The Students at Cornwall College recently returned from their trip to the Shamwari Conservation Experience – Have a scroll down to see what they got up to!
A big thank you to Angus Jackson who provided us with these amazing photos!
Forget Tuesday – it’s GlenDay!
Rory, Ashleigh & Bex
After a hefty 28 hours of travel we woke up feeling revitalised and refreshed. Stepping out onto our porch we had the perfect view of the sunrise and our dawn chorus was a little different from home, as in the distance we could hear the roaring of lions and the sound of an ibis overhead.
We started our morning off clearing roadways of bushes and thorns. Everyone grabbed a machete and hopped to the nearest bush. Rory took to this task a little too enthusiastically, terrifying everyone around him. As we were grafting hard a mummy warthog and her 3 piglets came to say hello!
After working hard (or hardly working #Vicky), we had a cracking pumpkin soup for lunch with homemade bread.
Then we spent the afternoon with the best man ever, Glen Vena at the Born Free Big Cat Rescue and Education Centre, but let us start at the beginning! On our way to the centre we spotted two white rhinos in the distance. Upon arrival we met the amazing Glen, who took us on a behind the scenes tour of the rescue centre which was funded by the family of Julie Ward who was murdered in Kenya in 1988, and now partially funded by Shamwari Game Reserve. Glen showed us the variety of big cats including some severely damaged lions and leopards which came from harsh backgrounds. You go Glen Co Co (from “Mean Girls”!).
After our amazing time with Glen and the cats we went for a drive on the reserve and saw a variety of animals including, but not limited to, zebra, giraffe, waterbuck, kudu and a variety of bird species. We really enjoyed our first real chance to see some wild animals but by this point we were all pretty hungry so swiftly headed back for some supper.
To end our day we decided to build a campfire. Arming ourselves with a penknife and lighter, Rory and Ashleigh set to work. Whilst Rory stripped some logs to make kindling, Ashleigh tried to set fire to everything in sight! During this process, Rory managed to slice his finger open, which traumatised Bex – eventful to say the least! The whole effort did result in a fire, surprisingly, along with a good old chinwag for the group at the end of the day.
A great first day, with us all looking forward to another early morning, kick starting our day with coffee and some community work and hopefully finishing off with some predator monitoring.
Thursday 18th June
Riley & Jessica
We were woken this morning to the sound of birds calling from the trees surrounding our camp. It was cold as ice (did you sing that?!) as we walked down to breakfast.
The morning consisted of collecting rocks from the hillside to repair the roads that were damaged from the rain the day before. We then drove to the area of concentration (after we had recovered one vehicle from the mud) we then made a start on emptying the water most of which went over Rebecca’s head thanks to Vicky! Once the water was removed we started placing the rocks to form a level surface (cue Vicky dropping these rocks from a height and covering numerous people with mud).
Once the road was repaired we headed back and had lunch. In the afternoon we went Elephant and Rhino monitoring, the whole group was so excited as we had only seen these animals in zoos and never in their natural habitat. We were incredibly luckily and found a group of male white rhinos – they were right at the side of our vehicles as we identified them from the notches in their ears.
We then drove on to find the M herd of elephants, their size and grace took us all by awe as they grazed among the shrubs, just as we were about to head back another group approached us, and as they came within touching distance to the vehicle everyone fell silent. As we made our way back to the education centre we stumbled across a female white rhino and her calf, to then move on to a group of giraffes including three youngsters. We topped of our amazing day by watching an old African movie, The Gods Must Be Crazy.
In summary today has been amazing.
Friday 19th June
Izzy, Ashleigh, Bex and Rory
At the crack of dawn right on time, the ibis awoke us with its alarm call cry, followed by Rory’s equally ear piercing imitation. The lions followed suit with their echoing roar in the distance, this was to be another good day.
After 1st breakfast we made our way to 2nd breakfast. From what we saw we were right, it was definitely another good day, it was a sterling breakfast!
