So today is our penultimate day at Somkhanda Game Reserve .. it’s almost hard to believe as it feels like we have only been here for a couple of days at yet today is day 4 !! After our social night last night after playing games and telling stories we all feel we know just a little bit too much about each other now after some very revealing revelations !! But those will stay secret between the group .
We’re going to be doing a lot of walking today as this morning we have planned to meet up with the APU ( Anti-poaching Unit ) guys and head out to section 1 of the reserve to do a Snare Sweep of the area . Breakfast thank god was a little later so we could have a bit of an extra lie in after our late night last night .
PLEASE NOTE WE WERE FORBIDDEN FROM BRINGING CAMERAS ON THE SNARE SWEEP SO UNFORTUNATELY THERE WILL BE NO PICTURES OF THE ACTUAL SWEEP .
At 6:40 we departed the lodge to go and meet up with the rangers and guides and another larger group of African students who will also be joining us on the sweep as the more numbers we have the better as there will be more eyes and we can cover a greater area . Charles who is second in command with the APU heads up the sweep and briefs us on how to behave and what to expect on the walk . It’s imperative that these snare sweeps take place
He explained that we will be walking through some thick sickle bush and Rhinos may be present in the area so we need to be silent and very vigilante paying full attention to our surroundings while keeping an eye out for snares . Poachers use these snares to either catch Rhino for their horn or for smaller game that they use for the purposes of meat and feeding their families . It is literally just a small loop of wire with a noose loop on one end so that when something gets stuck inside and tries to walk off it just gets pulled tighter and traps the animal .
We split up into 2 teams mixing with the other students each taking a ranger with us and begin walking single file up the road to our start point . Once reaching the start point we all line up side by side about 5 metres apart and begin our sweep through the bush . It is such a hot day today and even after 15-20 minutes we were all dripping with sweat .
Our group on the right side of the road had some very tough terrain to get through .. thick sickle bushes and ravines to climb up and down but they did a fantastic job , during their seep they found 17 snares although some of them may have been old they still needed to be cleared up and discarded of . They also found a huge Monitor Lizard just over a metre long which when provoked by their ranger headed for the nearest tree and climbed right to the top after scaring some of the Zulu students haha .
The second group managed to find 5 snares which is also a good thing because it means there hasn’t been that much activity in the area but other than it was a pretty uneventful walk although they did come across the carcass of a small Impala youth that had been ravaged by the Wild Dogs .
Finishing the sweep we met up with everyone else and had some good banter about our experiences during the sweep but after walking for the last 2 and a bit hours in the baking sun we were all pretty knackered and couldn’t wait to get back to the lodge to relax and have a bit of a nap haha .. see pics below :p .
After resting for a while Oomps decided to give everyone a bit of a talk on the reserve itself and the layout and general history etc while the rest of us had managed to blag some time up in the neighbouring camps swimming pool !! Although it wasn’t super clean we honestly didn’t care and grabbed the opportunity with both hands to just jump into and relax in some cool water during this scorcher of a day .
Just as we had all settled into the pool the storm clouds began forming and chased away the sun .. typical but a good thing as we desperately need some rain on the reserve but as luck would have it .. every time it looks like we may have a good downpour it just blows over and rains next door !
This however was good news for our afternoon activity as we will be yet again working up a sweat doing some bush clearing . 4 o’clock came around and it was time to gather the necessary tools , load up and head to the area we’ll be cleaning which is next to one of the old water cribs where we were asked to clear out the sickle bushes .
The reason why we’re doing this is to 1 ) open up the area a little which makes it easier for game viewing and 2 ) so we could place the chopped down bushes around the bare game paths by the crib to avoid too much erosion taking place and ruining the ecology of the area .
We donned our gloves and chose our weapons before beginning to hack away at the VERY prickly bushes that seemed to be scratching and poking us constantly but Ben was on hand with his first aid kit which we knew would be taken advantage of ! Sickle bushes are surprisingly hard to clear and chop down especially with these “ pangas “ kind of like mini machetes but after watching Oomps and Ben plough their way through them there must have been a knack to it but we did our best .
All of a sudden we heard a burst of laughter coming from behind us .. somehow Ali had managed to fall into a massive hole .. we have nooo idea how she didn’t see it but fell straight in haha hilarious !
As the afternoon pushed on and 6 o’clock came around we had to drop tools and marvel at our work as we had managed to clear about a 10-15 metre long and 4-5 metre wide area of sickle bushes which was quite an achievement for about 90 minutes of work !!
This evening we had our first night drive to experience some of the different nocturnal animals that may be roaming around the reserve so we had high hopes for Leopard and Hyena … did we see Leopard and Hyena … NO :’( .. what did we see ??! … Impala … some more Impala .. at last some Nyala and a Kudu .. then … Impala … a few more Impala A Spotted Eagle Owl ( woohoo ) A Journey of Giraffes and to finish the night off .. some more …. IMPALA ( bloody things ) haha .
Oh we also came up with a Team Name .. which is B B B … you’ll have to ask us when we get home what it means as T.L Ben won’t write it on the blog haha so your probably guessing it has something to do with him and you’d be on the right track :p . So make of it what you will