I was in the research and conservation team so I had game drives on week days to observe the animals in different reserves and record their behaviors. After that, I had data meeting and project work such as data entry, identifying the animals encountered and adding tags to the photos captured by the camera traps. Also, I took up different weekly tasks like counting bats and packing box for the game drive, allowing me to understand how the operation of the whole research project.
Apart from the research and conservation team and the community team, I also got the opportunity to join the photo critique and presentation by the top photographer there. He taught me how to capture a good shot of the animals, edit the photos and tell me his insight about photography – every photo carries a message and make sure it is inspiring. Also, as a sharer, we have the responsibility to explain and make good use of the photos by uploading them on the social media platforms. This was the first time that I felt photographs are so important for research and conservation, affecting thousands and millions people if used properly. Also this was really a bonus for me as I never expected that I could learn the photography skills in South Africa.
I gained so much knowledge about the wild animals. I heard the love story of rhinos and they needed 30 minutes for mating. It is almost the top in the animal world. Besides, I think my observation skills has improved by carefully scanning around the reserves in game drives. Those things seem useful only if I do conservation and research-related job, but I think they will help if I get an ecosystem-related job such as a guide of ecotourism, teaching people about wildlife and animals. I can also share my amazing experience of seeing the wild animals when I’m doing volunteer work for the environmental NGOs, promoting the importance of conservation.
All in all, I would say this internship is life-changing for me. I become more mature in getting along with people and handling challenges. Also, I am so confirmed that protecting the environment and wild animals, as well as educating the community will be the mission of my life.