LOCAL university student Nicole Clark has returned from a trip of a lifetime after studying elephants, lions and wild dogs in South Africa earlier this year.
Ms Clark spent a month overseas monitoring, observing and recording data in Tembe Elephant Park for a paper she is completing at university.
"I went to South Africa for my degree in environmental science," Ms Clark explained.
"I originally went over there to study wild dogs but didn't get the opportunity to do that, so my project is now centred on elephant movements in relation to vegetation and rising temperatures."
Ms Clark explained how the future of Africa depends on elephants and how they react to current climate change.
"If elephants stop doing what they are doing because of climate change, it's going to cause something called a trophic cascade and it will change the whole dynamic of the environment," she said.
Whilst monitoring the elephants, Ms Clark also had the opportunity to work closely with lions and wild dogs.
"I watched a female lioness hunt and to stand there and feel her roar was amazing," she said.
"I was close to the animal, the sound just rattled your whole body,"
Ms Clark raised funds earlier last year for her African safari by selling chocolates and hosting a African Safari Dance Party Fundraiser at Dodds Hotel, where she raised close to $3,000.
"It was the most amazing month of my life and I learnt so much, I just can't wait to go back," she said.
Ms Clark plans to continue her studies in environmental science after she completes her degree at the end of this year.