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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 into surrogate milk important to wildlife conservation
2017-05-08

Description: Prof Garry Osthoff  Tags: Prof Garry Osthoff

Prof Gary Osthoff from the UFS Department of
Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology,
will soon work on a milk formula for elephants.
Photo: Supplied

Research is being done at the University of the Free State (UFS) to analyse and synthetically imitate the unique milk of various wildlife species. This research is not only of scientific value, but also serves the conservation of South Africa’s wildlife species. At the forefront of this research is Prof Garry Osthoff from the Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology.

Orphaned rhino calf pulled through with surrogate milk

“There is still a lot of research to be done. Naturally the research is of scientific importance, but with surrogate milk having the same composition as the mother’s milk of a specific species, orphaned calves or cubs of that species could be pulled through during a difficult time of weaning. Bearing in mind that exotic animals fetch thousands and even millions of rands at auctions, it goes without saying a game farmer will do everything possible to provide only the best nourishment to such an orphaned animal. In such a case, synthetically-manufactured milk would be the right choice,” says Prof Osthoff.

The fruits of his research were recently demonstrated in Germany when a rhino calf was left orphaned in the Leipzig Zoo. Prof Osthoff’s article: “Milk composition of a free-ranging white rhinoceros during late lactation” was used as a directive for applying surrogate milk for horse foals (which is already commercially available), since the composition of horse and rhino milk largely corresponds. The surrogate milk was used with great success and the rhino calf is flourishing. He mentions that such an orphan is often given the wrong nourishment with the best intentions, resulting in the starvation of the animal despite the amount of cow’s milk it devours.

With surrogate milk having the same
composition as the mother’s milk of a
specific species, orphaned calves or
cubs of that species could be pulled
through during the difficult time
of weaning.

Milk formula for baby elephants in the pipeline
With baby elephants left orphaned due to the increase in elephant poaching for their ivory, several attempts have been made to create a milk formula in order to feed these elephants. To date, many elephants have died in captivity from side effects such as diarrhoea as a result of the surrogate formula which they were fed.

Prof Osthoff recently received a consignment of frozen milk which he, together with researchers from Zimbabwe, will use to work on a milk formula for elephants. They are studying the milk in a full lactation period of two years. During lactation, the composition of the milk changes to such an extent that a single surrogate formula will not be sufficient. Four different formulas should probably be designed.

Prof Osthoff says that of the different species he has researched, elephants are the most interesting and deviate most from the known species.

Although his research to develop surrogate milk is adding much value to the wildlife industry, and although he finds this part of his work very exciting, his research focus is on food science and nutrition. “What is currently authentic in milk research is the study of the fat globules with content, the structure and composition of the casein micelle, and the prebiotic sugars. The knowledge which is gained helps to improve the processing, development of new food products, and development of food products for health purposes,” says Prof Osthoff.

 

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