Witsie hunting hedgehogs, yes, hedgehogs!

Witsie hunting hedgehogs, yes, hedgehogs!


HAPPY HEDGEHOG: Jess Artingstall poses for the camera hedgehog in hand.

HAPPY HEDGEHOG: Jessica Artingstall poses for the camera with a hedgehog in hand. Photo: Supplied

It may seem an odd creature to want to count but Jessica Artingstall is on a mission to put a figure to the number of hedgehogs in South Africa.

The Wits Zoology masters student, has started an initiative to count and study the South African species of hedgehog.

Artingstall told Wits Vuvuzela that she decided to pursue research on southern African hedgehogs “because they are known to occur in many urban areas of Johannesburg.”

“They are quite frequently found in Midrand and Kyalami and the public can definitely help us greatly by reporting when and where they have seen a southern African hedgehog.”

The project started as Artingstall’s honours thesis which looked at hedgehogs across Johannesburg but it expanded to the whole of South Africa as she moved with the project into her master’s degree.

“With sightings apparently becoming less common, we are deeply concerned about this species’ future and where they are still occur in southern Africa,” she said.

Artingstall said it was her supervisor Prof Neville Pillay who had encouraged her take this topic on as her research project.

“I was very curious to learn more myself and took on his challenge.”

Together, Pillay and Artingstall run this project responding to sightings all across South Africa.

She explained the aim of the project is to determine where in South Africa hedgehogs are found in and how their distribution has changed over the last century.

The pair are also are assessing the local occurrence of hedgehogs in urban areas of Johannesburg and their encounter patterns with humans.

Artingstall explained that every interaction with a hedgehog is different, “some hedgehogs may quickly curl into a ball and appear to be quite shy, while others try to hightail their way and only curl into a ball last minute.”

“I was very curious to learn more myself and took on his challenge.”

According to Artingstall hedgehogs move “rather quickly, for their body size” and they “have quite long legs and a tiny tail which very few people see”.

She joked that besides her supervisor Prof Pillay being nipped on one occasion, “hedgehogs are generally quite peaceful”.

Aringstall has encouraged the public across South Africa to send sightings to her at: ifoundahedgehog@gmail.com.

She asked that the date, location and details of the habitats of the hedgehog sightings be included when getting in touch.

WITH INFOGRAPHIC: Health science students in HIV exposure frustrated by ARV treatment protocols

WITH INFOGRAPHIC: Health science students in HIV exposure frustrated by ARV treatment protocols


FOLLOWING PROTOCOL IS IMPORTANT: A Wits student gets her blood tested for HIV at a testing campaign on Wits Education Campus earlier this year. Photo: Tracey Ruff

From lost blood test results to a lack of guidance about antiretroviral treatment (ARVs), the protocol after exposure to a potential HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) threat is both frustrating and time-consuming for some students.

Students at the Wits Faculty of Health Sciences are required to follow a strict protocol when accessing ARVs after an exposure to the virus in the course of their practical work.

“[Students] have to come to Campus Health for reporting purposes,”  explained Sister Yvonne Matimba of Campus Health. While students can access an ARV starter pack immediately after an exposure from the hospital in which they are working, further treatment can only be accessed through Campus Health located in the Matrix building on main campus.

The alternative is to pay for the treatment through a private health care provider.

“She didn’t really know what the protocol was and just gave me the pills and told me I had to make the decision”

However, as Krystle Moodley, a Wits dentistry graduate currently completing her community service year in Mpumulanga, said, “It sucks [going to Campus Health] if you’re at med school because you have to go all the way to [main] campus. How does that make sense?”

Moodley has been on ARVs twice. Her first time was in fourth year after she pricked herself with a needle.

Once she had reported the incident to Campus Health, her bloods were taken immediately and she was put on a 28-day ARV treatment regime. She then had to go back for a six-week, and three-month, blood test.

Missing results

After not receiving her results from her three-month blood test, Moodley phoned Campus Health and was informed her results had been lost. She then decided to go to a private doctor and had to pay about R150 to get her bloods done.

“No one [at Campus Health] bothered to tell me or bring me in to retake [my bloods].”

Counselling is also provided by Campus Health to the affected students.  However, according to Moodley, she feels that what she was told was information she had studied and already knew about.

CLICK TO ENLARGE: The Wits ARV treatment protocol. Graphic Tracy Ruff.

CLICK TO ENLARGE: What does ARV treatment involve? Graphic: Tracy Ruff.

A sixth-year medical student who did not want to be named, who has been on ARVs twice, has also expressed difficulties with the Campus Health process. “In terms of waiting times, [Campus Health] was good, but the sister (who was a new employee at the time) couldn’t give me advice on whether or not to take the ARVs, she said.

She didn’t really know what the protocol was and just gave me the pills and told me I had to make the decision.”

However, according to Matimba, all staff at Campus Health are adequately trained to deal with the protocol.