Our morning started with a trip to the local community to help brighten up their playground. Just like the springbok, the national animal of South Africa, the children at the school leapt at our vehicle. Whilst Ashleigh and Bex worked on their contribution to help inspire the kids to love animals with depictions of footprints and snakes, Rory took an educational stance by painting the alphabet and numbers. Whilst everyone was working hard, Vicky was hardly working (as usual).
After lunch we spent the next 2 hours searching for what became an elusive leopard. Finally our great lass Charlotte spotted the beautiful creature in the distance, and so the real chase began. We raced to her location but our hearts sank when she was nowhere to be found. We raced around the corner to find the leopard – BOOM! We’ve seen a wild leopard. Bex nearly cried with happiness, Rory nearly threw up from excitement, or was it the other way around?
Heading home we decided to turn around and look for 2 cheetahs which we heard on the radio were in the area. As we approached we saw the 2 of them catching the rays near a tree. The carefree cheetahs were unfazed by our presence. Our second attempt to get home came to a halt with the presence of a lion pride on the road, which were blissfully unaware as we slowly drove past them. The day began with the sound of lions and ended being face to face with the King of Shamwari.
Saturday 20th June
Shannon, Becky, Lowri & Nathan
This morning was a brisk and early wake up call, as we walked across to the jeep we came across a kudu bull that was injured. We then drove in the jeep that was absolutely freezing but luckily our next form of transportation was a warm people carrier but it was extremely cramped. After our long drive we arrived at our elephant back safari, we clambered aboard the elephants in pairs except Angus who looked like Bear Grylls leaping on top of the elephant in one stride.
We were clinging on for dear life for half an hour whilst chatting with the handlers. Shannon and Becky had the misfortune of having a flirtatious forty year-old man chatting them up. After the elephant ride which left all of us a little bit sore from having a legs so wide apart, we fed the elephant we rode that day through the mouth and the trunk. The trip then took us to lunch where we were reunited with some of our British delicacies like CHIPS!!
We then went to a wildlife centre that had a variety of reptiles and birds in a variety of different accommodations. We followed that with another rehab centre that was based around big cats, we came up close and personal with a wide range of cats especially the cheetah that was in touching distance. Lowri got to a little closer than the rest of us with the cheetah by playing with her legs!
We arrived at a luxurious B&B in the middle of the African orange orchards, where we were supplied with a three course meal which tantalised the taste buds, especially as we all dared each other to try the Tabasco sauce which left us all in tears! It was finished by a cakey phenomenon.
We then retreated to our rooms to use the wifi in order to upload our amazing photos and hopped in to our cosy beds! ?
Sunday 21st June
Jess & Riley
We were softy woken up by the lyrical talent OMI and his song Cheerleader.
Breakfast was something we will never forget, the piping hot pancakes which where drizzled in syrup tantalised our tastebuds, this sugary overload was to prepare us for the adventure that today withheld.
After catching a cheeky wifi sesh we all piled into the passion wagon and headed to criss cross head quarters, where all of our bank accounts became slightly lighter. From here we traveled to the riverside where we embarked on a river expedition. Throughout our very own Bear Grylls (Angus) was pointing out the various wildlife that Africa has to offer. The calm journey soon became a competitive race between the three student canoes, Lowri and Shannon holding the lead as they shouted abuse at the followers. All of a sudden the passage ways became tighter and a pile up soon commenced as we all tried to take the lead, just like a real life Mario Karts on water. On our break we took to higher grounds as Steven our tour guide explained the uses of native plants, those we can eat and those which hold practical purpose. When taking back to the river, Riley and Jess took the lead, although we did get a bit ahead of ourselves as we suddenly came to a harsh drop and rushing waters we franticly paddled, hoping to get to safety, praying that we wouldn’t go any further, our rescuers arrived in the form of Nathan, Becky, Angus and Steven, the two canoes turned us around and pushed us back up stream. Once on dry land we had the chance to swim in the river, Angus jumped at the chance and in a form that Tom Daley would be proud of, jumped in and was doing lengths. Meanwhile Nathan, Jess and Riley where questioning as to whether we should go in as it would risk ruining our hair. As we pumped ourselves up, we finally took the plunge, it was freezing to say the least.
