Zambia Trip 2013

On June 22nd, fifteen Pulteney students, three teachers and two Education Officers from ZoosSA headed off on the adventure of a lifetime. Members of the School’s Conservation Corps, the students were participants in the inaugural A-Z International Conservation Exchange in Mfuwe, Zambia. 

The Exchange, in partnership with ZoosSA and Zambia’s Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust (CWET) was a fantastic success. Students handled the 35 or so hours in transit with good humour and learnt a lot about managing in big international airports. Arriving in Mfuwe, we were greeted by a huge number of Chipembele students from Mfuwe Day Secondary School. We were over whelmed by the warm reception and the singing and dancing really let us know that finally, after two years of planning and preparation we were finally on African soil. 

Glimpses of the 24 day trip are best provided by the attached student quotes. Highlights included learning about village life, and teaching students about conservation issues in Australia, ongoing lectures from and outings with the Zambia Carnivore Project’s (ZCP) team of dedicated scientists who taught us about the dire state of Zambia’s large cats and Painted Dogs. The South Luangwa Conservation Society (SLCS) educated us about the dreadful impact of wire snares on animals. We saw first hand some injured animals. Human Wildlife conflict is very serious in Mfuwe and something we have not experienced at home.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Visits to locally run organic farms and art galleries filled us with inspiration. At sunrise, we were often woken by elephant families gently stepping past our chalets, snacking from trees as they went. Our days were interspersed with buffalo, giraffe, warthog, monkeys, impala – all wandering within sight of our Lodge. Evenings heralded the arrival of hippos up from the river to graze, and, according to footage on camera traps by our rooms, leopard and hyena also visited on occasion.  We knew we were truly blessed by the chance to be in such a place together.

As teachers, it was a delight to watch the Pulteney students grow and learn while we were away. All of us were in various ways pushed to learn a lot about ourselves and to reconsider our place in the world, what we truly value and how we want to spend our lives. This wasn’t always easy and to various extents our resilience was tested.

Our thanks go to the Pulteney School Board and Dr Groughan for supporting and believing in the School’s first venture to the African continent. We could not have gone on the trip without the assistance of Monarto Zoo staff, Emma Still, Carolyne Ryan and Ian Walton, and we are grateful for their guidance and support. Chipembele’s Anna and Steve Tolan, staff and students were fantastic hosts in Mfuwe and we can’t WAIT to return the hospitality next year. We would also like to thank the many Pulteney staff who, in various and important ways, helped get the trip off the ground.

Christina Jarvis, Michael Holmes, Daniel Polkinghorne.

See an inspirational video on thr trip from one of our students Chloe Grey.

Don't be put off by the shaky start, it represents how they feel going on this journey. It's definately worthwhile watching the whole 13 minutes of this moving video.

Click here to see Zambia video

And click here to see the BTN Extra story on the trip

Quotes from students on Zambia Trip 

“I chose to go on the Zambia trip because I have always been interested in Africa. When we got there, it lived up to all my exceptions. The people of Zambia were the nicest people I have ever met. They had such little to give but they went out of their way to make us welcome. The wildlife we saw was mind blowing, from elephants outside our rooms to watching a leopard hunt at night, we couldn’t have asked for more. I have gained so many friends from across the globe and  I can’t wait to go back. “

Will Bourchier  Yr 10

" I don't think I've ever felt like this about a country I've travelled to….

I feel Zambia has become part of my home and that part of me shall always stay here. To paraphrase from Perks of Being a Wallflower: 

If we don't continue to conserve the Earth in all her glory,
Our memories will be lost with the beauty of nature.
This is why we must look up at the stars,
right now, and ask ourselves;
Do we want our future kids to see them?
Do we want them to be able to see a Leopard stalking Impala, or a Wild dog watching her pups? Or a giraffe and elephant, with no bars blocking the view?
We have to act while the moments are NOT memories.
Before we are parents or grandparents or even great grandparents.
Because I know right now,
This is happening,
I am here
I can see it.
The world is still alive,
but we are the only ones who can keep it turning.
These past 20 days in Africa have been mind blowing. I have been with some of the best people I have ever known and shared some of the most important moments with.
I know that in this moment, we can still go out and Make A Difference, We Are Infinite "

Chloe-Sue Grey, Yr 11


Day 4

These past few days have been the most intense and interesting of my life. I’ve met so many new people who are so enthusiastic and full of life. The students that I’ve got to know really well (Elias, who took me around his village, and George, who took me around school) have been so kind and generous to let me into their lives. They take every opportunity that comes to them and they’re not disheartened if it doesn’t come through. That’s the person I want to be by the end of the trip.

