What they had to say about Mankwe...
Prof. Adam Hart University of Gloucestershire
Mankwe is an amazing, life-changing, experience for students and staff alike. I’ve been visiting at least annually (and often managing a second trip) for 8 years and it is the highlight of my year. Seeing students walking through the African bush, putting skills in to practice and “joining up the dots” for the complexities of ecology and conservation is really the icing on the cake for me as a lecturer. The facilities and staff at Mankwe make getting stuck into some more challenging research problems a pleasure and the University of Gloucestershire has a strong research track record there.
As well as undergraduate and staff research, we have postgraduate students working on-site and we
are the research partner for the Nkombi Volunteer Program. None of this would be possible without
the tireless support, enthusiasm and knowledge of all of those at Mankwe.
Mankwe is more than just a “academic” experience though. Students, and indeed staff, seem to come to life once they step out of the minibus from the airport. Nothing beats spending time in the African bush, whether it be watching rhinos, chasing dragonflies, spotting birds or enjoying a beautiful sunset with a cold drink. Students describe the trip as “life changing” and “the highlight of their course”. After 8 years and more than 200 students I can honestly say that staff feel exactly the same way!
Dr. Richard Yarnell Nottingham Trent University
Mankwe Wildlife Reserve is excellent field centre for studies into biodiversity and conservation. I have been conducting research and field trips to Mankwe for over 15 years and can’t think of a better location and environment from which to conduct my Academic work. The Reserve is family run, with excellent accommodation and catering facilities for researchers and student groups alike.
The staff are knowledgeable, passionate, friendly and go out of their way to ensure your stay is productive and enjoyable. The flora and fauna is diverse and accessible on foot, allowing access to a wide range of taught experiences and potential research avenues. The field trips to Mankwe are often cited as the highlight of student degree programmes, and the life long friendships that are made at Mankwe keep students and staff coming back year after year.
Prof. Anne Goodenoungh University of Gloucestershire
I have been bringing undergraduate and postgraduate students from the University of Gloucestershire to Mankwe since 2012. In those 8 years, over 200 students have visited and I can genuinely say that there is not a single one who has not enjoyed the experience immensely and gained a huge amount from it, both academically and personally.
On each trip, we are looked after extremely well by staff who have become personal friends. Academic possibilities are extensive and extremely well supported, both in teaching sessions where students learn practical field skills, surveying and monitoring methods, and species identification; and through support of student research projects on topics as diverse as mammal ecology, animal behaviour, bird-habitat relationships, and vegetation management. Sitting around the evening campfire develops a supportive and friendly atmosphere and night game drives are always a highlight.
Many students cite the Mankwe fieldtrip as being instrumental in their choice of careers, and the number that have returned to Mankwe as volunteers or to complete dissertations or Master’s research, tells its own story. Leading our two-week field course is the highlight of my academic year and there are so many amazing memories. My three favourite ones though: finding a newborn baby rhino in 2015, watching a student on the 2012 trip cry tears of shear joy when she fulfilled her lifelong ambition to see elephant in the wild, and something that occurs on every trip - watching the stunning African sunsets.
Dr. Lucy.Bearman-Brown Hartpury College
I have taken groups of undergraduate students to Mankwe for eight years, and postgraduate students for three years. The experience these students have had has been phenomenal, and as some of them have described; life changing. The level of support they receive in developing field skills, learning about African wildlife and exploring complex topics such as rhino poaching and human-wildlife conflict has supported their development and progression into a wide range of careers whilst gaining credits towards their degree. Many students have also returned as volunteers after, gaining further experience and a deeper insight into what it takes to manage a reserve such as Mankwe. The staff are all incredibly experienced specialists and their passion for conservation, wildlife and research is infectious. Dougal, Lynne and their team have taken amazing care of our students, and Waterbuck Camp is an utter delight to stay at. I would highly recommend this as a part of any biology based course.
Stacey Higgs Derby College
I have been extremely fortunate to visit Mankwe for the last 14 years and have gained so many life experiences; the people, the culture and the amazing wildlife and habitat; it is a true ecological haven and the reserve tailors itself to your research, your passion and your abilities. It enables successful research and publications of papers from you working with such a dedicated, passionate and knowledgeable team. I first went out at 16 years old and have returned annually since. I am fortunate enough to now be a Team Manager and Lecturer at Derby College and my experiences at Mankwe have most certainly enabled my successful career, without them I really wouldn’t be where I am today.
Working at Derby College I have then been fortunate enough to run my own field trips to Mankwe Wildlife Reserve since 2015 and have run 8 very successful field trips in total, with 183 students gaining life changing experiences. Many Derby College students have then gone on to return to Mankwe over the following years to volunteer at the Nkombi Volunteer Programme to further their skillset and passion for South Africa and Conservation; with many students progressing onto undergraduate and postgraduate studies in this field. Students have been fortunate enough to conduct walked mammal transects in the African bush, experience night drives to find elusive porcupines and hyaenas, and take part in game capture and rhino horn trimming. Students have also been fortunate enough to conduct small mammal trapping, experience hot air balloon safaris, go on anti-poaching patrols with trackers and enjoy toasted marshmallows under the African
milkyway. But most importantly students gain a wealth of knowledge from the Mankwe team, from regular ‘formal’ classrooms educations lectures, to putting this theory into practice in the field with survey techniques, GPS and technology usage, and invertebrate, mammal and bird identification on daily drives.
Students gain both an academic skillset, but a skillset for independence, passion and empathy with different cultures. This really is a field trip that incorporates all of the theoretical baseline for successful progression into a conservation or zoological career, but also underpins the independence and growth in each individual student.