One of the greatest challenges when undertaking any new endeavor is attempting to cross the barrier of entry. It may be scary or too intimidating to even attempt to hurdle so many of us are put off. But with the help of Operation Wallacea they give you a step ladder that helps you jump over that barrier of entry into the scientific community with ease.

With Opwall’s, aid you can be directly involved in South Africa wildlife research by helping perform many different scientific methods. One of which is a “game transect”. This is a path within a game reserve that best represents the environment and covers a large range of animal habitats. While performing this game transect, you, along with the rest of your volunteer research assistant team record necessary data such as GPS coordinates, direction, distance, sex and species of various South African wildlife you see along your path. This technique is commonly used for monitoring large mammals and animals that can cover large distances. This method is simple but robust enough to be used for many animals and in even more environments.

Game transects are a form of distance sampling so when you encounter a heard of antelope the angle and distance data you collect is put into a trigonometric formula that is used to record the location of the animals. If and when you encounter many species like antelope, zebra, wildebeest and giraffe do not travel and separate individually and live within a herd structure they can be considered a single unit. When you perform your transects you will determine distance data through a range finder and you will perform multiple transects on your trip to cover many different habitats within the reserve because different animals can be found in different areas and you need to be able to sample the different environments equally to avoid bias.

While on site in South Africa you will then be responsible for logging this data you collected in the field into spreadsheets and specific wildlife software so that it can be properly compiled and presented to the authorities in charge of the game reserve in the form of population density estimates, presence or absence of species, preferential habitat and movement patterns of large mammal herbivores.

The work that you perform through Opwall is significant and important for not only the people that live around the reserves but it’s vital for the animals within it. On my 3 week stay in Somkhanda Game Reserve, I’ve performed many game transects that have enabled me to see many spectacular species that call South Africa home such as rhino, lion, buffalo, giraffe, elephant, zebra, three different species of monkey and even more antelope species.  Not only have I had an experience of a lifetime that I never would have believed I could do but I also have had a direct impact on conservation efforts for critically endangered species.

As science student graduated from college and university I have finally been able to perform worth while important research that has an impact on the world and wellbeing of wildlife. However, the beauty of Opwall is that you don’t need to be a science student or a student at all. Everyone has something to offer and has the ability to have an impact on the world around us.

Sincerely, Adam Kuzniecov

 

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