But still we’re keeping time
We’re facing forward looking up
Forgetting what’s behind
Twende Afrika heyo! (Let’s go Africa heyo!)
Twende Twende song by Eric Wainaina
I was taken away by another EcoLife guide to go back to Pretoria for the next two nights. My friend, Rima, and I were to go to the US Consulate to get our new passports. After paying to get two sets of photos taken (the first weren’t the correct size) and waiting from opening until closing we had temporary passports in our hands.
We soon joined back up with the group at an elephant sanctuary. Here we learned how amazing elephants are and what they are capable of. These trained giants can respond to over 80 commands, including ones that help to find poachers. Elephants have a sense of smell that is 50 times better than a dog and they can follow a scent over water.
This makes them extremely valuable in tracking poachers, especially since you can ride them so you don’t have to worry about keeping up. Eventually we mounted them and went for a short ride around the ranch. We ended our tour of the project by discussing culling and how we could utilize the elephants to prevent overpopulation.
We retreated to the bus for an hour long bus ride to Sondela Nature Reserve. While Rima and I were in the city, the group relocated and settled camp. Sondela had animals that roamed the land: sheep, goat, kudu and horses. Every morning the kudu joined us for some breakfast and snacked on some of our bread and the horses would sniff at our tents at night. We were coming up to our last full day in South Africa and spent the morning at the Sondela Rehab Center. There, we bottle fed some of their young antelope and giraffe. We got a VIP tour of the facility and got to walk into some of the cages. A caracal was allowed weave between our legs and a zebra came to sniff our hands. The Sondela guide told us stories about hippos and rhino they have rehabbed and showed us where they were kept. In the afternoon we had a final essay about wildlife management where we had a case study to solve. That evening we had a catered dinner and a little graduation ceremony. We had a campfire that night and stayed up way too late. The next day we were all packed up and said our goodbyes at the OR Tambo Airport. A lot of things were left in South Africa, and a lot was also taken away from it. These three weeks seemed like forever, yet I was in New Jersey before I knew what happened. I want to go back and there is no doubt in my mind that I will. I want to work more closely with game capture and try to work beside a wildlife vet. My first goal is to land an internship at the Six Flags Safari Park since it’s just a tad bit closer and tad bit cheaper.
I would like to thank Monica Emery and Dean Young for this wonderful opportunity, without their help South Africa would have been hard to conquer.