I’ve arrived on my next project with Bundocks Game Capture team. My first day with them I was taken to the darting team who’s task was to dehorn and microchip 3 adult white rhinos and 1 baby. The rhinos had already been caught and we just had to dart them for sedation to do the tests. Dehorning is government regulated so you have to send the horns in along with the microchip numbers and hair, skin and blood samples. The rhino is then loaded into a large crate so we can transfer it to another farm to be released. This is all done to protect the rhino from poachers. The poacher will gain nothing from shooting a rhino without a horn besides a wasted bullet. If the horn gets in the wrong hands in transfer, or if the horn on the rhino grows and is then found in someone else’s possession the poacher can be caught.
The next couple of days the darting team didn’t have anything lined up so we joined the mass capture team. Instead of darting they use nets and bomas. We caught Nyala, Impala and Zebras. A boma is a big structure that starts wide and gets narrower. It has curtains that get shut once the animals pass so that they can’t turn back. The end of the boma is a loading truck were the animals are organized and given injections. It’s really dangerous because the animals are confused and can run right at you. For some of the animals we climbed in trees so that we’d be more safe.
I’ve left Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center after 4 weeks and moved on to Hanchi. It’s a barn on a game reserve that tracks and monitors the game animals. Everyday we feed, muck and take care of the horses but we also spend about 5 hours in the saddle riding around the farm. We ride english so I hope Sara Linde-Patel has taught me all I need to know to successfully ride in the African bush! We’re responsible for monitoring the baby count in the roan and sable camps and making sure there aren’t hyenas inside their fences. I haven’t even been here a week and we’ve already tracked cheetah and buffalo! We were 20m way from a herd of Buffalo yesterday! The accommodations are a tent that I share with another girl. There’s literally only room for us to sleep. There’s also no electricity and very little cell service. It’s nice to disconnect for a while though.
We go on night drives through part of the property multiple times a week. I’ve seen a couple pretty rare animals. We saw a pangolin my first day here! Pangolins look like they’re wearing armor and the points are really sharp! We’ve also seen brown hyenas and an aardvark. That ball of light in the picture is the pangolin.
The past two days we’ve ran the cheetahs. This means that we take a cheetah in the back of a closed truck and pull a string attached to a lure up to the back of the truck to get the cheetah to chase it. When the lure is released the cheetah is let out and it runs to the other end of the dry lot. The fastest cheetah on record ran 65 mph. Bullet was running about 40 mph in 4.5 seconds. He didn’t have enough distance to get any faster. And since he lives in captivity he doesn’t run as fast and isn’t as fit since he doesn’t have to hunt for his own food.
We also ran Saturn who is only a year and is just learning how to be ran. He’s afraid of the box with the lure in it so he always runs off before the end.