Approximately two-hundred-thousand years after Homo sapiens sapiens first walked hand-in-hand across the southern African savanna, an excited group of wild-life enthusiasts gathered in the Pilanesberg to begin an educational journey in the fields of ecology, conservation and nature-appreciation. This is Bushveld Mosaic, class of 2019.
The first supper
The excited group of enthusiasts, after a braai and a rainstorm that blew a gazeebo onto Maria’s Land Rover, were immediately met by an ex-prison-warden… The ex-correctional-services officer introduced the group to the recipe for a positive attitude as well as highlighted the difficulties of playing Lego with your new friends.
And work starts (with a smile)
The group’s attitude had only begun to be influenced when they were left in the capable and somewhat abrasive hands of a Mr Ulrich Oberprieler – head of the educational centre at the National Zoological Garden in Pretoria and prolific South African bird-guide author.
Ulrich, in less than 16 hours, opened up the group’s mind to the natural history of the universe, the wilderness, humanity and the impact humankind has had on its surroundings. From Copernicus to Darwin, onward to Aldo Leopold and Bill Bryson, Ulrich illustrated the fundamental ideas behind a developed ecological intelligence – guiding the group’s mind set from an anthropocentric collective to an eco-centric one.
Of course the learning didn’t stop in the classroom. After a full day in the lecture halls, the Bushveld Mosaic class of 2019 found themselves hurriedly making a braai and tying down gazeebo’s so they would not blow away in the coming savanna thunderstorm. A few inches of water and a whole lot of wind later, a happy group sat eating their food and getting to know each other better.
The experience was unlike any bushveld experience the average South African could ever be a part of. The Bushveld Mosaic facilitators were full of titbits of information for the new participants and the journey was one of education, self-exploration and good old campsite antics.
After a Sunday morning lecture in taxonomy and the current status of conservation in South Africa, the weekend was over and it was time for the happy campers to go for one last game drive before heading home to consolidate their study notes and begin pulling hairs out over next month’s pen and paper test.
As a 27-year-old who loves the bushveld, I can definitely say that the first weekend of Bushveld Mosaic was an experience like no other. I will always remember and appreciate the things I learned and the people who taught them to me.
Ed’s Note: Special thanks to student Michael Hall for volunteering to provide the first website report for 2019, and to student Andrè Harmse for the photo’s. Have a great year everyone.