1

This is Africa

Hello from South Africa!!

I had a very eventful plane ride, got harassed by a drunk guy and got to fill out an incident report. Needless to say it was an interesting flight, thankfully I had two of the nicest people sitting next to me and they looked out for me and made sure the guy didn’t mess
with me the rest of the flight.

It’s been a crazy first week and a half here and I’m just now finding time to write an update! I write this post surrounded by baby animals, so needless to say it’s a rough life 🙂

We’ve done some Nyala, wildebeest and sable the first week. One of the owners dog licked the dart site of one of the Nyala and we had to search in the bush for him. When we found him he was awake but unable to stand, clear effects of the potent drugs he ingested via the blood. He was given the reversal and two minutes later he was back to normal! Haha, makes for a funny story now that it had a happy ending. Not funny at the time looking for him. One of the guys we darted for owned an exotic bird farm, so that was pretty cool to see all his hand raised African Greys and Macaws. My job was to sit on the back of the four wheeler and hold the Nyla’s, prepare blood tubes and ear tags, give all the injections and reverse them in the trailer.

This past weekend I was on the farm helping in the nursery with all the baby animals! They are adorable, which made the lack of sleep a little easier to tolerate. Feeding baby animals at all hours of the night is no easy task, let me tell you! It takes time effort and A LOT OF COFFEE. Makes me have so much respect for people who dedicate their lives to hand raising babies! We get an armed guard to and from night feedings, which is actually nice because I’m reading “Killing for Profit” about the illegal rhino horn trade and let’s just say that book will get your imagination going, haha. The girls and I have also decided that putting the teat on the bottle should be considered an Olympic sport. Never have I felt so ridiculous than being sprayed with milk trying to put those things on !

This week is very very busy, we did Nyala, sable, and buffalo Monday. Tuesday we did rhino and waterbuck and today we did giraffe, rhino as well as immobilized and treated a buffalo that got horned in the eye. We have eland and waterbuck to do tomorrow. I haven’t got to take many pictures because it’s literally just Shaun and I and there’s never time to take photos when you’re busy darting, blindfolding, transporting and giving injections/reversals. I will try to take some this week though!

Just found out next weekend I’m staying in Kruger for two days! So excited!

Hope everyone’s enjoying the last part of summer!

Sunburnt in South Africa,

Beast

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15

The Great Hunting Debate

   “Few would dispute that the philosophical underpinnings of the protectionist paradigm assign an intrinsic value to individual animals, accepting them as fellow sentient beings and strongly opposing the killing of wild animals for any reason. However, this should not be an excuse for avoiding rational and informed debate.”


**WARNING POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES**

I knew when I woke up with 3 text messages about a Texas Tech cheerleaders hunting page, today was going to be interesting. Opened Facebook and it wasn’t hard to find what everyone was talking about: there the article is, plastered across every status; some with clear distaste others justifying her actions. I am posting this, not being I want to bash other people’s opinions, but because I think it’s important to make educated and informed opinions.

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Would you be surprised to learn that trophy hunting generates gross revenues of at least $201 million per year in sub-Saharan Africa?

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When I lived in South Africa I was SHOCKED at how uneducated I had been about the hunting industry and the role it played in conservation. Here I was thinking my opinion was SO accurate and then I got a little taste of the truth. The truth is, almost every veterinary call we went on was to hunting operations, game reserves and breeding facilitates. The people who employed our work are the people my Facebook friends are bashing and calling heartless killers. Surprisingly, they were not that at all. The people we encountered have a passion for wildlife and are the primary stakeholders in the conservation of these species. Think about it….their very livelihood depends on the survival of these species. These animals are their incentive to maintain herd health, prevent disease, treat sickness, educate guests about South African wildlife and conservation, use advanced genetics and reproductive tools for breeding selection among many other things. These game farm operations employee local communities and villages, who are now equal stakeholders in the success of the wildlife industry. We worked for countless clients who are using revenue from hunting in order to increase conservation efforts and even in some cases to increase the security for their rhinos due to the increase in poaching. The sad truth is, if hunting didn’t exist, these species would not exist in the numbers they do now. Hunting has sustained these populations, and created conservation incentive. 

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So how does hunting work? In most scenarios the government determines the hunting quota for a designated area, then they must reach an agreement with a trophy hunting operation. The trophy hunter agrees to pay a certain amount of money for each animal they shoot during their stay. The trophy operations are responsible for acquiring the required permits for hunting. The hunters are accompanied by a guide who ensures the hunter shoots only the animals agreed upon and no more than the agreed amount or species. The hunting operation records the number and species of animals killed by the hunter and ensures the correct amount is paid. Contrary to popular belief these people aren’t just handed a gun and given free range of the property.

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When I was in South Africa I got to go to the carcass of an elephant that had been killed with a legally acquired permit by a hunter from America. I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to speak to him, but decided I would because I was curious. I won’t go into the details but I will say I was yet again surprised about how little I knew. He was far more educated, informed and very much concerned with the conservation of wildlife species than a majority of these people bashing hunters on Facebook. He researched his permit and found out about the individual elephant he was hunting, where the money would be going and made sure all the meat was donated to local townships. He made a difference not only in providing money for conservation but also by sustaining local townships with meat and hide, which is far more than I am guessing most of us have contributed financially.

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I’m not going to lie to you, standing in front of that elephant carcass was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Talking to the person responsible for that elephants death, even harder: but hearing that from this animals death came the financial means for conserving the rest of the elephants on the reserve and that the meat taken from the elephant was donated to townships  made it more bearable. I included this picture not for shock factor, but because I want you to know where my beliefs are grounded. They are grounded staring hunting right in the face knowing it serves a role in conservation. My beliefs come from experience, from talking to hunters, talking to owners of trophy hunting ranches, working with game rangers and wildlife veterinarians.These learning experience are some I will take with me forever, because some of the hardest lessons in life come when we are forced to overcome our emotions and look at the facts. The fact is that the life of this elephant had a price, and from that price came an infinite amount of good. Nobody said the truth was pretty. 

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Sure you may not agree about the killing of animals for sport, but before you go criticizing the actions of others, ask yourself how much are you doing for conservation? How are you contributing to the survival of these species? 
In all honesty, we need to be more focused on finding solutions that will truly conserve the species and eradicate poaching — which is the real issue that needs to be addressed. If a young college student hunting animals legally outrages social media, what would you say to the thousands of rhinos illegally killed or wounded using nothing more than machetes? Some left mortally wounded and ALIVE to later die slowly and painfully of their inflicted wounds. If you want something to be mad about, there you go. 

 

This blog is written mostly from experience, but if you want to read the facts I have included several articles below that I would encourage you to read.

http://www.africanwildlifeconservationfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Economic-and-conservation-significance.pdf

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/can-hunting-endangered-animals-save-the-species/

http://www.africanwildlifeconservationfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Economic-and-conservation-significance.pdf

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1079606

http://showme.co.za/lifestyle/hunting-a-great-debate/

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/21/opinion/a-trophy-hunt-thats-good-for-rhinos.html?_r=2

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/11/15/no-more-hunting-of-any-kind-in-botswana/

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Poachers Moon

http://www.nikela.org/full-moon-villains-and-heroes-race-for-south-africas-rhino-and-people/

Nikela

 Tonight as you watch the full moon I want to share with you a fact that not all of us are familiar with. The full moon is the night that the most rhino poaching occurs, thus the “poachers moon.” The rhinos are the most vulnerable on a full moon because poachers are able to track and kill them with greater ease, due to the increased visibility. Since May 28th there have been 419 rhinos poached. Rhinos are estimated to be poached at a rate of one every 8 hours. Sometimes when I am looking through my photos of the rhinos I worked with in South Africa I wonder how many of them are still alive? 

www.savetherhino.org

Save the rhino

As I have mentioned before, the poaching market is driven by the demand for rhino horn in Asian countries such as China and Vietnam. In these countries the rhino horn is used medicinally or as a sign of wealth. The price of the horn reward for the poachers creates enough incentive for them to ignore the possible consequences of their actions and continue to hunt down and kill rhinos. 

www.savetherhino.org

Save the rhino

 However, the fate of the rhino is not doomed, because there are people around the world putting forth their time and effort in order to make a difference and ensure the survival of this species. There are veterinarians who are working to cast the sinuses of rhinos affected by poaching, a team of reproductive physiologists and veterinarians just successfully produced an Indian Rhino born from Artificial insemination, more arrests are being made and sentences carried out for convicted poachers, just today I saw a release from SANParks that a member of their team was suspended and is being investigated on grounds of suspicion of rhino poaching related activities. These are all incredible advances in the face of poaching.

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http://bcove.me/g9fq5yl1 

*Click link for the cuteness 

©Paul Brehem

©Paul Brehem

However just like there is no single answer to combat the current poaching crisis, there is no single answer to saving the species. It is a combined effort and you too can play your part by visiting http://www.savetherhino.org to find ways to get involved! I don’t claim to have all the answers or information, but I encourage you to check out the resources available on the save the rhino website!

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Tonight as I drove around Fossil Rim, I stopped to look at the rhinos, with their incredible horns, relaxing together, oblivious that this is not a pleasure all rhinos are afforded. I felt lucky, to spend another day working at a place with people who strive everyday to make a difference in conservation. Although, we can never look up at the moon with the same innocent pleasure that we used to, I hope that we can help educate and spread awareness about the war taking place thousands of miles away.

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#WhoseSideAreYouOn

Beast 

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African adventures in Texas

 

ONE YEAR 

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It’s hard to believe that a year ago this week I was on the most life changing experience of my life. My trip to Africa completely changed my life and wrecked what I originally thought my career would look like one day. Since Africa I have completed my first year of veterinary school at Texas A&M, which was the most mentally and physically exhausting year of my entire life. I cried, I laughed, I succeeded and I even experienced failure but most importantly I learned, grew and made friends and memories that will last a lifetime. Although I wouldn’t change anything about this year I would NEVER EVER want to go through first year again. EVER.

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So the purpose of writing this blog (ONE YEAR LATER) is to keep everyone in the loop about what I am up to this summer! Especially those of you who follow my blog who aren’t on Social Media! I have accepted a 7-week internship at Fossil Rim Wildlife Park in Glen Rose Texas. I am incredibly excited and thankful for this opportunity to learn more about veterinary wildlife medicine, but more importantly to try and figure out if this is a career I want to pursue. Check out their website and also let me know if you will be planning a visit there while I am here! These past three weeks have been incredible! The work ranges from darting gemsbok to Cape Buffalo, putting foley catheters in Dwarf goats and treating baby Attwater prairie chickens. I have already had a wide variety of experiences here and it’s only week three! I drew blood on a macaw, assisted in necropsies, put an IV catheter in a scimitar horned oryx and watched several amazing procedures done by the veterinary and animal care team here. They keep me so involved, and are absolutely incredible. We also moved all the offices from downstairs to upstairs today, my biceps are going to be HUGE and I have a gnarly bruise from falling UP the stairs, I still continue to impress myself with my inability to have normal coordination. In other hilarious news a skunk decided to spray our intern house in the middle of the night. I thought he was IN my room it was such a strong smell…..and I was sporting a lovely new cologne for the day! My coworkers loved it. Luckily I think he’s gone and hasn’t sprayed in three nights!

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 After I leave Fossil Rim I plan on spending time with family and also shadowing a wildlife veterinarian in Fredericksburg Texas. And then…..…. traveling back to South Africa for three weeks to work with a wildlife veterinarian and visit old friends I met on my trip last summer. I would be traveling on standby…so let international airport adventures take two begin?! One of my fondest memories was checking my email in London and realizing my Dad emailed me that there was an earlier flight and that I needed to RUN to the check-in to make it on time. I am proud to report that my Dad got me all the way to Africa on Standby passes.

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Thanks for sticking with me and reading my posts!

Officially ¼ a veterinarian,

Beast

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**Pictures courtesy of Fossil Rim

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How to lose a guy in one date

The story I am about to divulge is the story of how a dog can look cute one second, and destroy a date and cost you your dignity in all of about half a second. 

 

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The story begins like this: I decided to invite this guy over that I had liked for a long time for dinner, he thought my dog was cute so of course when I told him Moose would be there he was in. We had just finished dinner, when Moose ruined my life (Okay that might be a little drastic but it was close). David* and I had just finished dinner and were chatting aimlessly about school and projects etc, when Moose suddenly walks out of the bathroom and straight to David. This is when I notice that there is a string hanging from his mouth. Yes, it is exactly what you are hoping it’s not. David, being the unaware and completely oblivious male that he is, had absolutely NO idea what this string could POSSIBLY be attached to because he held his hands out to Moose’s mouth and said, “Hey Moosey, whatcha got there?” I’m sure you can see where this is going. Moose then drops the USED feminine product he so graciously retrieved from the trash can into my dates hands. The next five seconds happened in slow motion – David, after experiencing the most horrifying moment of his life has thrown the tampon onto the floor and ran outside dry heaving into my grass. Since David had thrown the tampon so quickly, Moose now thinks this is some kind of fun game and grabs it and starts running around the house like a mad-man with me chasing him and screaming, and him with a tampon string hanging out of his mouth looking like the happiest dog in the whole world. Needless to say I never got that second date and my dignity has never made a full recovery.  

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**Names have been changed to protect the identiy as well as dignity of the person involved in this series of embarrassing events. I didn’t change Moose’s name, he deserves all the credit for this. Don’t let that cute face fool you.

The only good thing to come of this….was winning $100 for submitting this to Vet Gazette! 

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First base with a giraffe

Hello everyone!

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We’ve been so busy since the last update so I will only highlight the main things! We did some mass capture, caught a lot of impala, zebra, wildebeest, kudu and such. Shaun got to dart a Klipspringer for transport which was pretty awesome. They’re these cute little antelope that hangout on rocks and they sweat out of their hooves to help them to stay on the rocks, pretty neat little guys! It felt just like a hedgehog, which was NOT what I was expecting it to feel like at all. So it was like petting Rafiki (Bible study SHOUTOUT)

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We got really bored on the days when the wind was bad so we couldn’t capture because the animals could smell the boma and wouldn’t come near it when chased with the helicopter so we decided to try and sell wood on the side of the road. Every car honked at us….but nobody bought wood so that was a fail but it was really fun.

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We then moved to another farm to catch Nyala’s and basically anything else we could find because the guy is selling and wants all his animals off. We ended up catching about 26 nyalas and an oribi (which is endangered and almost extinct!)

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We also did some night darting…which is like an intense game of hide and seek. You dart the animals, they run and then you try to find them with telemetry, which is basically like a tracking device in the dart to locate them once they go down. So you’re running around in the dark looking for a darted animal and of course your adrenaline is pumping and suddenly you have to pee, classic. Which brings me to; embarrassing stories with Brittni! Shaun darted a Reedbuck and the telemetry-tracking device in the dart fell off the back so we had to all jump off the truck in the dark with only our dinky head torches and start searching for it by foot. So what happens is everyone spreads out in a long line and starts sweeping the area where the reedbuck was last seen. Another student, Allison, forgot her head torch so she and I walked together and ended up really far away from the group searching in the dark. We were just joking around about how we were glad this wasn’t a big five game farm or we could be potentially walking up on a lion or a leopard when we heard this growling noise from behind the bush we were walking up on. Of course we have officially psyched ourselves out from the previous conversation and we are convinced it’s a leopard and with nobody from the group close enough to help we immediately held hands (It’s a girl thing?) and then I was like “Ok Allison we’re going to back up slowly. Don’t talk or make any sudden movements.” So we start backing up and we get super quite and we can hear what sounds like growling and helpless flailing and I look at Allison and was like “maybe it’s the Reedbuck…lets just go for it!” And we ran like hell towards the noise and sure enough there was the “Leopard” which was actually the Reedbuck we were looking for. Hahaha needless to say we felt like complete idiots.

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From that farm we went back to Bundox base camp to prepare for the movement of 22 White Rhinos from one farm to another due to a high incidence of poaching on the farm where they were. There were 9 poached in the past month so the owner decided it was worth moving them. Bundox, along with three other game capture companies showed up at the farm the next morning to start the capture of the rhinos. Shaun (the veterinarian we work with) was the ground veterinarian and the other vet was the one in the helicopter darting the rhinos. That was an incredibly long day for everyone involved; Darting, dehorning and loading 18 rhinos into recovery trailers then driving them to the trucks, walking them off the recovery and into transport crates and then loading the crates onto flatbed trucks with a crane and then driving the trucks to the new location, unloading the crates off the truck again and then releasing the rhinos onto the new property, loading the crates again and coming back for more rhinos. Also; Dad and Albert you would be proud of me, I can officially hook up rhino crates on the crane by myself (See I can do manual labor when rhinos are involved, but I still struggle to mow the lawn 😉 ). It was really awesome to be able to witness such a mass movement of Rhinos, especially since it required people who usually regard each other as competition to work together for a common good. One of the rhinos that we did had a bullet entry wound on her face, which was obviously done by the poachers. Luckily the shot didn’t kill her or seriously injure her and Shaun was able to treat her wound and give her antibiotics. The last two rhinos we did were a cow and her 2 month old calf. OH MY SOUL. This baby rhino wasn’t any bigger than a full-grown sheep. I have never heard so many oohs and ahhhs in my whole life. This thing would melt the heart of a full-grown man. I got to walk the baby onto the trailer with a head rope, which was surprisingly easier than walking Moose most mornings. Someone has a video of it so look out for that on Facebook once I get home ☺ Definitely one of the highlights of my trip thus far.

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The next day we came back and did the last four rhinos because it got dark the day before and we weren’t able to finish. I will never get bored with being so close to such an amazing animal. They are so gentle and they have the sweetest faces, and they make the most endearing noises. The next day we got sad news that rhino number twenty that we did the second day had been poached on the new farm. The rhino was just shot and no portion of the horn was taken. She was dehorned the day before so there was basically nothing there anyways, so they think the killing was just a screw you to the owner showing that they know he moved his rhinos and where they are now. I’m not going to lie poaching never felt as real to me as it did in that moment. When an animal I had seen alive, monitored breathing on, touched and took pictures with was shot heartlessly for no reason. Two weeks ago the number of rhinos poached in South Africa was 449, ALREADY. That is insane because in 2012, 668 rhinos were poached in South Africa. At the alarming rate of poaching this year, the numbers will far exceed last years.

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That night we drove to a new farm outside Louis Trichard and we got to eat Sushi at a sketch place called Yummy Kitchen. I made it out alive and the sushi actually was pretty good. A couple days later we caught our first baby giraffe! Fact: Baby giraffes always look like they’re smiling so you can’t help but smile at how adorable they permanently look. The next two days we woke up 3:30am to catch more baby giraffes, which was incredibly tiring but incredibly worth it. With giraffes, and especially with babies, it is essential that the drugs used to sedate the animal are immediately reversed once the animal goes down because giraffes do not tolerate potent drugs well. The reversal is given directly into the jugular vein and consists of Dopram and Naltrexone. While the animal is being reversed a blindfold is taped on and cotton wool is put into the ears to help reduce the stress of transport. The baby giraffe is then carried into the back of a truck and taken to a transport truck. I have tons of pictures cuddling the baby giraffes so those will be up eventually. Prepare for cuteness overload. One of the babies tried to French kiss me, it was actually kind of awesome. Has a giraffe ever tried to go to first base with you? Nope didn’t think so.

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Then we did net capture, which is where you put out a bunch of high nets and hide in the tall grass. You literally lay down flat in the grass and hide until the helicopter chases the animals into the nets and then you run and grab the animals in the net. A reedbuck ran right next to Jessie and I while we were lying in the grass and another reedbuck jumped over one of the students in the grass, it was amazing. The game capture director started betting the guys that whoever got to the animal first in the net got a 2 liter of coke, I’ve never seen guys run so fast in my life.

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We also caught Nyalas on a golf course, which was quite comical. Shaun darted them out of a golf cart and then a group of 4 golf carts pursued the animal all over the golf course. Talk about hilarious. I think the guys could run faster then the golf carts and not to mention the weird looks we got from golfers. That night Jessie and I got to wake up every 2 hours to feed a week old baby lamb. That lamb was lucky he was cute because we were exhausted the next day.

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Anyways that’s about all the excitement I have for now. Hope your summer has been full of giraffe make outs and leopard scares! Prayers are appreciated for my attempt to fly standby home. Right now it’s a little stressful, but hopefully I will get home effortlessly. Missing everyone at home right now!

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PS: Steph, your week 10 letter was EXACTLY what I needed to read this week. Thanks for blessing me with your words of encouragement.

Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.
The LORD is their strength, And He is a saving defense to His anointed.
Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.

Cheers,

B.EAST

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2

When in Rome

UPDATE

So these past three weeks have been incredibly INSANE and I have barely had time to shower let alone have access to internet. So this is a BIG update in one!

Here is what I have been doing over the past couple of weeks

June 12th –- Jessie and I drove with Gavin 6 hours and met up with the darting group at Mapumgubwe lodge (Near the Botswana border).