A Wits postgraduate student, who also did not want to be identified, said dealing with Campus Health after she received a needle-stick injury was “a  pleasure.”

“The nurses are friendly and extremely professional. They help you every step of the way.”

In need of more guidance

Students who fail to follow the protocol strictly are exempt from making any insurance claims according to the Faculty of Health Sciences’ Student Protection and Insurance booklet.

The booklet directs students to contact any of a number of doctors and staff members if an exposure occurs. There are also two additional emergency numbers provided. Wits Vuvuzela tried to reach an adviser via one of the numbers provided but was told that the staff member in question had left a few years ago.

The sixth-year medical student feels that students need to be given a card with the relevant protocol information that they can carry with them at all times. She also believes students should be informed about the ARV protocol properly at the beginning of their studies.

“They (lectures and doctors) should sit you down and tell you what to do.”

Protocol in the working world also frustrating

A Wits occupational therapy graduate, who asked not to be named, has recently completed her ARV treatment for HIV exposure outside of Wits.

“I had problems with the workman compensation procedures … so I went about paying for everything and thought I could claim back but turned out I couldn’t,” explained the graduate.

Moodley, who is now working for a public hospital, has just completed her 28-day ARV treatment. Describing her experience with the ARV protocol in the hospital she said, “it was kind of haphazard and no one knew what to do.”




UPDATED: Rhodes student under investigation for fire in student union building

UPDATED: Rhodes student under investigation for fire in student union building

UPDATE: MAY 29, 2014,  10:21am
Rhodes University has released another statement confirming that a Rhodes student currently in hospital for ingesting petrol, is under investigation by  South African Police Services (SAPS) as a possible link to a fire that damaged the Steve Biko student union building on Tuesday.
The university is offering counselling to all students in the same residence as the hospitalised student following the incidents.
UPDATE: MAY 28, 16:48 pm.

Rhodes University has released a statement confirming that the man who was involved in an incident at a fuel station early yesterday morning, is a student at the University.

The third year student, currently at Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth has been joined by his family. The university has said that “an initial internal investigation has revealed that the hospitalisation of the student may be linked to the fire which started at the Rhodes Pool Club (the Purple Horse) in the Steve Biko Building on Tuesday (27 May 2014) morning.” The university has not confirmed the link though, and neither has the South African Police Services.



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SCIENCE INSIDE: The controversies of fracking

Hydraulic fracturing, known as “fracking” is the process of drilling out natural gas from rocks. In this week’s show, the team went to the Karoo in the Eastern Cape to involve farmers, journalists and scientists on the issue of fracking. Mohair farmers are worried about their drinking water being destroyed. Shell (and the government) are seeing massive cash potential. And the scientists are staying typically non-committal. We dig it all up, chuck it at the wall and see what sticks.  

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WITH INFOGRAPHIC: Chewing the same flavour of bubble-gum and other tips for getting through exams

WITH INFOGRAPHIC: Chewing the same flavour of bubble-gum and other tips for getting through exams



Packed libraries, late nights, panic attacks and last-minute cram sessions. Yes, that dreaded time of the year has arrived once again and exams have crept up upon us quicker than a leopard pouncing on its prey.

There are no two ways about it: the stress of the exams are upon us again.

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to some Witsies about their exam-preparation techniques and what they do to remain calm and get through the work.

Tips and tricks

Njabulo Mkhize, honours in Applied Drama, shared a very handy and unique trick. He reads his notes out aloud while recording himself on his cellphone. This way, he can “listen to himself [and his study notes] anywhere and anytime”.

Don’t cram and give yourself enough time to study,” says Kea Malebye, 3rd year law. Malebye says she tries not to study the night before her exam. She also makes sure she chews the same flavour bubble-gum when studying and in the exam. This helps her to remember her work as she associates the flavours with her notes.

“Keep a positive mentality and do your best.”

Leané Meiring, honours in Drama Therapy, also suggests linking studying and writing the exam with something that will trigger your memory. “Work at a desk so that you’re mimicking the exam sessions ... And get eight hours of sleep!”

Other students in Drama Therapy say that self-care, taking time to reflect and knowing if you are a morning, afternoon or night person are pivotal in helping you cope with the exams.

Mpumi Skhosana, 4th year BA, says she exercises and prefers to watch academic videos than write out notes.

Lots of sleep and jelly-beans, both while studying and in the exam” is what keeps Palesa Mopeli, honours in Fine Arts, calm. Mopeli advises Witsies to “keep a positive mentality and do your best”.

Give it your best shot

Finally, Simone Vasques, BA graduate, says “university life is really what you make of it”.

“This is one of those times in life where you’re in a situation with lecturers who are extremely knowledgeable [and] classmates are super interesting … so ask as many questions as you can”.

And as Mopeli told Wits Vuvuzela, what’s the worst that could happen with exams? Even if you fail, there will always be another chance.

For students wanting to speak to someone professional about coping with exams, the Counselling, Careers and Development Unit (CCDU) can be contacted on 011 717 9136.