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Kudu21 Does South Africa!

Discussion in 'South Africa' started by Kudu21, 10 Jan 2017.

  1. Kudu21

    Kudu21 Well-Known Member

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    Hello/Sawubona/Molo/Lotjhani/Dumela/Ndaa/Avuxen everyone!

    In just four short months I will be embarking on my first-ever international adventure to South Africa, where I will be spending a little over two-weeks (possibly three-months.. more on that later) travelling across the eastern portion of the country as a part of a travel course sponsored by my university. The course that I will be taking is entitled "Large Animal Ecology and Conservation in South Africa", which "will expose students to a range of approaches to conservation in South Africa (including many that are less common in the United States, such as hunting safaris and management of game for meat and other wildlife products) in the settings of national parks, private game reserves and farms, sanctuaries, and zoos. South African customs, history, and values will also be explored, as these critically inform local conservation attitudes and practices."

    Our tentative itinerary is as follows:
    May 3rd- Depart
    4th - Arrive in Johannesburg
    5th - Apartheid Museum/Soweto/Nelson Mandela Square and Moyo restaurant
    6th - Travel Day - Fly to Port Elizabeth/Drive to Conservation Academy
    7th - Addo Elephant National Park
    8th & 9th - Private Game Reserves (I do not know which ones at this time)
    10th - Drive to Plettenberg Bay/Visit Monkeyland and Birds of Eden
    11th - Drive to Oudtshoorn/Visit Cango Wildlife Ranch and Ostrich Show Farm
    12th - Drive to Mossel Bay/Great white shark research with Oceans Research
    13th & 14th - Great white/cape fur seal/southern right whale/dolphin observations and research with Oceans Researh
    15th - Travel Day - Fly to Johannesburg/Drive to Kruger National Park
    16th, 17th, 18th - Kruger National Park

    The majority of my peers will be flying back on the night of the 18th; however, one will be remaining in the country and travelling to Pretoria to do reproductive research with the National Zoo, while myself and another student will either be travelling to Hogsback in the Amathole mountains (for 10-weeks) and then on to Limpopo (for 2-weeks) to conduct field research on the Cape parrot or we will be leaving South Africa behind to travel on to northern Thailand to conduct research on former logging camp elephants at the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (for 6-12-weeks, TBD), depending on how some last details work out here in the coming weeks.

    That said, I am very excited to maintain an account of my travels here, as so many others have done before me; however, the reason that I am posting this thread so much in advance is because now that itinerary is close to being finalized, I was really hoping for suggestions on what books and field guides you all would think would be most beneficial in procuring before my travels, as well as any ideas on what to expect, what to really be on the lookout for, or any thoughts or knowledge on any of the collections. This is the first time that this course has ever been offered, so neither professor is really fully knowledgeable on what all we'll be doing, and with both of them having very focused specialties (rhinos/elephants/reproductive science and marine biology/paleontology), I thought it'd be nice to get some thoughts from people who might be more familiar with the areas to which we'll be travelling.. I really appreciate any input, whatsoever, and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you all!
     
  2. Kudu21

    Kudu21 Well-Known Member

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    Updates!

    Firstly, I have been offered a research position with the National Zoo in Pretoria, so I will be taking that position instead of either of those that I mentioned previously. That said, I will, thus, officially be spending a total of three months in South Africa, returning to the States on August 2nd.

    Second, I can confirm that one of the private game reserves we will be visiting is the Shamwari Game Reserve. The other(s) still have not been confirmed.
     
    Last edited: 4 Feb 2017
  3. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands

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    I've not been to the country South Africa, although I visited Zimbabwe a little over 30 years ago, but as nobody has answered your original post I'll give you my two cents worth.

    I remember when I was in Zimbabwe the best bird field guide was Newman's Birds of Southern Africa, but I believe there are other books now that are probably just as good.

    For mammals I'd recommend Jonathon Kingdon's Field Guide to African Mammals, and one of Richard Despard Estes books - either the Safari Companion or the Behaviour Guide to African Mammals, both books describe and discuss the typical behaviours you might see when watching mammals. Both of these books cover all of Africa (not just South Africa) and could be handy if you are ever travelling to other parts of the continent.

    Smithers' Field Guide to the Mammals of Southern Africa might also be worth looking at. I haven't seen it, but I have Reay Smithers' Mammals of the Southern African Subregion which is an enormous reference book and very good (and worth getting if you can find it over there).

    :p

    Hix
     
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  4. Kudu21

    Kudu21 Well-Known Member

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    Hix,

    Thank you so much for your very thoughtful and informative reply!

    As for bird guides, I recently ordered Birds of Southern Africa: Fourth Edition by Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey, Warwick Tarboton, and Peter Ryan, which is supposed to arrive tomorrow. From the reviews I've read, it seems to be very comprehensive and detailed publishing, very comparable to the Newman guide but more recently updated and revised.

    I will certainly be looking more into the mammal guides you have mentioned, as from what you have said and what I have since read about them further, they seem as though they will be very useful. I am actually looking to pursue some further opportunities next year in Kenya and/or Ethiopia, so the fact they cover the entire continent is particularly useful.

    Thank you again!
     
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  5. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member

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    This sounds like a lot of fun!

    For birds the Sasol guide is your best bet by far.

    For mammals I would strongly recommend to buy the Stuart&Stuart field guide for the mammals of Southern Africa. That one will be a lot more help in IDing animals than Kingdon will be and it is also fairly strong in explaining behavior and the quality of the pictures is a lot higher than Kingdons drawings...nFor Ethiopia/Kenya you would need the Kingdon next year, but having more books is not bad a bad thing :p
     
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  6. kiang

    kiang Well-Known Member

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    We do not hear enough from the major zoos in SA, congratulations on your offer from NZP, sounds a wonderful opportunity.
    Would the Joburg zoo be on itinerary at any point?
     
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  7. LaughingDove

    LaughingDove Well-Known Member

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    I missed this thread when it was originally posted, but it sounds very cool, I'm looking forward to updates!

    As for the books mentioned so far, the only one I have is the Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals which is an excellent book, but in my opinion, impractical and unwieldy for field use and not something you'd carry around with you everywhere as one would with a bird guide (but definitely something worth having).

    Although I don't have the book, if I was going to South Africa, I would get the SASOL book too as lintworm recommends, and looking at the authors, this appears to be what you have ordered
     
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  8. Kudu21

    Kudu21 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you all very much for all of considerate suggestions! They are much appreciated and have given me a lot to think about.

    My copy of Birds of Southern Africa: Fourth Edition (which is, indeed, the SASOL guide) came in on Friday, and having had several days to review it, it will certainly be an invaluable resource. It is a beautiful and most thorough and detailed guide.

    @lintworm I have seen the Stuart & Stuart guide come up several times during my searches, so I am very glad to hear that it comes so highly recommended. Is it safe to say that this would be a good compliment to the Kingdon guide? The former for use in the field and the latter for review beforehand?

    @kiang Thank you! I am very excited for this opportunity, as the NZP research team has so many exciting projects going on at the moment. Now that I will officially be spending a full three months in the country, I am definitely hoping that I will be able to make it down to Johannesburg Zoo at least once during my stay, rounding out my coverage of South Africa's premiere zoos.
     
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  9. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member

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    @Kudu21 It is up to you ;) The Kingdon has a bit more information than the S&S one, but whether that makes it enough to buy it is up to you, it does however the best condensed account of African mammal diversity.
     
  10. Kudu21

    Kudu21 Well-Known Member

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    It doesn't take much to convince me to purchase another book :p I have gone ahead and ordered both of the aforementioned guides, and I am eagerly awaiting their arrival! I am also eagerly awaiting my research assignment, which is currently looking to be along the lines of either field behavioral research or DNA research, with either the zoo's work to create "DNA barcodes" to help combat the wildlife smuggling trade or genetic diversity research, like their recent work with black rhinoceroses.
     
