A week of field pracs for a conservation student.

Noluyola Obose (Yola)
8 July 2014

I am one of the Groen Sebenza interns hosted by WWF-SA and am based in Nature’s Valley Trust (NVT) as my placement organisation. I am completing my National Diploma in Nature Conservation studies at UNISA and am currently busy undertaking my Working Integrated Learning (WIL). WIL is when the student is given the chance by the institution to gain the work experience while the student is still at the university. 

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Yola standing next to a solar energy powered rain gauge.

I spent my WIL visiting the City of Cape Town (CCT) at Rocklands’ in Mitchel’s plain, Western Cape, where I worked at Wolfgat and Macassar Dune Nature Reserve (WNR and MDNR). Here I received a warm welcome by Lewine Walters (section manager) of WNR and MDNR.During the mid-year school holidays (June 2014) I was given an opportunity by NVT Director, Dr Mark Brown, to go and develop my skills in the other side of the environmental field. At NVT I am working in the Environmental Education Programme, working with schools and local communities.

wolfgat nature reserve new gate

The newly installed gate at the Wolfgat nature reserve.

At MDNR and WNR I gained vast experience by working close with the Nature Conservation Team, Mrs N Sidzumo (MDNR reserve manager), Mr L Ntantiso (WNR reserve manager), Alungile Nonyongo (the student at CCT) and the other students from CPUT. The team was conducting alien vegetation clearing, post fire monitoring, bird counts, rainfall monitoring, law enforcement and other general work including painting and administration. 

Bird count

Yola During a Bird count at the Maccassar Dune Nature reserve dam.

There were two highlights for me. As a group of students and volunteers we had the opportunity to learn about how to mix the chemical that was used to treat alien invasive plants. Alungile (student CCT/ WNR) informed the leaners about all the materials they were using for the mixture, the mix and the chemicals they were using with them. The method consisted of mixing the three chemicals together, taking the measurements of 2ml of dye, 60ml of tumbrel and 10ml of crop oil respectively.

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Yola assisting in chemical mixing used to treat alien invasive plants.



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Yola is cutting down an alien invasive plants.

I also had a great opportunity to work with Mr Mfundo Tafeni (Biodiversity manager CCT Westlake branch). Mfundo and his team were controlling a problem alien bird species occurring in the Cape Town Metropolitan Area.

new plant species found

Yola assisting to record new plant species found after an unintentional fire.

Cape Town metro has a big problem with Indian House Crows. The CCT have developed a project of fighting this problem and the opportunity to provide unemployed youth with jobs. At Nyanga, Browns Farm and in Philippi Station we were feeding birds with poisoned food and collect the carcasses. The team was performing culling, trapping the birds in cages and carrying out dissections to determine the age and sex of the ducks.

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Alien invasive bird trapping and dissection

I learnt a lot during my WIL, and am grateful for the opportunity provided to me by the City of Cape Town.


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