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Victoria Hymel ’16 Interns at African Impact

By Contributing Writer on December 9, 2015
Victoria Hymel '16 researched animal behavior in South Africa

Victoria Hymel ’16 researched animal behavior in South Africa.

This summer, I was lucky enough to spend three weeks as a research volunteer on African Impact’s South African wildlife research and conservation project. Since I eventually want to conduct my own animal behavior research with African mammals, this experience was the perfect lead-in to this kind of career. One of my most memorable days on the project was a conservation morning. On these days, we would spend a few hours doing physical work to improve the game reserve. This particular day was only my second one on the project, so I was still learning a lot. We were doing bush clearing, which basically meant removing thorny plants from the road with machetes. Never in my life have I wielded such a weapon, so that in itself was an experience. After about an hour and half, we were all very sweaty and sore. The drivers were moving the cars up when we heard a branch snap a few hundred meters to our left. After craning our necks, we finally saw that it was one of the reserve’s Southern white rhinos! It was one thing to see these impressive animals from the cars, but since we were all on foot with nothing but our machetes, it was both exhilarating and terrifying. We had to immediately get in the game drivers, but it was a moment I will never forget.

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