What an incredible last two days we have had out on the Gamepark!
We set off early on Thursday morning to Somkhanda game reserve where we were going to be tracking White and Black Rhinos on foot through the Gamepark using radio telemetry equipment. Though we had to get up early it was definitely worth it when we arrived and saw the beautiful landscape that was going to be explored over the day,
After having breakfast we learnt about the problems with poaching of Rhinos for their horns and the illegal ivory trade and the importance of places like Somkhanda that are doing everything they can to protect these incredible creatures.Each of the adult Rhinos in the park has a tracking device attached so that they can be monitored by radio telemetry to ensure their safety. Even with all the effort being put in four rhino have been killed over the past few months so the work we were doing was very important.
Heading off into the gamepark we would drive until we reached high areas where we could scan for Rhinos and then record data on their size, health and age. Even with the equipment it proved very hard to trac the rhinos as they kept catching our sent as we travelled through the bush. Throughout the morning we didn’t manage to find any although we found many tracks and even came across the tracks of the highly endangered Black Rhino and a new born baby. Not ones to give up easy we set out again in the afternoon determined to be successful.
The hard work definitely paid off when after an hour of walking we came across not one but 5 Rhinos including a baby rhino. It was amazing to see a Big 5 animal while trekking on foot and not in a safari vehicle. It also meant we had to be sure to keep our space for safety.
It made all the tiring walking worth it to see these Rhinos and record the data on them for Somkhanda reserve.
That night we travelled back to our home reserve amazed at how much we had seen in the past few hours and sat round the fire till late under the stars making the most of every moment.
In the morning it was time to pack our gear and leave the reserve as we look to move onto the next stage of our volunteering but not before filling the day with activities.
Firs went to the Zulu Croc and Reptile centre where we had a highly educational lesson on the different Snakes in Southern Africa with a chance to hold them as well!
After that we went outside and learnt about the different species of crocodiles who live in Africa and watched them feed. This information will give us a greater understanding of the species of which their are 1200 in St Lucia where we are based for the next week.
After leaving the Zulu Croc and Reptile centre we made our way to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park where we were meeting the other half of the group who have been doing amazing work at the creche this past week. It was extremely sad to say goodbye to our guides Uys and Richard who have not only provided amazing service and information but plenty of laughs along the way.
With overcast weather and the first spots of rain for the past few months we knew we had good weather for spotting Big 5 animals, but little did we know how lucky we would be. no more than 2 minutes into our drive and we found three incredible rhinos on the side of the road.
We had already spotted Buffalo (another member of the Big 5) and knew we were off to a good start. Then just down the road we came across an even more incredible sight, over 40 Elephants heading to the local watering hole!
Our amazing run of luck (or perhaps we are just really good) doesn’t seem to be running out! As we continued through the park we saw Giraffe, Nyala and plenty of Warthogs as well as nearly 10 more Rhino.
After finishing up at the Gamepark we travelled to St Lucia where we will be based for the next week. We had a chance to settle into our accommodation and walk around the town for the Orientation and are so excited to get started on our work at the Creche tomorrow. It has been a fantastic first week we have all grown so close and witnessed an amazing number of animals, I can’t wait to see what our second week has in store.
I will upload a range of photos from the past week tomorrow now that I have a steady internet connection. Thank you so much to all the friends and family who have followed the blog so far, especially those with your amazing supportive comments. There will be plenty more pictures this week so everyone you know will feature prominently if they haven’t so far! Also I will be now writing the blogs labelled as CRECHE BLOG so be sure to check them out this week.
Much love Dan!