COS 2 OUT OF 5 AIN’T BAD …

So last night after dinner there seemed to be a lot of activity around one of the girls tables which caught the interest of everyone else so we all decided to sit around and listen . Leanna was keeping everyone entertained with her stories and this in turn evolved into story time with everyone chipping in with different life stories . However we have been sworn to secrecy and cannot repeat anything of what was said but it was an awesome way for us all to open up to the group which definitely made us all feel more comfortable around each other .

Right , so …. On to today . Alarms once again began waking the group up at around 5am with breakfast slightly after at about 5:30 which consisted of just light cereal and yoghurt . We were all eager to get the day started as our first plan for the day was to head out and track the Rhinos with Oomps .

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Gathering on the game viewer we had a short briefing by Oomps on how to use the telemetry equipment to track them . The equipment was just a simple aerial which was connected to a small signal box in which all of the Rhino collar signals were stored on . Each collared Rhino in South Africa is given a unique signal each with its own identity kit so that IF any were to wander off around other reserves you would know where it is originally from .

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It was another scorcher of a day with temperatures already hitting the mid twenties by 6am so we got started as quick as possible just to have the breeze keep us cool as we travelled along . Oomps had heard that the majority of the Rhinos had been seen in one of the far corners of the reserve so to give us a fighting chance we decided to begin there .

Things started out slowly with sightings of just the usual suspects small antelope and Warthog etc we then caught sight of the reserves on foot Rhino trackers who’s constant job is to keep an eye on them . By now the skies had become overcast which made it difficult to use the telemetry as the signal just kept bouncing back and made it hard to target a specific area . So a plan was made to head to higher ground to improve the signal .

By now we were close to the main gate … as we made our way along the track without even having to use the telemetry equipment ( which kind of took away the whole point of the activity ) we stumbled upon 4 WHITE RHINO !!!!! WOW !!! Our first sighting of Rhino and we see 4 of them .. we are having such amazing luck this week :p .

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All of the White Rhino here have been dehorned for the purposes of deterring poachers as South Africa still has a huge poaching problem for their horn as at the moment it is one of the most valuable commodities on the planet . This however is ridiculous because Eastern countries think it has aphrodisiacal properties but this has been scientifically proven to be completely untrue as all their horn is made up of is Keratin ( which is what normal hair and nails is made of ) and yet it still happens and around 1000 Rhinos are being poached every year in SA !!

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Many different ideas have been thrown around to try and deter poachers from taking the horn and yet nothing seems to be prevailing so if any of you back home have any ideas PLEASE forward them on to us so we can take credit for them :p lol .
Anyway back to our day … we sat and watched them for a while before they began to make their way further into the thicket of the bush for some privacy and to continue grazing . We still had plenty of time left on our drive so decided to carry on and see if we could find any of the others . Unfortunately we never managed to find any but we did however have some really cool other sightings after some of Oomps amazing driving manoeuvres ! We finally managed to spot male and female Kudu , a small tortoise as it was crossing the road and a Leopard Tortoise also crossing the road which is one of the small five animals , yet a other tick off the list :p .

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At some points along the way because we kept stopping to view game our vehicle we kept breaking down and so had to jump out and make a team effort to push the vehicle to get it jump started which was pretty fun knowing that Rhinos might be around the area :/ lol

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The last part of our day we drove up to a local viewpoint called Shaya Moya which has a great 360 degree view of the reserve so we took this as a great opportunity to grab a quick group photo before heading back down past the female Wild Dog Boma to be surprised with her chowing down on an Impala carcass.. this day just keeps getting better and better .

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Finally it was time to chow down ourselves on a nice hot breakfast before making our own packed lunch and travelling down to Bayete Zulu for …. Our ELEPHANT INTERACTION !!! Told you we had an awesome surprise for you guys today :p .

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The reason we get to interact we these elephants is because they have spent most of their lives around humans and crave the interaction as they now cannot be fully wild again . On Bayete there are 3 Ellies Rambo .. the large Bull , Rachel .. the matriarch and Jabulani the young cow . Jabulani still has the chance to be released so we won’t be interacting with her just feeding her .. Rambo we will be getting up close and personal with .

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We all get settled down and sit and while waiting for the handlers to bring the elephants up to the viewing area we are given an intro on how these 3 Elephants came to be on the reserve and what to expect during the presentation and interaction . Suddenly fro over the brow of the hill we could see these huge grey lumps appearing .. finally the Ellies had arrived !! Yoh we didnt realise how big they would actually be up close .. they are huge !

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Our guide then began giving us a presentation on everything you could possibly want to know about Elephants .. their breeding and mating habits .. social structure .. anatomy of males and females .. behaviour in different situations .. feeding habits .. and plenty of facts about these colossal animals . We know feel we could literally pass a PHD on Elephants !!

Then the moment we had all been waiting for … time to split into pairs and have the opportunity to interact with Rambo !! First off we got the chance to feed him into the crook of his trunk because one of his trunk muscles was damaged when he was younger and he is now not able to feed like a normal African Elephant .

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Next up we got the chance to feel under the skin by the top of his tusks and feel behind his ears as this is where his veins are closest to the skin and he uses his ears to control his body temperature by cooling and heating these veins .
The handler then asked him to put his trunk up between his tusks and we fed him right into his mouth by placing the feed pellets right onto his tongue and my god it was soo slimy but yet soo smooth .. his teeth are huge so we were a little bit sceptical about placing our hands up there .. eeeek ! loll

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Finally we grabbed him by the tusks and took an awesome photo with our new friend for life . We were then asked to walk over to Jabulani and Rachel and feed them as they were feeling slightly left out .

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THIS EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE AND WILL FOREVER STAY IN OUR MEMORIES !

On the drive back we stopped off at a local town to pick up a few extra supplies and a few bevvies for our Potjie ( stew ) and social night so we can all let loose a little bit and relax .

Arriving back at the lodge a little competition between 2 team members was about to begin .. yesterday Merinda and Michala had a bet with each other on how many states there are on the American Flag and the challenge was to name them all and the loser had to jump in what was left of the manky water in the swimming pool .. Ewwww .

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The challenge began and it was a hard fought battle but with every competition there can only be one winner and in this case it was … Merinda !! This meant unfortunately Michala had to take the plunge much to her dismay .. BUT she stepped up to the challenge and bit the bullet .. fairplay to her !!

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As we had no plans for the afternoon Ben decided to play a few more team building games .. what did he have install for us now …. :/ !! haha . We are only 11 so our guide Oomps joined the team of 5 to up the numbers . We walked down to his little task arena and just saw 2 sets of a piece of rope tied between 2 trees at shoulder height .. what was he expecting us to do ??!! very confused . He then explained to us that we all needed to start on one side of the rope and without touching the rope or the trees we had to get every team member onto the other side of the rope by going over the top .. WWWHHHAAATTT !! How were we supposed to do that .

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So to the what seemed to be mission impossible task at hand we began debating how best to go about this ridiculous task haha .. ideas were flying everywhere and there was no way either team was going to lose to the other lol . So we tried out a few of our theories , some seemed to work and some didn’t but then as soon as a few were over we had to change tactics again .. so it was a constant brain teaser !! But you know what we finally managed to get our head around things and it all started to come together .. and work as a team .

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Each team began with 6 members and at the final point each team had one member left to get over so it was a race to the finish .. it was a very close fought fight but we had to have a winner and it was … Geremy , Hamish , Sarah , Merinda , Bert , Michala !!
To even things up and bring the full team back together he had one little game left in store for us .. and it involved all of us at the same time .. he placed a small rope ring on the floor and told us that all of us had to be inside the ring with none of us touching the floor on the outside of the ring .. REALLLYYYY ??!! Where does he find these games !! This one took even longer to work out .. soo long in fact that Ben and Oomps decided to throw stones at a tree to gain points on each other .. that’s how bored they got !! lol

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EVENTUALLY after about 30 minutes or so we finally managed to hold each other up and all stand off the ground inside the ring for 5 seconds .. we almost gave up BUT we pulled through as a team and completed the task at hand .. these games seemed pretty stupid at the beginning but we know see how they actually work and bring us all together and respect each others opinions and ideas :p .

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Jassis it seems we have been talking for hours so to finish off the night we had an amazing Potjie cooked by our very own Bertie .. soo delicious finished off by a couple of drinks and some other games . Yoh were even tired just from talking soo .. we shall call that a night and see you all in the morning ..

Good night from beautiful South Africa .