The conference itself was slightly daunting as we both had to chair a session, as well as presenting. Themes covered: sediment fingerprinting, vegetation-sediment relationships, biogeochemistry, connectivity and catchment scale processes, finishing with “framework and tools for management”, which is where my talk slotted in. I presented my PhD research on finding the best methods for testing the effectiveness of mitigation measures, which have been put in place to reduce agricultural sediment pollution and their associated pollutants in England and Wales. River systems in South Africa and the UK are very different, particularly due to climate and geology; despite this, there were some useful ideas to be shared, as there is a strong argument for landowner control, using cheap, sustainable materials and low maintenance methods.
For one day of the conference, it was “fieldtrip day”. Simon and I chose to go on the trip to Addo Elephant Park, where we drove around the game reserve and were lucky enough to see dozens of animals that we definitely would not see at home, including: meerkats, warthog, zebra, kudu, springbok, giraffe and of course, elephants. It was a lovely day out, and apparently Ian’s boat trip along the Mansfield River was equally enjoyable.
|Elephants at Addo Elephant Park|
We were lucky enough to join some postgrads (Kat and Jordan) and Bennie, a PhD student, for a trip to Compassberg and Nieu Bethesda, a beautiful part of the country where you can be the only souls for at least 10 km around you. It was very interesting to work on some unfamiliar river systems and geomorphological features. We also did some sample collection for Ian’s research, followed by a night in a farmhouse without electricity but a very warm fire and a bottle of brandy!
|Bennie, Jordan and Kat from Rhodes University, after some disturbance experiments|
It was a fantastic experience, so much so that Simon is still out there, about to begin his post-doc. So far he’s learnt how to use a washing machine but has been without water for 4 days!