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Shamwari Conservation Experience

During the Easter holiday, the annual Shamwari trip was once again an eye-opening experience. A group of Lower Sixth pupils and staff gained a fortnight of diverse experience in the often challenging conservation issues and tasks faced at ‘Shamwari Conservation Experience’ game reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

Shamwari is one of the largest conservation initiatives in South Africa, with over 25,000 hectares of landscape in which wildlife, including the coveted big five, roams freely under the African sun.

Our pupils involved themselves in activities designed to make a sustainable difference for generations to come. Going behind the scenes with conservation experts meant that pupils were working on projects such as monitoring predators, clearing invasive vegetation and planting areas within the new wildlife rehabilitation centre.

Alongside physical work, pupils attended interesting lectures on subjects including lion hunting and rhino poaching and enjoyed an informative visit to Born Free, a rescue centre for big cats from across the world. The pupils participated in fascinating discussions about issues ranging from poaching to elephant population control and spent time learning about erosion control.

It was a privilege to spend time on the reserve and see a vast array of wildlife in its natural habitat, including the big five, and the pupils got involved with monitoring species on the reserve, from the speckled mousebird to the gentle African elephants. There were many highlights and memorable experiences including the discovery of a baby elephant, Mango, which the pupils helped to name and taking part in a night patrol to help reduce the chances of poaching. The pupils also enjoyed meeting members of the local community, spending time with local schoolchildren clearing litter and taking part in activities such as sewing.

This amazing trip involved valuable learning opportunities, strenuous work aiding the conservation effort and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but there was also downtime in the evenings to relax under the South African sunset, celebrate birthdays and enjoy the swimming pool!