Wildtrax is focused on developing an integrative study abroad and field training course where students play an integral role in the success of these research initiatives. The diverse courses, research and experiential learning opportunities for students provide the foundation for understanding the dynamic interface among sociology, ecology and wildlife management. Scientific principles and human dimensions are used to develop strategies and techniques for managing natural and cultural resources. Experiencing the socio-political and ecological variables in Botswana will help students gain an understanding of how culture and ecology are vital aspects to developing successful conservation efforts. Students play an active role in the research from project design, to data collection and implementation and will gain valuable skills and knowledge to equip them for their future. Our comprehensive program ensures that today’s students are prepared to deliver a better tomorrow for people and wildlife! 


PROGRAM OBJECTIVES


The overall objectives are to equip students and interns with adequate knowledge of various wildlife management and conservation issues in Africa and to attain proficiency in field research methodologies. An emphasis will be placed on understanding the patterns and underlying processes of the human-wildlife interface and biodiversity of the Okavango Delta. The programs’ objectives will be fulfilled through students’ participation in Wildlife ACT’s two main research focuses and thus provide a constructive feedback system for successful conservation efforts in Africa. 

The programs’ objectives are to:

  • Learn valuable wildlife management and conservation principles
  • Understand the challenges facing wildlife conservation & community based natural resource management 
  • Observe the ecological organization and biodiversity of the Okavango Delta and surrounding ecosystems
  • Develop advanced field research techniques and associated skills 
  • Understand the social aspects of conservation science
  • Train future conservationists in understanding and applying research in the field through:
    • Research design & methodologies
    • Data collection & analysis 
    • Application and implementation of data
    • Long-term sustainable conservation management projects


STUDENT OPPORTUNITIES 


Choose from three of our opportunities of a life time! 

1. Student Internship and Experiential Learning – Students looking for an internship or experiential learning in-between their studies or during their vacation times, are able to join Wildlife ACT in the field. Students have the option of completing a variety of certified courses offered as self-study courses while on the research project to maximizing their field experience. Working in a unique environment with high wildlife densities and dynamic ecosystems provides the perfect classroom for students from any science background. Students joining us will be trained in science and conservation field techniques that they can then add to their CV’s, as well as providing a base with which to develop their careers. 

2. Study Abroad Summer – Students have then opportunity of completing an 8-week summer module on African Wildlife Ecology & Community Conservation Research Field Training Studies in Botswana to earn credit towards their degree. Overviews of wildlife ecology, behavior, conservation and research theory are included in the first week of lecture series, presented by Wildtrax Explorations, Wildlife ACT, and the Okavango Research Institute. Students are placed for two 3-week periods at different research sites where they will be trained on many different research and monitoring methodologies and fully understand their applications, along with completing a mini-research project on the data they collect.

3. Research Opportunities - Students that may be interested in developing their own research projects focused on conservation ecology, wildlife monitoring & management and human-wildlife conflict also have the option of joining us. Our field sites and research activities provide the perfect research environment for undergraduates through to Masters and PhD students from international universities. Academic support can be provided through research scholars & supervisors at the Okavango Research Institute along with supervision from Wildtrax Explorations.



RESEARCH FOCUS


Biodiversity Monitoring 
Research initiatives are focused on highlighted conservation priorities within Botswana's ecosystems and conservation areas. In order to address these topics, Wildlife ACT has partnered with the Okavango Research Institute (ORI) of the University of Botswana and Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP). Highlighted conservation priorities in Botswana include Human-Wildlife Conflict and Biodiversity monitoring in different Ecoregions. By collaborating with international universities and their students, we are able to work towards research and management objectives for both the human-wildlife conflict study, as well as the implementation of the long-term biodiversity monitoring throughout Botswana. 

Goal
To monitor and record biodiversity dynamics within Ecoregions of Botswana in order to inform adaptive management cycles and develop new policy.

Objectives 

  • Record and quantify potential drivers of change in the Ecoregions; wildlife, human or climate induced. 
  • Monitor the broader mammal, bird and invertebrate populations and vegetation to improve our understanding of the system.
  • Develop adaptive management strategies while continually monitoring system responses to the applied management actions. 


