Into the Wild | by Ntsakisi Matelakengisa
As a young girl, I would never have thought that I could ever have loved being out in the wild, seeing the beautiful animals and driving around the scenic nature routes as much as I did. But, luckily for me, I got to grow up with a family that enjoyed going to areas such as the Kruger National Park and this gave my love a chance to grow even more.
Visits to the Kruger Park was always fun for me because I got excited to see the animals, but I was especially excited to spot the Big Five out in the wild. Going out into the wild may seem a bit scary to others but to me, it is not, especially if you want a place to get away and relax, away from all the busy things that go on in our daily lives.
When wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life it is always nice to go somewhere relaxing and calming. The African bushveld for instance is a place where you can truly get away and have a very peaceful time. Being surrounded by nature and animals sounds peaceful to me. There are many activities which one can do when out in the wild, this may include game drives, bush walks, birding, wildlife photography, the list goes on. Game drives are rather exciting especially when done in the morning when you can all the beautiful wildlife about to start their day.
South African Wildlife
In South Africa, we are lucky enough to have a very wide variety of wildlife. From zebra, impala, greater kudu, blue wildebeest, warthog, Cape buffalo, giraffe, and hippo. There are also black and white rhinoceros (square-lipped rhinoceros & hook-lipped rhinoceros), African elephant, African wild dog, cheetah, leopard, lion, and spotted hyena. These are just some of the ‘bigger’ animals which can be spotted whilst on Safari in South Africa.
Some of these animals are part of the main attractions of the wildlife which are the Big 5 which consists of the Africa Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Lion, Black Rhino and Leopard. The combination of predator and mighty terrestrial mammals makes for once in a lifetime sightings of some of the world’s most impressive species. South Africa is also home to the Little 5 which you can learn about in the EcoTraining Little Five Quiz.
For those wanting to see the wildlife in their natural habitats can do so. Although the country is renowned for its proliferation of wildlife species, there are certain nature parks and reserves that are must-sees for those who want an up-close and personal experience with these animals in their natural habitat.
The following are all situated in and around South Africa
- EcoTraining Kruger National Park Camps
- The Greater Kruger Area (where some of the most famous lodges call home)
- Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve (Kwa-Zulu Natal)
- Pilansberg National Park (North West Province)
- Addo Elephant National Park (Eastern Cape)
- Shamwari Private Game Reserve (Eastern Cape)
- iSimangaliso Wetland Park (East Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal)
- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Northern Cape)
- Tsitsikamma National Park (located on the garden route of Western Cape and Eastern Cape)
These are just some of the nature reserves located in South Africa where you can go and relax as well as see some of the incredible wildlife in which South Africa has to offer.
While the big game animals are extremely impressive, there are also numerous scenic regions and incredible vegetation through South Africa, not to mention some breathtaking birding!
And something that is just as amazing, in one of the biggest nature reserves in South Africa, the Kruger National Park, there are 336 species of trees in the park. These include the Baobab, Marulas, and Fever trees. The Kruger National Park has tremendous botanic diversity. While these game reserves house many wildlife animals and vegetation there is also birdlife. The birdlife includes many types of Eagle species, hawks, parrots, hornbills, and many more.
Wildlife is an essential part of our lives. It is important to us as humans to be able to connect to what is around us and what better way to do that then with the wildlife that surrounds us.
Wildlife & Conservation
It is also crucial to conserve the wildlife that we are surrounded by, and in doing this we are ensuring that future generations can enjoy the natural world and the incredible species that live within it. To help protect wildlife, it is important to understand how species interact within their ecosystems and how they are affected by environmental and human influences. At EcoTraining, there are many courses which are offered; one of them being a Professional Field Guide Course which helps educate students about wildlife, ecosystems, the web of life, and nature in general.