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Wildlife Ecology and Conservation department

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation department

UF in Swaziland - Wildlife Ecology

Check out photos from the 2011 Swaziland Trip here.

Check out photos from the 2012 Swaziland Trip here.

Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
Study Abroad Program, Summer A

More Information: Bob McCleery, (, 352-846-0566

Course Titles and Credits

WIS 4905 Conservation, Culture and Management (3 credits)
WIS 4905 African Savannah Wildlife Ecology (3 credits)

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an opportunity for hands-on learning in one of the most diverse and complex ecosystems on the planet. Students will learn field survival skills, wildlife and plant identification, wildlife research techniques, African wildlife ecology, and the linkages between conservation and social issues. Students will engage in many of Southern Africa's most pressing conservation issues, participate in community development projects, and gain an understanding and appreciation for the history and cultures of Southern Africa.

There are 4 major components of this course, encompassing many of the skills and knowledge necessary to understanding the principles of ecological research and broader global conservation issues.

There are 4 major components of this course:

  1. Field skills for ecological research: students will learn skills in orienteering and survival, plant and animal identification, animal trapping, survey techniques, and radio telemetry.
  2. Study design, analysis and interpretation: students will work in groups to develop, execute, and present the result of research projects conducted during the course. Lectures and pre-trip classes will help students to prepare for their research projects.
  3. African ecology and wildlife: students will learn about African ecosystems and the ecology of African vertebrates. They will be asked to observe and comment on the roles and interactions of populations and taxonomic groups within the African low-veld bush ecosystem.
  4. Conservation and culture: students will develop an understanding and appreciation of the region's culture and history through course field trips, lectures, and participation in community development projects. Throughout the course students will be exposed to conservation and social challenges throughout Southern Africa and the linkages between culture, society, and ecology.

The class will meet 4 times prior to leaving for Southern Africa. Classes prior to departure will help familiarize participants with the cultures, social context, and wildlife of Southern Africa, and will help students begin to develop research projects. This course will be centered at Nature Reserves in Swaziland and South Africa. Students will be surrounded by the ecosystem, wildlife, and cultures presented in the class. This hands-on approach allows students to directly engage in activities relevant to the course through experiential activities and opportunities, and should stimulate their desire to understand their surroundings. Lectures will emphasize African ecosystems, African vertebrate populations and conservation and social issues in Southern Africa. Field exercises will compliment lectures by allowing students to explore, view, and research the systems and populations presented. After returning from Africa students will meet to discuss analysis and presentation of data collected while in the field.

The intensive nature of the course will also allow students to immerse themselves in African low-veld ecology and gain an appreciation for the skill necessary for field work in this often harsh environment. Finally, this course is taught within the context of cultures of Southern Africa. Students will learn about Swazi culture through lectures and direct interactions with Africans field sites and working on community development projects. All topics will be presented from ecological and cultural perspectives so students can appreciate the depth of the issue facing southern Africa and Swaziland in particular.

Students in this course will have unprecedented access to the leading biologists in Swaziland. Dr. Ara Monadjem (Professor at the University of Swaziland), who helps teach the course and is the leading ecologist in the country with numerous books and publications on wildlife ecology. Additionally, guest lecturers Richard Boycott and Kim Roques have each managed nature reserves in the country and have conducted research there for the last 20 years. Dr. Robert McCleery lived in Swaziland in the mid 90's and has conducted research there for the last 8 years. Through lectures, field exercises and informal discussions, students will interact with scientists who have tackled conservation issues in the region first-hand.

Course Schedule

We will spend the first two day of the course in the Royal Ezulwini Valley, learning about Swazi culture and exploring local nature reserves. Then we will travel to the lowveld or "bush" to our research and education center in the Mbuluzi Game Reserve. We will stay in Mbuluzi where for the majority of the 20 day program (13 days). During our time there, will be joined by students from the University of Swaziland. Together we will conduct research and participate in field exercises. There will also be regularly scheduled lectures, discussions and day trips. We will then spend 5 day in Kruger National Park conducting a joint research project with OTS (organization for Tropical Studies). Finally, we will travel back to Swaziland and spend the final 2 nights back in Mbuluzi.


All logistics for this class will be conducted by All-out Africa. They are a Swaziland-based company with expertise in handling European and North American volunteers. Their services include all transportation, meals, lodging and camping, park entry, and cultural activities.

We will be stay at 3 separate localities during the trip. The first location is a backpacker's lodge in the center of the Swaziland. The second location is at UF's Savannah research and education center and the third location is at the Lower Sabie Camp at Kruger National park in South Africa.

Program fee includes:

Tuition for 6 credits, housing/camping, meals, transportation, park entry fees, day field trips, guest speakers, research equipment, international health insurance and emergency medical assistance.

Approximant costs for the course (does not include airfare)

$3,200 - undergraduates
$4,127 - graduates

Fees Due Upon Application: A $250 nonrefundable deposit toward the total cost of the program is required at the time of application. The remaining fees are due no later than 30 days prior to departure.

Applications considered on space-available basis, so please apply early. Please apply online at: