Back in the game reserve… it was nice to go back to a place where I knew the lay of the land, metaphorically speaking. The reserve is way too big for a girl with no sense of direction to find her way around after only 3 weeks there; however, I will say that I was able to direct my friends correctly when they dropped me off there!
The game ranger, Konrad, loved watching the elephants, and after two weeks away he was having withdrawal symptoms. My first day back on the reserve was therefore spent looking for as many elephants as we could find! We found something like 50 of the 60 elephants on the reserve, which was pretty good for day one!
Around this time, a rhino had been poached on another reserve, and she had a calf, so the calf was taken to the rehab hospital at Shamwari. We got to see his arrival.
Rhinos are social animals, and so can’t be alone, particularly after the traumatic experience of watching his mother be hacked to pieces just for her horn. The vets at the hospital needed to find a surrogate family for the rhino, and who did they find? A jersey cow, an orphaned buffalo, and an orphaned zebra. The three animals were introduced to the rhino, who did not take kindly to this, and charged the poor animals relentlessly, to the point that the poor cow got a nasty gash on her head… after a while, they were separated, and a day or so later, a lone donkey took their place, which the rhino seemed to take more kindly to. It was quite a sight!
Walking the Cheetahs
My final week at Shamwari was another exciting one. We went looking for the cheetah, and found them, and ‘walked them.’ In the wild, this means, getting out of the protection of the vehicle, and walking in the bush. Standing face to face with these big, powerful cats is certainly an experience not to be missed, although I certainly felt very vulnerable, particularly, as I’m sure one was staring straight at me for what felt like a significant period of time!
A Day with the Vet
The next day, we watched the vet examine a limping caracal, and then got to help feed the baby white lion cubs, rhino and warthog. Feeding the lion cubs was probably a highlight for me. There are two of them, and for those of you who don’t know, white lions are extremely rare. These cubs’ mother rejected them at birth, which is why they are at the rehab centre. They are in an enclosure that is surrounded by black and green netting, so that their exposure to humans is minimised as they are going to be released back into the wild when they are weaned. Feeding them was therefore a privilege for us lion lovers!