Students will be trained on research methodologies used in fulfilling the above objectives and play an active role in collecting and constructing the data. 


The monitoring is implemented continuously with some survey work conducted bi-annually and includes the following activities:

Bi-annual Survey Transects

  1. Bird nesting sites (key species) and bird transects (completed during February and November) to monitor floodplain and terrestrial bird life. Through bi-annual transects  in conjunction with Bird Life Botswana we will help with the development of a​ Wild Bird Index for the area. 
  2. Wildlife Population Trends (strip transects) 
  3. Wildlife Population Structure (herbivore sex ratios & yearling rec.), which will be included in the above strip transects
  4. Static Photo records (woody vegetation and seasonal floods).​


Continuous Monitoring

  1. Rainfall records (rain gauge)
  2. Flood level (meter gauges daily or weekly)
  3. Predator monthly summary (basic assessment of prides etc.)
  4. Predation off-takes / selection (i.e. sightings of kills)
  5. Poaching Incident reports (simple reports - not patrols) 
  6. Human Wildlife Conflict reports 
  7. Presence of invasive and exotics plants 
  8. Fire Occurrence (fire scars / presence / location - simple records), supporting ORI’s long term database of fire occurrence through the introduction of the Advanced Fire Information Systems (AFIS)
  9. Unusual events (rare sightings). Following up on these events using visual or camera trapping to identify individuals.
  10. Specific focus on threatened spp. / indicator spp. The 20 Birds of Conservation Concern will be concentrated and follow-ups on occurrence and distribution within the area will be performed


Human – Wildlife Conflict (HWC) Project

Wildlife ACT will be assisting the ORI with research on human-wildlife conflict, which is a complex management and conservation issue in Botswana. Few studies have been conducted to fully understand the ecological and social patterns and underlying processes of human-wildlife interactions in arable agro-ecosystems in Botswana. Yet, information on spatial patterns, environmental predictors and socio-economic aspects of HWC are required in order to devise effective mitigation and adaptation strategies.

The project Wildlife ACT interacts with, concentrates investigations in HWC ‘hotspot’ areas of northern Botswana, namely the Okavango Delta in Ngamiland District. A country-wide assessment of status and trends of HWC will be made by exploring data compiled by the DWNP over the past three decades. Additional data will be collected to validate the data previously collected by DWNP. Data from this project will contribute crucial information to the Government of Botswana about the processes and underlying patterns of HWC in hotspot areas. Such information will be useful in designing effective HWC mitigation strategies and suggesting alternative land use plans to reduce HWC, which is essential for the success of national and regional conservation strategies, such as the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area, which now includes the the area East of the Okavango Delta (NG 1 - 4). Wildlife ACT sits on a Human Wildlife Conflict focus group, looking to develop a larger working group, which much of this information, data and understanding feeds into.

The overall objective is to establish a greater understanding of the patterns and underlying processes of human-wildlife interactions in the dynamic arable agro-ecosystems of northern Botswana and how this understanding can assist with mitigation and policy development.

Wildlife ACT actively assists in the following HWC objectives: 

  • Determine the current status and trends in incidents of HWC and map the spatio-temporal distribution of HWC.
  • Monitoring livestock depredation from predators.
  • Explore the effectiveness of current mitigation techniques for predation on livestock, to then develop and test innovative techniques.


FIELD TRAINING tHROUGHOUT ALL PROGRAMS


Students will learn, understand and practice each of these survey methodologies at each of the research camps. 

  • Herbivore Survey Methods: Strip transects and point counts 
  • Predator Survey Methods: Spoor transects and camera trapping 
  • Bird Surveys: Terrestrial point counts and wetland continuous counts, vulture nest monitoring
  • Camera Trapping: Grid survey and predator identification
  • Invertebrate Sampling Methods: Night-light, net sampling and pitfall traps
  • Wildlife Corridors: Activity and use monitoring
  • Community: Wildlife co-existence monitoring


Students will learn and be competent in the following skills before they leave:


  • Create a predator identikit (Identify species, sex and age of predators)
  • Conduct a predator spoor (animal tracks) transect
  • Set up a camera trap, collect photos, review & enter data
  • Complete large herbivore transects & enter data
  • Identify habitat types within the study areas, by identifying different types of grass, shrub and tree species
  • Conduct a bird survey, learning to identify different species of birds
  • Conduct an invertebrate survey
  • Determine coordinates with GPS
  • Identify and determine ungulate herd demographics 
  • Determine species richness and large herbivore and predator abundance of an area using camera trap and transect data
  • Assist with human-wildlife co-existence data collection and when possible, mitigation strategies
  • Identify and report poaching incidences
  • Identify and report predator attacks on domestic animals
  • Work and interact with a research team, learning about logistics, data input and management


STUDY ABROAD OVERVIEW


Date: June 4 - July 29, 2017
Duration: 8 weeks 
University Credit: 6 (depending on the students University)
Location: Okavango Delta, Botswana
All-inclusive course Fees: $6,900

Wildlife Ecology & Community Conservation Research Field Training Studies 

The course objectives are to equip students with an ability to decipher and adapt applicable research techniques to field studies (LISTED ABOVE). Overviews of conservation strategies, research theory, hypothesis construction, methods, field sampling techniques, data management and analysis techniques are included in a 1-week lecture series presented by Wildtrax Explorations, Wildlife ACT, and Okavango Research Institution (ORI). The course includes both scientific and social aspects to data collection to prepare students for their interactions with communities and different cultures. Students are then placed at different research sites where they apply their new skills, completing mini-research projects on the data they collect. The programs’ objectives will be fulfilled through students’ participation in Wildlife ACT’s two main research focuses and thus provide a constructive feedback system for successful conservation efforts in Africa.


Study Abroad Course Work Focus


University of Botswana’s Okavango Research Institute 
​ORI is an institution for the study and conservation of one of the world's largest and most intact inland wetland ecosystems - the Okavango Delta - as well as other southern African wetlands, river basins, watersheds and surrounding dry lands. ORI is situated near Maun, Botswana on the fringe of the Okavango Delta and has over 50 research and development projects in progress in a wide range of scientific fields, many in collaboration with international partners. ORI has a library, a herbarium and laboratories for biology, chemistry and Geographic Information Systems, which hosts the Okavango Delta Information System, a geospatial data repository covering the Okavango Delta and Basin. 

ORI Research Field Training Courses
​The courses will utilize ORI’s comprehensive knowledge and unique location to focus the political, managerial, and practical dimensions of development and conservation. Based on a thorough theoretical grounding, the students will gain first-hand experience through case studies, practical assignments, excursions and discussions with stakeholders.


Lecture Series 

  • Introduction to Botswana & the Okavango Delta
  • African wildlife conservation - Current status & issues bridging the gap between management & research
  • Herbivore & Carnivore Ecology, Conservation & research techniques
  • Ecosystem Monitoring field methodologies
  • Introduction to GIS & its applications
  • Human - Wildlife conflict & community conservation
  • Behavior Ecology
  • Standardized natural resource monitoring in Botswana 


Field Training 
In addition to participating in the on-going wildlife monitoring and training on field research methodologies listed above, students will also have the opportunity to complete a mini project in groups of 2-3. This project will culminate in a final  poster and report focusing on one aspect of the fieldwork completed during the program. Writing this final project will require a strong sense of cooperation, diligence, and time management. Students will also have to opportunity to present their final research in Botswana.


Study Abroad Students will also get to be a tourist for a bit!

The following additional activities are included:

  • Four day excursion to Victoria Falls
  • Game Drive into Chobe National Park
  • Game Drive into Moremi Game Reserve
  • Boat trip on the Chobe River into the Chobe National Park
  • Traditional Dug-out canoe (mekoro) day trip in the Okavango Delta


INTERNSHIP COURSE WORK FOCUS
Wildlife ACT is providing a unique opportunity for students who are interested in furthering their education and acquiring skills in the field of community and wildlife conservation research to join their team in Botswana throughout the year. The student’s time in the field will include training on multiple research and wildlife monitoring methodologies, while fulfilling the objectives of the two main research focuses of Wildlife ACT on biodiversity monitoring studies or human-wildlife conflict studies. 

