Internship structure

The design of your internship depends entirely on your interests and your academic requirements. Our research interests lie with species adaptation to changing environments, species competition and animal vigilance. Mogalakwena reserves have a high biodiversity and your research questions can be answered by studying our birds, primates, herbivores, carnivores, reptiles, invertebrates and/or vegetation of the sweet arid bushveld. Most of our students decide upon a research question and a study species before they arrive at Mogalakwena. They will then spend the duration of their stay doing their own research project, while contributing and building on our existing database. On average you will spend 6 hours per day collecting data in the field, 4 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. During the hottest hours of day (between 12 and 3 in summer) you might prefer not to be in the field, unless you are studying the coping mechanisms of animals in the heat or if you absolutely love the African sun.

First week:
– Orientation and information session about the history and structure of the MRC and the safety rules.
– First field session accompanied by our research assistant who will teach you animal tracks and signs, show you how to navigate in the reserve and introduces you to species identification.
– Form an idea on how you could organise your data collection.
– Discuss your ideas with the research manager and decide on a suitable research project.

Second week:
– Develop your research methods
– Formulate your rationale, research questions, objectives and hypotheses.
– Make a schedule to plan your research project according to the time period of your internship.
– Decide on your final research output (i.e. poster, scientific report, management plan)

Every week thereafter:
– You will collect your data during morning and afternoon field sessions.
– You explore scientific literature to support your research project.
– You write the introduction and material and methods.
– You will have individual meetings with the research manager to discuss your progress (i.e. methods, planning, statistical analyses, writing).
– You will explore the possibilities for the presentation of your results
– Every Friday we have a general meeting during which we discuss everyone’s progress. The meeting is attended by all the students, research assistants and the research manager.

Final two weeks:
– You will finish data collection and organise your data.
– Finish your statistical analyses.
– Write your discussion
– Present your project to the students at the MRC.
– Hand-in your final research output.

Besides working on your own project, you can participate in and/or organise other activities such as:
– Join other students for a day and learn about their research.
– Workshop on how to use certain software (ie. reference manager, R Studio, cybertracker)
– Visits to the local school and assist the ‘Children in the Wilderness’ program.
– Educational visits of the school children to Mogalakwena.
– Reconstructing a skeleton for exhibition in the eco-centre.
– Visit our local businesses: the Craft Art Centre and Botanica Natural Products.
– Visit Mapungubwe or Kruger National Park for a game drive.
– Journal club to discuss scientific articles.
– Join researchers in collecting their data (i.e. bird ringing, nest box competition project)