Rhino Tales

Week two of South African adventures!!

This week has flow by much faster than the first, although it still feels like I have been here forever already. We have officially all moved to the new location, as well as almost all of the animals minus a couple that we will move this week. I am still on the Cats team, which has been really exciting. Feeding a baby lion cub everyday can officially be checked off my bucket list. And eating lunch with a baby mongoose trying to jump in your bowl. The people here are amazing, I am feeling a little left out without an accent though. I had two embarrassing word translations but we can all laugh about it now
1. Apparently a fanny pack to them means vagina so I told them I almost brought my fanny pack with me to South Africa but decided against it. Needless to say they were cracking up explaining what it meant to them translated.
2. In the UK the work ‘pants’ means underwear so I told a girl I liked her pink pants and she was like uhm…thanks and later explained she thought I was complimenting her underwear and thought that I was a perv. HAHA OOPS.

Wednesday the veterinarian and game capture team came to the old location and darted the three baby rhinos for transport. It was such a massive ordeal but it all ran smoothly. The veterinarian darts the rhino then waits about 10 minutes and goes in and blindfolds them so that they don’t get even more stressed out for transport. We all then went in and started monitoring breathing (respiration decreases under sedation and one of the rhino’s has a prior history of faring badly under sedation). Once we got in there we placed an IV catheter in their ears and gave them a bunch of injections (antibiotics, anti-parasitic etc.) FYI giving a rhino an injection is pretty crazy you have to literally grab the needle towards the top of the syringe and stab hard to get through their tough skin. Afterwards you all pull on ropes and push them into transport crates, where they are then dehorned (to prevent poaching and it is done humanely) and then the transport crates are picked up with a crane and placed into the back of a flatbed moving truck. This process is repeated until all three were in crates on trucks. I got to ride in the back of the third truck with the littlest rhino Timbi and two other guys named Johnny and Emmanuel. The ride was about an hour and we monitored her breathing and made sure she didn’t fall down or smoosh her face and suffocate in the crate. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life, riding in the back of a flatbed truck monitoring a baby rhino through the mountains of South Africa….WHAT!?!

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All of the rhinos recovered nicely that day but the next day one of them fell lame on her back left leg. She either dislocated her hip or pinched a nerve so Petronel (the head of Care for Wild) called the veterinarian to come out immediately. They gave her injections and electrolytes to help with her stress and exhaustion. She was MUCH better the next day and seems to have fixed the problem on her own, which is good news. We are all thankful she is okay.

Thursday I got to go to Kruger with a small group of other volunteers, which was an AMAZING experience. There is literally nothing that comes close to seeing wild animals in their natural habitat. We saw giraffes, elephants, rhinos, hippos, a hyena with her cub, a pack of 20 AFRICAN WILD DOGS (which are super rare to see), Wildebeest, antelope and a bunch of other exciting animals. It was an awesome break from working and I got 30 minutes of good internet which is rare in South Africa. I also went a little crazy in the gift shop. Everyone needs to add Kruger to their bucket list!

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I got really sick on Friday, so I was out for a good 24 hours with raging sickness. It was miserable and all I did was cry and miss home the whole time. I even used someone’s phone to pathetically text my mom that I was sick and I missed her. It was nice to get a reassuring reply back and an ‘I love you’ from her. I am actually feeling much better today, still a little weak but definitely much better than before, thank God for prescription medicines.

So that’s pretty much all I have for now!!

LOVE,

B.EAST

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