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26 February 2019 | Story Eugene Seegers | Photo Eugene Seegers
Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Daniella Coetzee, South Campus Principal, Tshegofatso Setilo, Director Access, Prof Prakash Naidoo, Vice-Rector Operations
Prof Francis Petersen, Prof Daniella Coetzee (Principal: South Campus), Tshegofatso Setilo (Head: Access Programmes), and Prof Prakash Naidoo (Vice-Rector: Operations) on the South Campus for the welcoming of first-years.


“Welcome to the South Campus of the University of the Free State!” Addressing a packed Madiba Arena, Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, said he was happy to see not only first-year students, but also parents and guardians, student leadership, and support staff from both the Bloemfontein and South Campuses.

 “I would like to congratulate each of our first-year students for making the decision to come to Kovsies to further your studies here. But I would also like to thank you for making this choice,” he continued.

Prof Petersen further emphasised that the students’ experience and success as individuals are important to the UFS as an institution; therefore, academic and support staff are on hand to guide them through their journey to becoming well-rounded individuals. “We will surely take care of you,” said Prof Petersen. He also reassured parents and guardians that their loved ones would be well looked after.

The Rector also focused attention on the role of student-leadership structures, such as the newly-formed Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) and South Campus SRC, members of which were present in the audience. He thanked them for playing a key role in the student constituency, highlighting their support and guidance to help first-years cultivate a sense of belonging at the UFS.

Turning back to first-year students, Prof Petersen stated that they have the unique opportunity to study on a campus specifically focused on developing their full potential, a campus where they can realise their dreams. “Your arrival on the campus marks a new chapter in your life. This chapter is slightly different, as you are the author thereof. The previous chapters in your life were largely written by others—your parents, guardians, families, teachers, and others. You will now be the main author in the next chapter of your unique story.”

“At Kovsies, we believe in developing students in their totality as human beings, not just the academic side. May your time with us equip you to make a success of your life after university!”

Prof Petersen’s Message to First-year Students
  1. Take responsibility for your academic programme.
    • Keep your focus. Study and study hard. You will reap the rewards and see the advantages of making success in your studies a top priority.
    • Make sure that you have enough time for your studies; balance your social life and your time set aside to study.
  2. Realise and remember that you are not alone.
    • If you find things difficult, seek help.
    • Our Department of Student Counselling and Development has trained staff and tailor-made programmes that can assist you.
    • Look after your mental health—and look after each other’s mental health.
  3. Make the most of your time at Kovsies.
    • Join one or more of the student organisations; why not try something new?
  4. Embrace difference and diversity.
    • Get to know students who are different from you.
    • You will lose valuable opportunities to grow if you only associate with your own all the time. It is important to get to know students who are different from you. It could be someone from a different part of the country, or from another country, a different ethnicity, a different religion, someone who has different views from yours, or who has different interests and perspectives.

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


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