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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

Giraffe research broadcast on National Geographic channel
2016-03-09

Description: Giraffe research  Tags: Giraffe research

A documentary focusing on the latest and most interesting research about giraffes was recently broadcasted on National Geographic. Dr Francois Deacon from the UFS Department of Animal, Wildlife and Grassland Sciences and the team of researchers working with him, were first in the world to equip giraffes with GPS collars, and to conduct research on them.

Research by Dr Francois Deacon, from the UFS Department of Animal, Wildlife and Grassland Sciences, involving the equipping of giraffes with GPS collars, was broadcast this week as part of a documentary (4 March 2016 and subsequent weeks) on National Geographic (Channel 182). The documentary is the first of two on his team's research.

Dr Deacon and the team of researchers working with him were the first in the world to equip giraffes with GPS collars, and to conduct research on this initiative. The group of researchers can now follow the animals night and day by means of the GPS collars, while monitoring their movements from a distance on a computer screen and seeing the world from a giraffe's perspective.

“The documentary focuses on the latest and interesting information about our research in different countries,” Dr Deacon said. Besides their local research on giraffes, he and his team also assist in other projects and research in Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda.

“There is much to learn from the documentary,” Dr Deacon said. Interesting facts from their research include herd interactions by individuals towards each other, bulls versus bulls, and cows versus calves. In the documentary, the viewer can also learn how giraffes use thermoregulation, their tongues, and roaming areas and distances; peculiar behaviour such as feeding on bones and soil; bulls fighting; how and when giraffes drink water; and the conservation and management of giraffes.
 
Focus is also placed on the manner in which the latest research plays a role in the better understanding of the animals.
 
According to Dr Deacon, this is the first documentary to focus on giraffe research on such a large scale. Marco Polo Films from Terra Mater are contracted by National Geographic to produce nature films – this was the hundredth nature film produced by them.
 
“There has never before been such a production about giraffes. It also attracted huge interest and reaction overseas, which will provide great exposure for our research and for the UFS.
 
“We believe that the media involvement will provide much more exposure to giraffes, which is a good thing, since they are facing extinction in Africa. The exposure can, in itself, lead to new research and has already started attracting international students to the UFS,” Dr Deacon said.
 
The second documentary will follow later this year. Iniosante, a film team from Texas, USA, is producing this film, which focuses on the extinction of giraffes. It is the same team responsible for the production Last of the Longnecks.



Additional resources:


-    Last of the Longnecks (trailer)
-    Giraffe – Up high and personal (National Geographic video)
-    Giraffe: African Giant (National Geographic video)
-    Giraffe – Up high and personal (article)

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