Morning morning morning! The alarms were early again today as the braai night went very late. We just can’t stop talking and playing games, so going to bed late is too easy. I guarantee it won’t be tonight, though because we were all struggling with sleep deprivation this morning. Luckily, the cooks at Somkhanda know how to provide a pick me up!! They brought out the most delicious sausage, eggs, toast, beans and coffee for us. It was exactly what we needed, and it immediately out everyone in a better mood.
Work was finally upon us today! We managed to escape the calls of the hard work for the last few days, but today was the day we got to get down and dirty. We are such a great asset for the park because we are able to use our numbers to help immensely with ridding the areas of alien intrusive plants. They are intrusive because they are all dead, and they are encroaching on the grass that could be growing there for the animals to feed on. Not only that, but cutting them down opens up the wilderness for the owners to bring in more animals like elephants and buffalo in the future. Group A was the first to take a whack at it (literally). We walked to the site where we whacked and sawed and pushed until those trees were falling all over the place. Man, it was a lot of work, but it made us feel so great afterwards! They worked so hard for three hours straight and made a ton of progress. Before, the place was filled with the dead trees and now it is so much more open!
Group B had an extreme adventure this morning too! It was their turn again to utilize the telemetry systems to track rhinos. Now, white rhinos are extremely endangered in Africa because poachers are hunting them in the game parks, cutting off their horns and selling them on the black market for ridiculous amounts of money. The demand is high for rhino horn because in Asia, it is believed that it can be used for medicinal purposes. The problem is that when the poachers cut the horn off, they try to get the entire thing and cut so deep it causes the rhino to bleed out. It has gotten so bad that over 1400 rhinos were killed just last year. Some parks like Somkhanda have cut part of the horns off their rhinos to deter hunters, but there is still a threat for them to collect the last portion of the horn. Therefore, monitoring them and keeping up to date everyday on their whereabouts is so important. We can now say that we’re helping protect these amazing creatures.
We tracked our booties off with the equipment and found a signal that seemed fairly close. It wasn’t actually that close though because we ended up getting out and walking for ages through the brush. I don’t think we were expecting such a long haul, but it was completely worth it! We came up quietly to the rhinos grazing nearby, and we realized how massive they actually were. There were three humongous white rhinos eating away in front of us!! Omps was our guide today and did an incredible job of finding and leading us. He also made a quick decision to walk around a tree they were near to get a bit closer without making much noise when all of a sudden, a black rhino popped its head up from the grass. It was looking straight at us!! Thank goodness for Omps. He reacted immediately by saying, “Hey” and by doing that, he was able to scare the rhino away before anything happened. Eesh what a rush!! Seeing a black white rhino all in one setting is more than any of us expected when we left today. Words can’t even describe that experience. Sorry for the lack of rhino pictures, but it all happened so fast! Looks like that memory isn’t ours to share.
We all took a break for lunch and had a nice relaxing time playing cards, talking, napping and bustin some wicked moves. It wasn’t a pretty sight to be honest, but it gave us a chuckle or two. Maybe 12….
Then, it was time to go again with the different groups. We swapped the duties around and Group B went out to cut the trees while Group A got to go for the rhino tracking.
Group B was a hoot to work with this afternoon! They were on such a high from the rhinos that chopping trees was exciting to them. They were thrilled to saw the trees, muscle them out of the roots and get everything cleared. It was an awesome time. Who knew hard work could be so fun?? The pile is massive now too!! Just look at how many trees they demolished!!
Group A had a really nice drive in the game park, but unfortunately didn’t get to see the beloved rhinos. They did, however, see a black rhino the other day on their drive so they still appreciated their leisurely drive. They saw some fun wildlife along the way of course, and those never get old to see!
Tonight Group A will participate in their night drive that the others got to do on Tuesday night, and they’re looking so cute bundled up in blankets and flashlights to scout for animals. We certainly hope to see many things tonight, but just being out in the park at this time is a crazy cool experience in and of itself. Tomorrow we have more work to do, so let’s get ready to rumble!!
Thanks for all your comments and for keeping up to date!
Love from us all,
The African Princess Tara