The Perfect Way to Start

Olivia Lloyd
College of the Holy Cross
African Ecology & Conservation in South Africa – Spring 2019
That’s me taking in the views from a lookout tower.

I’ve been in South Africa for exactly 2 weeks now but it feels like I’ve been here for 2 months. It could be because of the time difference, jam packed days of amazing activities, or because of how quickly I’ve become so close with all the people here. The first week spent in the Nylsvley nature reserve was the perfect way to adjust to life in South Africa. We went on game drives every morning where I got to see countless mammals and birds including giraffes, zebra, and ostriches. The Nylsvley location does not have any big game so I really appreciated getting to go on long walks to explore the land myself. One of my favorite parts of the days here was getting to know all about my fellow students and professors around the fire at night.

A rare sighting of a pack of African Wild Dogs in Kruger.

We then travelled hours northeast to Kruger National Park and along the way saw amazing views of the various landscapes of South Africa. Entering Kruger was definitely a surreal experience, I had never been in a natural habitat that contained the big 5 (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo) all living together in such an amazing ecosystem. The OTS research site in Kruger, the Skukuza Science Learning Initiative, (SSLI) is stunning and I greatly enjoy the roof deck that is very good for bird watching. All of the professors are extremely talented and in this short amount of time I have learned so much from them in lectures, the field, and in conversations about their work and passions. We are starting our long-term faculty led field projects soon and I am very excited to see what new adventures OTS has in store.

First Day of Field Work in South Africa
Skukuza – the First Taste of Kruger!