William Davies - 2006 Program Participant
William was well educated in agriculture and conservation and had a keen interest and passion for the continuing efforts of conserving the environment and the wildlife associated with it prior to joining African Conservation Experience. However, he experienced conservation research for the first time through ACE’s Botswana Conservation Project in the Tuli block.
Why did you decide to study abroad?
To gain experience in the field, whilst being aboard to expose myself to a different culture, techniques and methods.
Why did you choose African Conservation Experience?
Excellent reputation and longevity in the field of conservation, and safe travel to Africa.
The Tuli block is a rare unspoiled, unfenced, and free roaming wilderness that is just awe-inspiring. It stretches from horizon to horizon with only natural boundaries such as the Limpopo River.
What is the best thing about your program that future participants need to know?
That you will learn and and see things you could not imagine until you are surrounded by them.
What was your favorite part about your program?
Night game drives.
What's one thing you would have done differently?
Describe a day in the life of your program.
The day started early, up with the sun and straight out into the bush on a game data drive. The purpose of this is to view as much game as possible, record it on data sheets, species, number, gender, behavioral attitude, and direction of movement. If game was not present, then tracking was used to gain the same knowledge.
Other techniques included climbing rocky outcrops called koppies to gain a vantage point over the surrounding wilderness. You would then return to camp for breakfast, sometimes bringing the equipment into the bush so you could have it out on the game drive. After breakfast you would then follow up on any promising leads found that morning.
During the heat of the day you then processed the data into a computer and studied previous data and wildlife books. Afternoon then went out on a data drive with the same purpose of the morning drive. Then if conditions allowed, a night drive. These were focused on predator research and observation, using a hand held spot light picking out eye shine from a distance. There was always a edge to the night drives, as there was anticipation of seeing something rare and extraordinary.
Did you experience culture shock? How did you overcome it?
Coming from the modern living standards, turn a tap to get hot water, flicking a light switch, TV access. To then being thrown into an environment where you have to light a fire to get hot water, to using gas bottles and attachments for light, and having the campfire to watch instead of a TV was a culture shock. But you get used to it, just accept and embrace, there is no point complaining that there is no TV, you’re not there for that.
Now that you're home, how has study abroad impacted your life?
Broadened and opened my mind. Learned to appreciate what the world has to offer, you only get out what you put in.