St. Lucia Lovin!

Hello to one and all, we’re back to civilization once again and access to my laptop with wifi! The past 4 days at the game reserve went by in an absolute blur.  When we arrived Monday we broke off in teams to learn the value of teamwork in the African bush, very important for  tracking animals on foot! In the morning we split apart with one team doing a game count.  This is done by counting every type of animal you see and measuring the distance, location, degree to the road. Game counts help provide information to determine the rise or decline of certain animal species. The other group went on  a bush walk and was taught how to properly look at a track to determine how old they are and what kind of animal left them. After we met up we went and collected camera traps to see if any endangered animals had walked by. This is done to see the where about of certain species and to make sure they are still healthy.

On wednesday we set off for the Elephant encounter where we met ginormous African elephants and were able to get up close and personal with them by touching their trunks and feeding them by hand! We were able to meet his wife Rachel and their daughter Jabulani, which means happiness due to her always smiling.  On our way out of the elephant encounter we even came across a sleeping lion! When we made it back to Somkhanda we had to hurry and get into our tracking gear because it was time to use the radio telemetry to try and locate a white rhino on foot! We were  all able to get within 15 meters of these two rhinos without them even knowing we were even there. It was absolutely incredible!!  The next morning we split up into our groups and one did the bush walk while the other group went on a snare patrol, walking the fence line looking for traps set by poachers. They were able to find 2!  When we met up for lunch we had a debate, which currently is a huge talk amongst SA conservationists. We talked about whether or not they should legalize the rhino horn trade, each side having very good arguments. When this was finished we set off to remove an invasive species of plant that grows like a weed, only much larger and hard to tug out. Armed with machetes and shovel we removed a 100 meter section in the river bank.  Finishing up we headed up to one of the tallest mountains in the reserve and watched the most glorious sunset with with pink and red colors setting behind the mountains.  

    Today we left the game park and went on a big 5 game park safari in Imfolozi, the oldest game park in SA.  Here we saw giraffe, elephant, zebra , and all kinds of animals!! After eating lunch in the park we headed to St. Lucia which is where our creche part of the program will proceed.  As soon as we got to our accommodation half the group split up between going to the beach and hanging out checking out the local shops and such.  Met up back for dinner and now all just hanging out playing cards in excitement for tomorrow. Tomorrow will have many amazing sights so i’ll talk to you later!

P.s. if you want anything passed along to your wonderful volunteer or to have a shout out post it here I will be happy to pass it along!

Peace, Love, Tranquilty,

-Justin