  11. Kudu21

    Kudu21 Well-Known Member

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    Update:

    I had a class meeting yesterday evening, and a "sunrise meerkat safari" has been booked for us all at De Zeekoe Guest Farm for the morning of May 11th. As ubiquitous as these creatures have become in zoos, it will surely be quite the experience to observe them in the wild!
     
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  12. Kudu21

    Kudu21 Well-Known Member

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    With less than three weeks until my departure, I have a couple of updates:

    1.) I now have details as to the research I will be conducting with the team at the National Zoo in Pretoria. I will have the pleasure of working with their researchers on the zoo's Barcode of Wildlife project, sampling and analyzing genetic material from some of the most trafficked wildlife species in South Africa and Asia to help form their database.

    2.) I will be receiving a detailed itinerary of my first two and a half weeks in South Africa on Monday, and I will update the thread accordingly!
     
    Last edited: 13 Apr 2017
  13. Kudu21

    Kudu21 Well-Known Member

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    Updated itinerary:

    May 3rd: Depart - 5:26pm
    4th: Arrive in Johannesburg - 5:35pm
    5th: Apartheid Museum; Soweto; Moyo Restaurant
    6th: Fly to Port Elizabeth; Drive to Conservation Academy, Grahamstown
    7th: Addo Elephant National Park
    8th: Amakhala-Born Free & Shamwari Private Game Reserve
    9th: Conservation Academy - Range Land & Carrying Capacity analyses
    10th: Drive to Plettenberg Bay; Monkeyland; Birds of Eden; Drive to Outdshoorn
    11th: Sunrise Meerkat Safari; Cango Wildlife Ranch; Highgate Ostrich Farm; Drive to Mossel Bay
    12th/13th: Great White Shark & Marine Mammal Research with Oceans Research
    14th: Oceans Research; Fly to Johannesburg
    15th: Drive to Kruger National Park; Night Safari
    16th/17th: Kruger National Park
    18th: Morning Safari; Drive to Johannesburg
    19th: Drive to Pretoria
    May 20th-August 1st: Barcodes for Wildlife Research with the National Zoo in Pretoria
     
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  14. Kudu21

    Kudu21 Well-Known Member

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    Day 1:

    Hello everyone! I am writing this update as I prepare to make my way to the airport and board my first plane! After a short layover in Atlanta, I will be on my way to South Africa in just about 10 hours time. I am quite excited to get this adventure underway and to share it with you all! I hope that my posts will be at least half as entertaining as those that have inspired this thread to begin with.
     
  15. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands

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    Good luck!

    You may find it difficult to find the time to write, so just do what you can when you can. I know there'll be many people interested to read about what you're doing!

    :p

    Hix
     
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  16. FunkyGibbon

    FunkyGibbon Moderator Staff Member

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    Time for whale sharks in Atlanta? :p
     
  17. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    I for one would be very interested to hear of any facilities you visit that have king cheetahs (Van Dyk Centre, Hoedspruit, etc). I know Cango on your list has cheetahs, but not sure if they have any kings.
     
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  18. Kudu21

    Kudu21 Well-Known Member

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    Hello again everyone!

    I am writing to you all today from my very cozy Johannesburg hotel room after completing the first half of my South African adventure, my two week course in Large Animal Ecology and Conservation, and preparing to begin the second half, my research internship at the National Zoo in Pretoria. The past two weeks have been an absolute whirlwind, start to finish, so I apologize for the lack of updates up until this point! That said, once I get settled into Pretoria, a day-by-day write up will follow shortly! As will the photos!

    Unfortunately not! Our layover in Atlanta was a measly hour on the flight over, and I do not think that it will be much more than that on my return flight, unfortunately, because I would love to see them! At least I got to see one species of shark on this trip ;)

    I have yet to see any king cheetahs as of yet; however, I plan on travelling around a bit more while I'm here, so I will see if I see them anywhere else that I go.
     
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  19. TheEthiopianWolf03

    TheEthiopianWolf03 Well-Known Member

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    What species did you see at Pretoria zoo?