Alumni Spotlight: Amy Doherty

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program, because I knew that I would be having a positive impact on the conservation of animals. Also, I have always wanted to see animals in the wild. I also wanted to meet lots of new people that share the same passion I do, and to experience the rich culture of South Africa. I have always seen documentaries of South Africa and to actually be there was incredible.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My program provider assisted me with finding a program that was suitable for me. They also assisted me with finding additional accommodation and choosing what travel insurance I needed. They also helped me to know how much cash I needed to bring and whether I needed a visa or not. I had to organize my flights on my own.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Be open minded and don't go into the program with any expectations, just take every day as it comes. Make sure that you bring warmer clothes even in the Summer. Bring plenty of entertainment too. Try to stay in the present and enjoy the sounds and sights of the bush. If you go to Imfolozi make sure to go down to the rock, because the views you get are breathtaking and you might even see elephants or rhinos.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

You wake up at 4am to go out for a drive at 4.30am and on the drive you'll be on the back of a vehicle using telemetry to pick up the animal’s radio collars so you can track and monitor them. You also need to record this information on a sheet, and any priority species you see need to be recorded too. You will have a hot drink and rusks break at some point on the drive too.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was having to go on a plane, because I'm very scared of flying. I overcame this fear by taking deep breaths and thinking that the only way I was going to get to South Africa was to fly on the plane. My views on this issue changed, because I got used to the feel of being in the air and the turbulence wasn't too bad.
Write and answer your own question.

What is your highlight of the experience?

My highlight of the whole experience was when a lion came extremely close to the car and he was growling at us. Not long before that a lioness, his mate had come the other side of the car just as close, and I could hear her roaring too! My heart was racing and my adrenaline was very high.