Yesterday I had my first seminar in my module Conservation and Wildlife in the Tropics. The module is a Field Course module (like the Ireland one), where we will be going to Swaziland for two weeks to study and conduct our own experiment. The module organizer told us all about the trip yesterday, where we will be staying, where we will be visiting, what we need to think about, what kind of work we will be doing down there, and other general stuff, and I thought I would share it with you guys (especially you mum, as I know you are probably very interested/worried).
So we are around 17 students who in April are going to the Kingdom of Swaziland in Southern Africa. This small country lies between South Africa and Mozambique. Swaziland has a well developed infrastructure and is a very stable and peaceful country politically speaking, where even the King himself doesn’t require any security (and you could in theory just go up to his house and knock on his door). Unfortunately, there is still like many places in Africa a high HIV infection rate, and unemployment rates of around 50 % (source link). Other info:
- Time: GMT +2
- Electricity where we are staying is normal, British plugs
- Capital: Mbabane
- Currency: South African Rand, do accept bank cards.
- Vaccines needed: Hepatitis A. Hepatitis B. diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio. Yellow fever and Malaria (parts of the country.
- Weather in April (when we are going): average temperature ranges from around 16 degrees – 27 degrees. Maximum is at almost 40 degrees, and minimum is at 10 degrees.
We don’t know the itinerary yet until January but he gave us a rough outline (will probably change in future). We will take the plane to Johannesburg in South Africa, and be immediately picked up by the organizers of the camp and head out of the not quite so safe capital and towards Swaziland. The first two nights we will be staying at a Backpacker Lodge called Lidwala where there are proper beds and a swimming pool!
On day three we will be visiting somewhere called the King’s national Park where there is a lot of elephants (because the king loves them)! From day 4-10 we will be staying at the Mluwula nature reserve in a camp, sleeping in tents, and doing our main work and studying of the area. Mluwula nature reserve is situated in the Lubombo region, and part of the countries greatest concentration of nature reserves, known collectively as the Lubombo conservancy. The Mluwula Nature Reserve is an Swaziland National Trust Commission property, and in good condition and health (source link).
The reserve lies between the dry thorn savannas on the west, and the more moister coastal thickets of the east, and consists of three distinct ecological zones: The Ndzindza plataut, the Siphiso Valley and the rhyolite ridges of the western boundary. It is dominated by bush habitat, with steep sided forested ravines that drain northwards into the Mbulizi river (source link). The reserves wildlife is rich, and particularly in birds where there is recorded c. 350 different species of birds in the reserve alone which includes the African finfoot, African broadbill and the bateleur eagles. There are many small and large mammals in the park, but no elephants or lions, allowing the tourists to explore the area by foot without a guide. Reptiles include the Natal hinged tortoise and the Lubombo flat lizzard. Invertebrates include a large diversity of butterflies and moths too (source link)! Day 11 we visit the Mlawolotja nature reserve where there is apparently a massive zipp line we might be able to try!
A little video I found of the General wildlife in Swaziland from the Pig Game Parks! So excited to see some of these things!