June 13th – We darted and captured a Sable bull and a Tsebee bull. We drove back to Maps (Mapumgubwe) and went on a game walk with Don, the ranger who runs Maps, and we saw 10 giraffe and learned lots of things about animal spoor (another word for footprints) I thought spoor meant poop for the longest time…..embarasssinnnnngg.

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June 14th – DARTED AND CAPTURED A MALE BLACK RHINO! This is in all caps because it’s KIND OF AWESOME. AND BY KIND OF I MEAN IT IS REALLY AWESOME. This black rhino male was moved to a location where he would be paired with a female for breeding (Black rhino are more threatened than white rhino with numbers lower than 5,000 in the wild) He broke through a fence after we darted him and then when we tried to walk him into the crate he literally drug everyone through the bush (Don’t worry I got a pretty awesome video of it). White rhinos are much easier to crate because they usually walk right in….black rhinos on the other hand are a little more stubborn and fierce. The main difference phenotypically between the black and white rhino is in the face, the black rhino has a triangular mouth and the white rhino has a square mouth. I will post pictures of the black rhino either here or on Facebook so everyone can see the difference! We then drove to Narboumespruit (spelling? Haha) and stayed the night at Bundox’s main bush camp.

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June 15th – Day off and I got to call Courtni and Abbie on her wedding day!!! And got to talk to Jenn and Crescenda! SO awesome to hear from all of them  CONGRATS TO NICK AND ABBIE ON HAPPILY EVER AFTER!

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June 16th – Darted and caught the female black rhino (SOOOO AWESOME) at a local zoo….except this zoo was HUGE and it took them 45 minutes to find her in the helicopter. She was also much older and her crating was far less eventful than the males. We then drove her to where the male was being kept and she was unloaded in a adjacent boma to him. After she was unloaded and next to him they were rubbing horns and whining to each other, it was definitely love at first sight and they are going to make sweet rhino love. They’re waiting to let them in together until then find a third female for the group because if you introduce a new female to an already established herd of black rhino they will kill her. Talk about a welcoming party! There was also a lot of media there because this is a really big deal for them to be together. And they anti-poaching team there is pretty intense, 8 or more guys armed heavily surrounding the boma 24 hours a day.

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June 17th – Drove to a local farm and was supposed to catch a group of Nyala’s but after we darted the first one she ran all the way to the opposite side of the farm and we couldn’t find her for 45 minutes in HEAVY bush and grass so Shaun (the veterinarian) decided it was not an optimal situation so he told the guy to get them into a smaller pen and we’d come back and dart the rest of them. We then drove back to Bundox bush camp.

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June 18th – Darted four female buffalo for blood draws to check for disease before transport. We got charged by an angry female buffalo in the back of the bakkie (trucks here) but luckily she missed us by a couple inches. Then drove to another farm to dart and move two male buffalo bulls. The fun part about this adventure was we weren’t using a chopper so Shaun had to get close enough on the back of the truck to dart the buffalo….in the thick bush without it trying to kill us. HAHA. The first one was relatively easy and afterwards we loaded him into a front loader and put him in the pen. The second one took over 2 hours to get because we couldn’t get close enough before he would run away and we were driving through the thickest bush in the world and I have more bruises on my back and arms to prove it. Eventually we caught him and transported him over to the pen. We tried to dart a third female but wasn’t able to with the amount of daylight left. The guy who owned the farm made us dinner and it was amazing partly because we hadn’t eaten breakfast or lunch. I ate like a caveman and I have zero regrets about it. We then drove 3 hours to Trapeze bush camp for the night.

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June 19th – Darted and transported five white rhinos (including a little 2 month old calf SO CUTE). They were being moved because the rest of their group was poached and the owner wanted them out of danger before they were also killed. I volunteered to be in charge of the rotors kits which is all of the DNA samples as well as horn measurements and microchips. It was pretty intense trying to get all of the information in such a short time; horn measurements, body tissue sample, horn sample, blood samples, horn measurements, body microchip, front horn and back horn microchips. We then had to weight the removed horn, microchip it and write the chip number on the bottom in case the horn is found in the black market they know where it came from etc. After we had them all crated and dehorned and whatnot we drove them four hours to their new location, which has a well established anti-poaching team. We had to unload them in the dark which was scary because you can’t see where they are or if they’re going to charge. FUN. After the baby was unloaded she decided to charge the truck and tore all the lights off the back and dinged it up pretty good. We then drove to Porcupine bush camp in Hoedspruit.

