We have been very busy at the Mapesu Research Programme the last few months.

We have released many animals onto the reserve as part of our goal of rewilding the area and creating an area renown for saving species from extinction.  We have also renovated the volunteer house and made it cater to more volunteers and students. We also welcome a new staff member that joined us in June. We are looking forward to Nadine sharing her knowledge and skills with us (read more about her at our Meet the Team section). With all of these additions to the reserve, we can now offer more research topics and experiences for our students.

Another major update is the upgrade to the research house.  We can now house 18 students and volunteers at one time: two twin rooms and three dorm-style rooms with separate male and female rooms.  We now have six separate toilets and showers…no more queuing up in the mornings! A room has been created as a staff room and research office too. We have revamped the living, study, and social area as well. The new Mapesu Wilderness Camp has been built across the road, and volunteers now have a swimming pool that they can enjoy when time allows!

For the second year running, we have hosted groups of UK veterinary students from various universities. They have all have successfully completed their EMS (Extra Mural Studies) pre-clinical placements with us, gaining new skills and knowledge, which is vital for their future careers.

One such student that we would like to mention is Nadine Closset from Belgium. She completed a 14-week internship with us. During her visit, she worked extremely hard on her undergraduate thesis: The effects of mopane bush clearing on biodiversity and grass composition in Mapesu Private Game Reserve, South Africa.  Nadine’s thesis aimed to get a better understanding of the ecological restoration taking place at Mapesu; this study was novel and has not been studied before. In total, 40 sites were selected where vegetation and bird surveys were conducted.  The results showed that biodiversity of birds is greater in the restored areas, and although there is greater grass coverage, it is of lesser nutritional quality. This study has opened up further questions for how best to re-wild Mapesu and has kick-started a long-term research project for years to come.

We are very proud of her achievement as she successfully completed her bachelors ‘cum laude’ with distinction – the greatest accolade!  This thesis also provides Mapesu with useful information for future management decisions, and for conservation on the reserve. Thank you and congratulations, Nadine!