ESSM News & Events 2014 The 2014 ESSM Study Abroad class recently spent a month in South Africa. The course was led by Bob Shaw. Eleven students made the trip: Allysa Amjad – Senior – ANSCBrandon Burks – Senior – RENRPayton Duvall-Freymuller – Senior – BESCSean Gibson – Senior – RENRElizabeth Harpole – Sophomore – RENRJanell Nuno – Senior – WFSCAdriana Pantazis – Senior – BIMSAmy Siller – Senior – ANSCKyle Warren – Senior – ANSCAndrea Wiley – Graduate Student – NRDV The course began in Cape Town. The group visited Robbin Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for a number of years. We were fortunate enough to have a guide (Lionel Davies) who spent seven years in prison with Mandela. The group visited Table Mountain National Park which protects the Cape Floristic Region. This is the smallest, yet most diverse flora kingdom. Other sights visited included Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope, Boulders Penguin Colony, and Signal Hill. We were fortunate enough to see the endangered Bontebok. Ten of the students took the opportunity to go shark diving to get up close and personal with the Great White Shark! We also visited a township and had a wine tasting. We left Cape Town and proceeded north in route to the Kalahari Desert, passing through the West Coast National Park, Cederberg Mountains and Augrabies Falls National Park. The group spent two nights at Twee Rivieren Rest Camp in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park which encompasses large areas of South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. We were fortunate enough to see large numbers of gemsbok, springbok, blue wildebeest, zebra, giraffes and sociable weavers. Regrettably, the famous black mane lions of the Kalahari were nowhere to be found. The next two days we traversed most the width of South Africa in route to Kruger National Park. In Kruger we participated in night game drives, guided game walks with armed wardens, and long hours in the van searching for wildlife. It took us no time to see the big five – lion, leopard, white rhino, elephant, and water buffalo. We were fortunate to also see the African wild dog, the most successful predator but now endangered due to habitat loss and poaching. After five-nights in Kruger, we proceeded just outside of the park boundary to the Southern African Wildlife College. The group visited numerous wildlife reserves, Witwatersrand University research area and Blyde River Nature Reserve. The stay was highlighted by a visit to the village where Jim Buck (TAMU former student) has his home. We were treated to entertainment by local native dancers followed by a feast. Several students took the opportunity to have their future told by the local sangoma. The last major part of the trip was a visit to the Ivy Safaris. Students had the opportunity to hunt if they desired, learned about game ranching integrated with livestock production, and enjoyed the hospitality of Mark, Lisa, Carissa, and Danielle.