My field trips to Borneo and South Africa

Megan Buckingham studied Animal Management at Pencoed College before coming to USW to study International Wildlife Biology. Here Megan talks about the amazing experiences she’s had on the IWB course, thanks to the field trips and her final year project.

Fantastic field trips

"In the first year we went to South Africa for our Big Game Tracking and African Biodiversity modules, and learnt how to identify animals such as lion and springbok by their tracks and signs.

Throughout the trip, I learnt how to conduct vegetation surveys and bird surveys, and write up scientific reports on the results. Seeing lions, elephants and giraffes in the wild was one of the highlights of this trip. We also had a reptile encounter day where we got up close with some of the awesome snakes of South Africa.

Borneo was our second year field trip, where we went snorkelling and scientific diving every day, conducting coral reef and fish surveys. Swimming near a blacktip reef shark was an incredible experience. We then moved to Danau Girang Field Centre where we conducted our own mini research projects and observed the amazing wildlife around the centre such as orangutan, crocodiles and water monitors."

Final year project

"It was great to conduct a research project of my own choice; I chose to do mine on iguanas as I am most interested in reptiles.

For my research project, I travelled to a small Caribbean island in Central America called Utila. I stayed at the Kanahau Utila Research and Conservation Facility, which conducts projects to help conserve species across the island, such as the Critically Endangered Utila spiny-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura bakeri), which was the focus of my project. I conducted a population study on the iguanas to get an idea of their current numbers and to support their conservation assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This work supported ongoing research by the University of South Wales.

The highlights were working out in the field and surveying iguanas in the remote habitats of mangrove swamp forests. I loved being able to assist with the tagging and radio tracking of the iguanas, excavating the nest sites and processing the hatchlings before releasing them in a safe area.

Seeing other reptile species in the wild such as boa constrictors and vine snakes was incredible, but witnessing loggerhead turtles hatching out on the beach and making their way to the ocean is an experience I will never forget!"