Biology Class Travels to Africa

Posted on 9/15/2011 12:58:49 PM

The Biology Department sponsored a three-week study-abroad class in South Africa and Swaziland from July 14 through August 5, 2011.

Students and faculty from IUP (plus one student from Shippensburg) spent twenty-two days travelling through national parks, wildlife reserves, and a private game ranch to learn about the biology and the business of wildlife in the Republic of South Africa and the Kingdom of Swaziland. The group also visited cultural sites in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Biology Department study-abroad group in South Africa

The group travelled from Pittsburgh to Johannesburg and began their African experience with a visit to Soweto, the Mandela House, and the Apartheit Museum, followed by a cultural immersion experience at the Rooftop Market.

Next, they travelled to Kruger National Park for three days of viewing large and small wildlife in their natural habitat. The group observed numerous herbivores of many species, including the very rare sable antelope, at least fifty species of bird life, elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, cheetah, and leopard. There was also a close encounter with a pride of lions who wanted to cross the road where the group’s vehicle was parked.

In Swaziland, the group enjoyed two nights at a primitive bush camp complete with traditional Swazi dancers, observed rhinoceros at first hand, and visited a snake rescue facility in Simunye.

Africa 2011 - lionThe group continued south to the iSimangaliso UN World Biodiversity site on the Indian Ocean coast of South Africa and travelled on to Cape Town. In and around South Africa’s Mother City, the group toured Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, the Cape of Good Hope, and the penguin colony at Boulders Beach. Cape Town also offered cultural activities such as museums, shopping, restaurants, and a trip out to Robben Island. The trip ended at Marula Lodge near the Limpopo River, a working game ranch and nyala breeding facility, where students observed and participated in day-to-day activities.

This opportunity for travel and global learning has been offered as a summer option for IUP and PASSHE students since 1989. Faculty, staff, family, and friends may also participate.

Student participants in 2011 included Derek Clawson, Emily Hughes, Paige Wisniewski, and Laura Nelson. Faculty participants included Rita Drapkin and Nancy Schellinger. The faculty leader for the trip was Dr. Carl Luciano. You can contact him for more information at or 724-357-2352, or see the Biology Africa course website.