Southeast Missouri State University

Wildlife Major Protects Animals in South Africa

College of Science and Mathematics (Department of Biology)
Hollie Lybarger with a Rhino!

Southeast Missouri State University wildlife and conservation major Hollie Lybarger of Fenton, Mo., is interning at the Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa.

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

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

“This internship has given me so many opportunities,” she said. “Although I have 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.”

Hollie boasted that the University has a strong Department of Biology in which professors encourage students to succeed and stress research. She considers her favorite moments at Southeast those after she finishes a large project or test, when she gets an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment.

While not studying and saving wildlife, Hollie enjoys nature while hiking and hanging out at Trail of Tears State Park.

South Africa is her favorite place to travel, she said, due to its gorgeous landscapes and wonderful people, and she is considering returning after she graduates. She also wants to travel to Australia to learn about their wildlife and conservation strategies.

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.