Students will have the option of completing a variety of certified ONLINE self-study courses while on the research project. The courses are completed at any time of the year out in the field, maximizing field experience for students. If an applicant is a registered STUDENT, the coursework is NOT compulsorily. However, if the applicant is not a registered student, they will have to complete one of the certified courses while conducting research. These courses are specifically designed to better prepare the students for their experience in Botswana, thus courses are highly recommended to students while working with us. 

Wildlife Campus Course Work 
Course work has been specifically designed to prepare and educate students on the ecology, biology and conservation of Africa in order to prepare them for their experience. All courses are offered through the reputable and accredited international distance-learning provider, Wildlife Campus. They offer a wide variety of wildlife- related, natural science and ecotourism courses covering the spectacular diversity of life found on our planet and specifically on African savannas. Wildlife ACT has selected a number of specific courses that are suited to the wildlife research they do in Botswana. By completing the courses, students will receive a variety of industry recognized, endorsed and accredited qualifications or simply enjoy a deeper understanding of the African bush. 

Required Pre-departure Courses

Discover Botswana

This discovery course explores the ecology, people and wildlife of Botswana.  A brief, yet informative overview of the climate, geography, various habitats and interesting places is outlined in the ecology module. An interesting overview of the history of the people of Botswana up until the modern-day Botswana and its cities is part of the People module. In the wildlife module all the various mammal, reptile & bird species are explained alongside some notable trees and habitats to be found in Botswana.


Introduction to Dangerous Wildlife Behaviour

​An introduction to dangerous wildlife students will encounter and how to deal with them from a vehicle and on foot. Species include: Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo & Rhinoceros.  The course also includes understanding vital warning signals from these species and how best to respond to these signals, ensuring their safety while in the field.


Understanding Elephant Conservation in Southern Africa

Elephant conservation is a ‘hot-topic’ in Africa at the moment, with many different views and opinions on what to be done about over-population in some areas and intensive poaching in others. In this publication Prof Rudi van Aarde, from the University of Pretoria, addresses some of the less than factual generalizations that dominate discussions on elephant management. Most of the information presented stems from more than a decade of intensive academic research on elephant populations in southern African countries such as Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.


Required Course during Research Program (if not a registered student)
African Biology & Ecology
This 2-month course covers a wide range of subjects, including an overview of taxonomy and the invertebrate and vertebrate classes and species in Africa, plant biology and African ecology. Animal species-specific modules include information on habitat selection, feeding & reproduction ecology and the conservation status of threatened species. There are also a number of interesting elective courses which are relevant for field ecologists in Africa, covering subjects like animal tracks & signs, snake-bite first aid, eco-tourism, astronomy and navigation in the bush.

Elective Courses
Human Wildlife Conflict Course for Students in the Chobe Enclave 
​This 2-week course introduces students to Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) in Africa. An animal or bird becomes a Problem Animal when it competes in a destructive manner for human resources or becomes a danger to human life. HWC is a serious management and conservation issue in Botswana. HWC research and mitigation strategies have been highlighted as important activities by the Government of Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks. Wildlife ACT assists in an on-going human-wildlife conflict study run by the University of Botswana and the Okavango Research Institute in Northern Botswana. This course explores these types of conflicts and resolutions and is essential to any student working in these conflict zones.

Animal Behaviour of Iconic African Wildlife 
​To gain insight into what an animal is doing and to research it in the field, it is necessary to recognize the type of activity (or inactivity) in which it is engaged. The number and variety of large animals on view out in the open in Africa is unequalled anywhere else in the world making it a perfect place to develop a better understanding of animal behaviors. This 2-week introductory course provides students with a broad understanding of animal behaviors and what to look for and covers the iconic and priority species in Africa. 

Advanced courses Animal Behaviour of all Southern African Wildlife Species
A detailed 2-month course which covers the ecology and behavior of each of the mammal species to be found in Southern Africa.

African Wildlife Tracks & Signs
This detailed 2-month course will help researchers and conservationists, who spend considerable time in the field, to learn about the activities of the wildlife around them, training you to understand where to look, how to look, what to look for and how to interpret what you are looking at.


