A short two weeks since out grasses weekend, we were off to Kgaswane for the wetlands, catchments and rivers weekend. On arrival we were greeted by the beautiful scenery at Kgaswane and for a lucky few, a wonderful sighting of a large heard of Eland.
Everyone managed to set up tents without the rain interfering and our joy was further amplified by the fact that we did not have the usual Friday night written test to study for, instead we went through our assignment criteria before dinner.
On Saturday we woke up early and exchanged stories of scops owls and jackals calling during the night and even a spotted genet sighting. We then headed to a very engaging lecture on wetlands catchments and rivers, presented by Maria Cazzavillan. We also utilized walks between lectures to identify grasses that we were becoming more familiar with and took notes of which grasses and trees occurred in our assignment ecosystem (wetlands, rocky slopes or grasslands).
The afternoon was spent doing practical assessments which included, among others, testing the pH, nitrates, turbidity of the water. We ended the day with sundowners near ‘mushroom rock’ which provided a wonderful view of the reserve, followed by an evening braai.
Sunday continued with more hands-on practical’s as we trawled the riverbeds for macro-organisms to identify. As we waded through the wetlands of Kgaswane it was difficult to reconcile that wetlands are some of the most threatened and fastest disappearing inland waters in South Africa.
Living is urban societies and being so far removed from nature, it is easy to forget how dependent we are on it to survive and so the weekend outdoors allowed us to appreciate the nature around us and as Maria emphasized, it is through education that we will be able to conserve these rich habitats.
As we headed home, we already looked forward the next module where we will be learning about trees at Borakalalo.
Editors Note: Thanks to student Megan Griffiths for this account of the wetlands weekend, a first visit to Kgaswane for most of our students.