A Wild Story from Africa

Siril Umphafa6

The UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve, situated in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, is a 6,000 hectare reserve comprised of three farms previously managed for cattle and encompasses a wide range of habitats from acacia savannah and bushveld to mountainous terrain. Due to previous agricultural practices many of the natural inhabiting species had been lost.

UmPhafa provides a fantastic opportunity to students to experience something different. The goal of the project is to “to rehabilitate the habitat of UmPhafa as an example of the region’s previous natural condition through the management of indigenous flora and fauna in order to achieve a model of sustainable conservation for the development and promotion of environmental education”.

Having the opportunity to volunteer abroad is a very important part of an Essex education. One of our founding principles from our first Vice-Chancellor, Sir Albert Sloman, was that Essex should offer ‘an experience of living as well as an opportunity for learning’, and this remains as true today as it was in 1963.

Schemes like Umphafa play a vital role in developing a global mindset for a students – not just to grow our students as people, but to also give them the skills and attitude so sought after an ever-more competitive graduate job market.

Last year Click- the Essex crowdfunding platform helped 8 students from different Departments to experience the unique opportunity of working closely with large and rare animals in Africa. All together they raised more than £13,000 which fully covered their program fees, accommodation, food, visas and other expenses.

Siril Grini was one of the students who used Click and raised the funds she needed. She is one of the few Essex students who shower real passion and interest to learn about African Wildlife Sense Conservation and Reserve Management. Siril had the unique chance to work alongside a team with many years of experience and gain credible work experience whilst knowing that her contribution is having a direct influence on the well-being of the flora and fauna on the reserve.

Siril Umphafa

Here is what Siril said about her experience in South Africa and how Click helped her get there:

“Thanks to Click I was able to not only realise my dream of travelling to Africa and experiencing conservation first-hand, but it also allowed me to learn some vital skills. If it hadn’t been for Click, I would not have been able to afford this trip of a lifetime!”

You can watch Siril’s whole journey and learn all the details first hand from her Vlog here.

Siril is also a keen photographer and as such she managed to capture some of the beauty of the UmPhafa Reserve.



Some night scenes…


“One of the most gorgeous animals I have ever seen” as Siril puts it…


Siril Umphafa3

To see more of our exciting students & staff projects, visit the official Click site here.

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