FIELD SITES & ACCOMMODATION


MAUN

On arrival into Maun, Botswana, student’s will stay at a gated campsite in twin dome tents. There are male and female communal bathrooms with basins, showers and toilets. Hot water is provided via solar geysers. Communal laundry facilities are available to students with detergent for washing clothes provided.

A communal kitchen and dining area are situated within the campsite. Meals will be prepared together with other Wildlife ACT students. Food for three basic meals each day will be provided along with drinking water. 

RESEARCH CAMPS

Wildlife ACT coordinates and runs mobile research camps in and around the Okavango Delta area to implement the biodiversity monitoring and perform human wildlife coexistence research. The region is rich in diversity and home to important populations of endangered predators and threatened wildlife species. Wildlife ACT focuses their monitoring and research where population baseline monitoring data is most needed and where where human-wildlife conflict is the greatest.

Student’s stay in twin dome tents on cots and have male/female long drop toilets and bucket shower facilities. Meals are prepared by an in-house chef in an open communal tent dining area. The fire is burning every night under the magnificent African skies full of bright stars, the Milky Way, and listening to the sounds of the bush!


*Locations of the field sites and amenities might change depending on the location of research


iNTERNSHIP COSTS


Included
This covers all your accommodation, food and transport between projects, as well as park entry fees for any activities or fieldwork and a contribution towards fuel and running costs for Wildlife ACT projects. *Please note when in town that we accommodate our students at the local backpackers where they will be camping.

Excluded
All travel & flight costs to Maun or Kasane, Botswana, are for students to cover. During our trips to Maun or Kasane, students will be expected to cover their own food costs, unless it is an unplanned trip. Students should expect to have 1 night every 2 weeks in town. Luxury or unusual food items, including soda drinks, alcohol, sweets and chocolate are for your own account.

Participation Fees for Internship 
First 4-weeks USD 2,550
Subsequent 2-weeks USD 1,100
Roundtrip Airport Transfer fee: $150 

​Wildlife Campus Course Fees  (if not a registered student)
African Biology & Ecology USD 425 (2-months minimum)​

Electives:
Human Wildlife Conflict USD125 (2-week minimum)
Animal Behaviour of Iconic African Wildlife USD150 (2-week minimum)

Advanced electives:
African Wildlife Behaviour – all species USD 415 (2-months minimum)
African Wildlife Tracks and Signs USD 185 (1-month minimum)

*Subject to change dependent on Exchange rate fluctuations


INTERNSHIP dATES


Internship Arrival and Departure Dates (4-week minimum stay):

Our arrival and departure dates are as follows. Please be sure to stick to these dates – if you are not able please be sure to discuss it with us.

2016

  • 12 or 26 September
  • 10 or 24 October
  • 7 November (3 weeks)


(The projects are shut down for the month of December)

2017

  • 4 January
  • 6 February
  • 6 March
  • 3 April
  • 1 May
  • 31 July
  • 28 August
  • 26 September
  • 23 October
  • 30 October 



African Wildlife & Community Conservation Research -- Botswana


Join Wildtrax in AFRICA doing REAL CONSERVATION with Wildlife ACT conducting REAL RESEARCH for REAL SOLUTIONS! 

Through following our vision at Wildtrax, we have teamed up with the only wildlife monitoring organization in Africa, Wildlife Africa Conservation Team (Wildlife ACT), to provide students access to sustainable research and monitoring projects. Their mission is to save our planets’ endangered and threatened wildlife and wildlands from extinction and Wildtrax wants to create opportunities for students to be part of this mission. Both entities identify science and education as key components to the sustainable utilization and management of wildlife resources; thus, pur collaboration achieves a comprehensive study abroad program in the Okavango Delta of Botswana.

Wildlife ACT has two main research initiatives in Botswana, implementing biodiversity monitoring in collaboration with Botswana’s Department of Wildlife & National Parks and conducting human-wildlife conflict studies and implementing mitigation strategies with the University of Botswana’s Okavango Research Institute. Students play an active role in the research through data collection and implementation and will gain valuable skills and knowledge to equip them for their future.