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Dani Solomon ’13: Ingwe Leopard Research, Mpumalanga, South Africa

By Peter Tschirhart on May 12, 2012
Dani traveled to the Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve outside Lydenburg, Mpumalanga to study the local community’s perception of the leopard. Over the two weeks, Dani learned about bush safety, basic predator behaviors, basic bird and mammal recognition and identification, environmental maintenance, and patrolling and predator tracking. By speaking to the head researcher, she found that “conservation has as much to do with people as it does with the object of conservation and every aspect of its environment.” Conservation education is at the most early-stages at this reserve, but the head researcher and volunteers are working to promote a more balanced relationship between local communities and the leopard.
Cooking in the bush.

Cooking in the bush.

“Having been a Girl Scout for thirteen years,” Dani wrote, “I did not expect that this experience would be as mentally and physically challenging as it was. I have lived out in the wild before, camped in a tent, even slept under the stars. But this was wild like I have never experienced. After sharing a campsite with toads, spiders, impala, nyala, and mongoose, I have grown into what the head researcher calls “a bush girl,” someone comfortable and self-sufficient living in the South African bush. Though I do not know if I will ever have to make my own fire again, knowing how has made me confident in all areas of my life.”


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