Day 8

When most people go to Africa, they see animals, and maybe one or two villages, but I think the greatest thing about this program is the fact that I can make friends with people – with the local people. That’s not an opportunity you get often … I just hope we can stay connected into the future.

Day 21

This trip has changed me immeasurably. I don’t think I can put my finger on how it’s changed me yet, but once I get back to familiar surroundings, I think I ‘ll realise how different I am. If I had to make a prediction, I feel more independent, more resilient, and my horizons have been broadened for the future.”

Cameron Smith, Yr 10


“The people in Zambia were amazing, and the general atmosphere and outlook on life there caused me to change my mindset and views for the better. I became more optimistic. The wildlife there, its variety and its uniqueness also added to the perfect experience of going there. If I had a chance to do the trip again, I would take that chance immediately.”

Cael Keenan, Yr 10 


“The exchange has given me more of a concrete idea about what I want to study next year and where I want go later in life. The organisations we interacted with gave me an insight into a career I could pursue in the near future. Before the trip, my options for next year were very broad and I was unsure as to how I would be able to choose what to do, but since returning, I have more of a focused plan to study conservation and animal science. Also, the friendships and connections I made on the exchange were an extremely valuable and unique opportunity. “

Max C Peters, Yr 12


Wednesday 10th July

“Today was our final day with the Chipembele students. It was a very emotional day, as most of us started to realize that the trip was coming to an end, and that it would be unlikely we’d see most of the Chipembele students again.

Two people from ZCP came to Wildlife Camp, to help us collect the data from the camera traps, which we had set out earlier. We looked at our findings and counted the numerous species of animals that were recorded. We then took part of a panel styled interview with many of the specialists that we met throughout this trip. They were Matt representing SLCS, Thandiwe and Eli from ZCP, Ben from CWET and Dora from Wildlife Camp representing the tourism industry. I found this panel interview very insightful, as it was great to have a chance at the end of the trip to ask any last minute questions. It was great to also find out what type of courses to do in university that would give me the right degrees or qualifications to end up working out here. By Julia Sibly Yr 11

“In the village school today, the physics teacher didn't turn up so I drew a map of Australia on the board. I talked about the animals and the deserts and the best drawing on the whole map was of Uluru because it is the easiest. I loved it. I had 10 kids surrounding me and watching over my shoulder."

That night hippos kept me awake by growling and grunting. There was also a lion! It was prowling up and down and roaring early in the morning. I think there were also some hyenas calling too."

Part of our work was to collect bricks at the Nature Conservancy. These two little boys jut appeared out of the village with bricks so I got them to follow me and throw bricks in the pits. From then, more and more kids came with bricks and more girls came to exclaim about how cute they were. Chloe and I then collected water from the well and sloshed it all over ourselves whilst attempting to carry it back to water the trees we had planted. We went back a second time but this time we carried the cans on our heads and it was so much better. It was hard, but better!"

Things I learnt on the trip include the Leopards are changing their hunting habits to avoid tourist safari vehicles, you don't need money to be happy and differences are nothing when you have at least one similarity

Tessa Manning, Yr 10


I feel that the Zambia Exchange gave me an invaluable insight into what I can do in the future. It has shown me that no matter which field I go into, I will be able to use those skills to help with conservation efforts. For me, the best part of the trip was meeting and learning from the staff of the Zambia Carnivore Program, who each bring different skills and experiences to the job. 

Tristram Fyfe, Yr 10


The Zambia trip was only a flash of a culture and an environment too beautiful to imagine, and it went by all too quickly. I am so lucky to have had the chance to participate in the Exchange. I learnt that all things have two sides; whether it be a conservation issue, or a dispute between friends. All the skills I acquired in Zambia have come into my daily life, especially since I can now piece together the experience.

Zandra Tabe, Yr 10