data. Emphasis will also be placed on increasing awareness surrounding pertinent conservation issues and knowledge of the local environment. These initiatives collectively incorporate the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals listed below:
- SDG no.6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
- SDG no.7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all
- SDG no.12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- SDG no.13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact
- SDG no.15: Sustainable manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss.
The program will focus on gaining a better understanding of the local ecosystem in Limpopo and preserving it’s biodiversity. Other elements that may be examined are water security, climate energy, and access to clean energy. Students will critically examine their individual and collective on the ground impact asking pertinent questions in order to evaluate their successes and challenges. They will receive continuous support from qualified staff members who will help relate and connect the students involvement with the community development projects and the SDG’s.
Please note that courses can tailored to a group’s in-class curriculum; however, specific work will always be dependent on the needs of the community and our local partners at the time.
The Limpopo Province in South Africa is home to unique wildlife, landscapes, and a spectacular variety of animals, which makes it the perfect place for a service-learning trip. GVI programs are located about 6 hours north of Johannesburg, near the tiny town of Hoedspruit, which is close to the world-famous Kruger National Park and home to South Africa’s Big 5 wildlife.
This course varies in duration, depending on project requirements as well as cultural expeditions or activities. The below outlines a one week course; however, your in-country service can run for as many weeks as set by your academic curriculum, objectives, and requirements.
Two weeks prior to departure, students will be assigned readings and assignments. These assignments make sure they have a basic cultural understanding of Limpopo and it’s local conservation-based issues; a foundational understanding of international service learning and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; and begin a dialogue surrounding global engagement. Materials will be chosen based on collaboration with the group’s educational leader to ensure the work fits within the group’s in-class curriculum.
Day 1- Arrival at Johannesburg Airport and Transfer to Base
The group arrive at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, where they will be met by GVI staff or representative. Transfer to the reserve takes 6 hours and is a great opportunity to absorb the surrounding landscape as the group travels north into the Limpopo Province. The rest of the day is spent exploring the accommodation and getting settled in and prepared for the time ahead. A welcome dinner, South African style, will act as an icebreaker and the chance to get to know the GVI staff.
Day 2- Welcome and Orientation
The day will kick off early with a welcome presentation and camp tour. Students will be introduced to the project and it’s background, and will be taken on a reserve orientation walk. Risk Assessments, Emergency Action Plans, as well as Health and Safety issues will be discussed in detail. In the evening a reflection period will take place in which participants will debrief and review their initial reactions and observations on the experience and location.
Day 3-5- Daily Structure: Service, Education, and Reflection
The exact project will be based on the requirements of our local partners at the time. The group can expect to be involved in a variety of environmental awareness activities, discussions and lectures. This may include learning about animal identification and behavior, as well as how to track animals and navigate in the bush, key survival techniques, and basic astronomy. Most importantly, students will learn about how the ecosystems in Limpopo work and will discuss subjects like geology, local history, soils, plant life and the climate.
GVI’s nearby research base is involved in the collection of data on large predators such as lions, leopards and cheetah. The information gathered is used to give an accurate picture of the predators’ impact on prey populations, determining social structure, genetics, and spatial movement. This vital information helps maintain a healthy balance of these natural resources and ultimately conserve some of Africa’s important ecosystems. Students will be exposed to various methods of data collection and monitoring during their time in the Limpopo.
All service elements will be connected to a greater understanding of the cultural context in which the students are working. Assignments, in the form of lectures, readings, written response papers, journal entries, group presentations, and miscellaneous creative projects will be conducted daily to enhance student learning from their service involvement. Daily reflection sessions will act as the bridge that connects and helps to synthesize the many aspects of the experience.
Particular emphasis will be placed on the ways in which participants are working towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Students will critically examine their part in this process, by analyzing their contributions, challenges, and observations.
Day 6- Community Service Day
We will pay a visit to the local school, one of our local partners, and offer environmentally-focused lessons. Students will have a chance to interact with the local children and teachers to experience first-hand what a rural South African school looks like. The day usually ends in a soccer game!
Day 7- A Fond Farewell
GVI field staff transfer the team back to the airport and bid them a fond farewell! GVI will endeavor to keep the group informed of any updates there might be in the field, with particular reference to the projects participants contributed to during their time in South Africa.
Students will continue to engage with active reflection and educational expansion two weeks after leaving Cape Town, with emphasis placed on incorporating the international experience, and insights gained which are then applied to the students’ home context. Assignments will involve generating ideas to continue global engagement, connecting the experience to personal and career goals, and reflecting on the insights gained while in the field.
What’s Not Included
Please note prices are subject to seasonal fluctuation and will vary depending upon the needs of the group.
**Optional extras include travel insurance and flight services
South Africa is such a magical place and there is no better feeling than being out on the back of a ute in the middle of a game reserve. I honestly cannot speak more highly of my experience with GVI in South Africa and would highly recommend this trip for anyone looking for a life changing experience.Silvi Tivas