Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Previous Archive
02 May 2018 Photo Charl Devenish
South Campus UAP celebrates 27 years of access to education
Mr Francois Marais, Prof Kalie Strydom, Prof Daniella Coetzee (South Campus Principal), Prof Francis Petersen, Dr Nthabeleng Rammile (Vice-Chairperson of the UFS Council), and Dr Khotso Mokhele (Chancellor of the UFS).

More than 27 years ago, international funding from the Human Sciences Research Council and Anglo American was put to an unusual use for that time. Prof Kalie Strydom’s research unit at the University of the Free State (UFS) was tasked with reviewing how institutional missions would change in the new South Africa. Prof Strydom worked closely with surrounding communities in Bloemfontein to develop a bridging course which would help students who showed potential to access tertiary education, although they did not meet the requirements. His vision brought to birth the University Access Programme (UAP), as it is known today, which is hosted on the UFS South Campus, and is still providing unique access to higher-education institutions in South Africa.

People with a passion for human development
March 2018 saw the 27th anniversary of this remarkable initiative, which has given a second chance to over 18 000 students. Special guests at the event included Prof Strydom, Mr Francois Marais, and representatives from the Department of Higher Education and Training and Investec’s corporate social investment office.

Dr Sonja Loots, researcher in the UFS Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL), singled out two key individuals in the formation of the UAP: Prof Kalie Strydom, who initiated the programme, and Mr Marais, who has been Director of the UAP since its inception. Dr Loots highlighted one of the driving forces behind Prof Strydom’s perseverance, vision, and determination with the UAP by quoting from an interview with him for an upcoming book on student access and success. He said, “It was a decision based on principle … to be part of the solution to a better country.”

Access and success still an issue today
In his presentation on the “Importance of Access”, Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, pointed out the vital role of access in South Africa, especially the value it offers for the betterment of the country’s people. However, he said that student success is also an issue, and institutions need to be accountable for it. Quoting Prof John Martin of the University of Cape Town’s Faculty of Engineering, “We must be flexible on access, but robust on success.” Only by “closing the loop” in this way, can the UFS and other higher-education institutions ensure a valuable contribution to the economy of the country.

News Archive

Research on locomotion of giraffes valuable for conservation of this species
2016-08-23

Description: Giraffe research 2016 Tags: Giraffe research 2016

Technology was used in filming the giraffes.
According to research, giraffes will slow
down when a drone is positioned
approximately 20 - 30 m away. When the
drone moves closer, they will revert
to galloping.
Photo: Charl Devenish


The meaning of the Arab term Giraffe Camelopardalis is ‘someone who walks fast’. It is precisely this locomotion of their longnecks that encouraged researchers, Dr Francois Deacon and Dr Chris Basu, to study the animals more closely.

Despite the fact that giraffes are such well-known animals, very little research has been done on the manner in which these graceful animals locomote from one place to the next. There are only two known ways of locomotion: the slower lateral walking and the faster galloping. Most animals use these ways of moving forward. It is unknown why giraffes avoid intermediate-speed trotting.

Research of great value to the industry

Research on the manner in which giraffes locomote from one place to the next will assist the industry in understanding aspects such as their anatomy and function, as well as the energy they utilise in locomoting from one place to another. Information on the latter could help researchers understand where giraffes fit into the ecosystem. This data is of great value for large-scale conservation efforts.

Universities working together to collect data

Dr Basu, a veterinarian at the Royal Veterinary College in the UK, has studied the animals at a zoo park in the United Kingdom. He visited the University of the Free State (UFS) in order to expand his fieldwork on the locomotion of giraffes. This study was done in cooperation with Dr Deacon from the Department of Animal, Wildlife, and Grassland Sciences at the UFS. Dr Deacon is a specialist in giraffe habitat-related research in South Africa and other African countries.

The fieldwork for the research, which was done in the Woodland Hills Wildlife Estate and the Willem Pretorius Nature Reserve, preceded research on the movement and the forces involved in the locomotion of giraffes. Due to the confined fenced area in the zoo park, it was practically impossible to study the animals at speed. “The study of actions ‘faster than walking’ is crucial for gathering data on, inter alia, the frequency, length, and time associated with each step.


Technology such as drones offers unique
opportunities to study animals like giraffes.



Technology used to ensure accuracyTechnology such as drones offers unique opportunities to study animals like giraffes. Apart from the fact that it is possible to get high-quality video material of giraffes – moving at speed – it is also a very controlled device that ensures the accuracy of data.

It is the first time ever that a study has been done on the locomotion of giraffes with this level of detail.
Research on the study will be published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

The project was approved by the UFS ethics committee.

 

 

 

Previous research articles:

9 March 2016:Giraffe research broadcast on National Geographic channel
18 Sept 2015 Researchers reach out across continents in giraffe research
29 May 2015: Researchers international leaders in satellite tracking in the wildlife environment


We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept