Southeast Student Completes Internship on South African Game Reserve

by News Bureau on Monday, Sep. 12, 2011

Hollie Lybarger, right, on South African Game Reserve

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 12, 2011 — Southeast Missouri State University wildlife and conservation major Hollie Lybarger of Fenton, Mo., recently returned from a summer internship at the Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa.

“This internship taught me about land preservation and wildlife management as they naturally occur and about educating the public about such issues,” she said.

Lybarger worked at a five-star game lodge called Etali in a 75,000-hectare reserve. While interning, she learned methods of protecting vulnerable species such as the rhinoceros, which is greatly affected by the poaching industry. She also helped with predator work and the vital niche they serve for ecosystems. She gained further experience counting species, tagging rhinoceros, tracking jackals, controlling burns and clearing invasive bush species.

She said South Africa offers gorgeous landscapes and wonderful people, and she is considering returning there after she graduates. She also would like to travel to Australia to learn about their wildlife and conservation strategies.

“This internship has given me so many opportunities,” she said. “Although I learned a great deal outside the classroom, I would have been unprepared had it not been for some of the courses I took that went into detail about natural science.”

Lybarger said Southeast has a strong Department of Biology in which professors encourage students to succeed and stress research. She encourages future Southeast students to work hard in order to achieve their goals.

“Self-motivation and discipline are your most successful tools,” she said.

Lybarger is now back at Southeast finishing her last year of school.

“All in all, this experience really allowed me to take theories I’ve learned in the classroom and see them applied in areas where some may have been successful and others not so much.   Although the plant life and wildlife differ from region to region, the ideas and management strategies can be very versatile,” she said. “Internships are a great way for anyone to learn new information and receive practical preparation for the work field.”