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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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)
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
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.
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!
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,