Conservation and wildlife encounters
Lauren, a WWF intern at NVT, picked me up at the airport and brought me back to the intern house, where I found a lovely welcoming letter with NVT polo shirts, an NVT hat, and a buff. Since I’ve been the only international intern at that time, I was lucky that I had a room all to myself.
On my first day at the office, Mark introduced me to the work and projects around NVT and I met all the lovely staff members in Nature’s Valley except Kellyn who was on a research trip for two weeks. In that week a bird ringing took place in the Fynbos where I got to release a beautiful Cape white-eye. That was very memorable to me since it was my first physical encounter with a wild bird. In that same week, Brittany took me to the Lookout beach where we were looking for Oystercatcher and White-fronted plover nests and chicks. Furthermore, I joined Lauren on the Groot River where we investigated the invasive alien mosquitofish.
During the time of my internship, I’ve surveyed the White-fronted plover (WFPL) chicks as a part of my environmental engineering degree. I studied their behavior in response to the presence of humans, humans with dogs and predators. Additionally, I investigated the usage of the wooden shelters that we installed on vegetation-free areas on the beach, nearby WFPL nests, to increase the fledging rate of the WFPL. Unfortunately, there were no chicks at the beginning of my internship due to a storm surge that occurred a couple of days before my arrival which delayed my observations.
I had many wonderful moments during my internship that will remain in my memory. One of them was the raptor ringing, where we drove 500 km through the beautiful landscape of South Africa. We were very lucky to catch and ring two Common Buzzards, one Jackal Buzzard, and a Rock Kestrel. On another day there was a release of 14 endangered African Penguins organized by NVT and Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation and Awareness Centre. That was a very memorable and unique experience to see how these birds headed back into the wild after they were rehabilitated by the Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation and Awareness Centre. While I was here, I also had the opportunity to be part of several bird-ringing sessions, where Brittany taught me to extract these little, cute birds out of the nets. I also got involved in the mosquitofish project, the NVT’s educational programme and the holiday programme that NVT runs every year.
All in all, it has been such an amazing and unique experience for me. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to have insight into a lot of projects that the Trust is working on around and in Nature’s Valley. It was great to see how conservation work, research, and education were combined and how the region’s residents were involved. I absolutely enjoyed working close up with wild animals and that I got to learn a lot about their behavior and biology. The Trust is provided with great and broad knowledge, passion and a lot of effort from each and every one on the team. I loved to step into the office every morning because of the warm atmosphere that prevailed in the team. For the future, I hope that Nature’s Valley Trust can keep up the amazing work they are doing now since it provides so much value to the region. A big thank you to everyone, it was AMAZING and probably a once in a lifetime experience for me.