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Side note: Driving in a truck with Rhinos and rhino horns in South Africa is pretty dangerous…. but don’t worry Mom and Dad we lived!

June 20th – Joined mass capture team and caught 10 eland

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June 21st – Joined mass capture team again and caught 70+ impala’s. Went to the lodge for lunch and I tried to push Lalla (one of the workers at Bundox) into the dam and they ended up getting me in the water instead, but I put up a good fight and I got Lalla back so we’re even.

 

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June 22nd – Caught 43 Zebra’s in mass capture. I have some hilarious videos from that one, being in a tree when zebra are running full force underneath you. AWESOME.

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June 23rd – Darted an Eland at a local farm but the one we caught was out of the price range of the buyer Bundox was working for so we released that one and caught a different one. Drove from Hoedspruit to Maps and stayed there for the night.

June 24th – Went on a game drive and then drove to mass captures new site and caught 29 waterbuck. Drove to a friend of Bundox’s farm and stayed in his amazing guest house for the night. I helped make dinner for everyone (Thanks Dad for teaching me how to cook for mass quantities of people)

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June 25th – Woke up early in the morning and loaded the waterbuck into the truck and trailer and drove all the way to Phinda with Lalla and Melina. TWELVE HOURS IN THE CAR. It was ridiculous, but also really fun.

June 26th – Unloaded the waterbuck and joined Shaun and the darting team, darted 10 Nyala bulls from the back of the bakkie. The cool thing about Nyalas is that after they are darted and the drugs start kicking in you can whistle and make grunting noises and wave something and they will be so confused they will literally walk straight to you. Makes it a little easier sometimes….key word SOMETIMES.

June 27th – Loaded nyala’s early in the morning and set off for Alldays but then the weather got bad so we turned around and went back to Phinda to see if it would clear up…it didn’t. So we were going to have to stay another night at Phinda (which was sleeping on the floor on mats in a ramshack house, FUN). So we unloaded all of the Nyala’s in the rain back into the boma and went to town to eat breakfast. Then the owner of Bundox called Lalla and told him to just come back without the Nyalas so we had to drive back to Phinda and re-pack all of our stuff and make the 10 hour drive to Bundox bush camp for the night.

June 28th – Drove the rest of the way to Maps and met up with the rest of the team that had been doing mass capture. Watched Anchor man and had dinner and went to SLEEP.

June 29th – We had the weekend off (All the workers at Bundox get the last four days of the month off) so Don took us on a game drive to eat lunch on the Limpopo river which borders Botswana. It was such an incredible place, and we got to swim in the Limpopo river and stand in no mans land (between South Africa and Botswana)
June 30th – Don took us to see Bushman paintings which are over 2,000 years old. They were pretty incredible! Then we drove to a local crocodile farm and got a tour. They are the main exporter of crocodile to Italy to become Gucci bags and whatnot haha. We got to hold a baby crocodile which was scary but also really cool. The place flooded a couple months ago and they lost 15,000 crocodiles. HAHAHA. They recaptured some but now there are crocodiles everywhere near the Limpopo…where we were swimming

 

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June 30th — Day off // watched movies

July 1st — Shaun and Lalla met us at Maps day off and get ready for the week

July 2nd — Darted four buffalo, a rhino and a male roan.

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July 3rd — Morning off, went and hung out at the Lodge at Maps. Drove up on a pride of lions at night after a kill on a Wildebeest which was awesome!

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July 4th — Today we’re darting a buffalo and a roan potentially

So yes, that is what I have been doing over the past three weeks! I also decided to stay at game capture for my last four weeks and not go to the veterinary project; mainly because I have enjoyed the darting team and working with the rhinos and the veterinary project doesn’t see many rhinos and that’s what I have found the most interest in. So I have five more weeks of traveling around South Africa! Now hopefully you all can see why I haven’t been updating because we’re always in the car and we are never in the same place for more than two days, if that! Time has flown by so fast but I am still having the time of my life here! Thanks to everyone who has been following my blog, and I will try to be more diligent in updating in these last couple of weeks. I have been putting pictures on Facebook because they take forever to load on my blog so be looking there for pictures!

Love you all !

Also shout out to my twin sister Courtni for kicking ass and taking names in her first round of classes in her Masters program at U of H Clear Lake! So proud of you!

On the road again,

B.EAST

 

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