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“I bless the rains down in Africa” – Elizabeth Fincher

My name is Elizabeth Fincher and I am a senior Wildlife Sciences major, graduating in December (aka a little over 3 months away). While I have had many adventures and met wonderful people during the past two years in Warnell, the experience I will remember the most is this past summer when I went to Africa.

flight-there

About to begin the 14-hour flight to South Africa

The adventure began May 4th with a 14-and-a-half-hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa. The moment we landed, I knew the trip was going to be one to remember.

Our first 10 days were spent in EcoTraining’s Mashatu camp in Tuli Game Reserve in Botswana. On our first drive into camp we saw a dazzle of zebras, a herd of impala, a herd of wildebeests, along with several giraffes. By the end of our ten-day adventure in Mashatu we had seen three (elephants, lions, and leopards) of the “Big Five” (elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and cape buffalo). One of the most memorable experiences in Mashatu, was when we watched a leopard stalk, kill, and eat a springbok. Our professor was the most excited of all of us because he had done his dissertation on leopards, but had never been able to see a leopard kill. Needless to say, it was a once in a lifetime experience.

leopard

The leopard digesting after a meal

The next 10 days were spent at the Makuleke camp in Kruger National Park in South Africa. This camp was full of breathtaking views. Every night we would watch the sunset, which was called a sundowner. We saw one more of the “Big five”, a cape buffalo. Unfortunately, we were not able to see any rhinos, but we did have an encounter with the anti-poaching crew, so it is safe to say we were near one of the three rhinos in the Makuleke area. The most memorable encounter we had in Makuleke was during one of our sundowners we saw hippos, crocodiles, and elephants from our spot on a beach. Although it was incredibly exciting to witness this, it was also extremely terrifying to see a view of some of the most dangerous animals in one place surrounding us.

hippo

One of the four hippos we saw, along with a bachelor herd of elephants and at least 10 crocodiles

I was also able to stay after the International Wildlife Course was over and visit Cape Town, South Africa for a view days with a few other students. While in Cape Town, we went on a wine tour, saw the endangered African penguins, and went shark cage diving.

Overall, I would not have been able to do this without having heard about it through Warnell courses and being accepted into the program. So I owe a big thank you to Warnell for being the most amazing school, Dr. Candelario for accepting me into the program, and my parents for helping me achieve my lifelong dream of going to Africa.

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