After having some more British Cuisine we arrived back at Shamwari, and reunited with our little family. We caught up around the campfire as we told our weekend tales, and our new recent eye candy addition, Vicky admitted that she was attracted to fat nerds. Well on that note until next time.
Monday 22nd June
Shannon, Becky, Lowri & Nathan
We woke up to the sound of Rory trying to imitate birds at a most inhumane time. We stumbled out of our tents and onto the trucks, which took us to the local preschools in Paterson. We divvied out the stationary and various gifts to the children and they were very appreciative.
At one school they got very excited at the site of Rory blowing bubbles and they ran around hugging us in excitement. Nathan fell over from the sheer number of children that latched onto his feet. We all had a chat in the trucks and we decided to give food to one of the local preschools purchasing it with our own money.
After giving the food to the children we headed back to a lunch that could only be described as an inferno in your mouth. After lunch we had a car wash competition, clearly the winners were Chanel’s team. We took a trip to the rehab centre where we saw a wide range of wildlife from a baby zebra called Zeus to a poached white rhino called Hope.
Chanel then told us that we had the afternoon off to relax before our night patrol. Nathan and Lowri decided to play volleyball but this then turned into a fierce competition between Nathan, Rory and Vicky vs Shannon, Lowri and Angus. The overall result was a draw.
The time came for the night patrol we all looked fab dressed in about 30 layers of clothes a hot water bottle and a sleeping bag. Vicky was armed with a torch to spot any animals that were out and about on the reserve at night. We spotted zebra, bat eared foxes, impala and at last we saw the hippos, woop!! After a couple of hours and 17 species later it was time to head back to base and slither into bed.
Tuesday the 23rd
Jess & Riley
After ignoring 2 different alarms and Angus calling our 5 minute warning, we decided it was time to get out of our warm beds and get ready. Due to our lateness, we skipped breakfast once again and made our way to the vehicles to embark on today’s adventure.
This morning consisted of road maintenance, as we stopped to collect rocks, the competition between Lowri and Rory began, of who could collect the largest rock, this continued until the trailer was full and we made our way to the area of concentration. Like last time we split up into teams, those who removed water from ditches and those who removed the rocks, with us two being on the water removing committee, unfortunately the mud surrounding the ditches was slippery and we in Olympian Ice skater style worked our way around the mud and emptied the ditches. All was well until Jess threw a bucket of water over herself instead of into the hedge. As the water shallowed we realised that elephants had been walking through, therefore making the ditches deeper, this also allowed us to understand as to why the water smelt so bad, Vicky also tasted the water and exclaimed that it also tasted like elephant poo. We then went on to make a chain of rocks, with Angus being the muscle man and cementing them into the mud.
After a lunch of mashed potato and vegetables we made our way back onto the vehicles to commence the big cat monitoring. We made our way up the mountains, to find a freshly killed giraffe carcass, this gave the clue that lions where nearby, as we made our way around the corner. Everyone gasped as we had come across two female lions both lounging in the sun all of us took in their beauty, but nothing prepared us for what was to come. One of the lionesses walked around the vehicle and plonked herself at the back, as she took to sunning herself we all took many photographs, never had we imagined being this close.
Leaving the lions, Chanel turned on the transmitter to try and find the two cheetah brothers, who hadn’t been seen in a couple of days, a slight wave was picked up and so the search took place, after stopping and staring numerous times, and without any luck it was time to head back to camp.
It was our turn to start the bonfire and with Jess setting her hair alight on birthday candles prior to the visit and Riley only going to scouts once, we knew it was going to be somewhat eventful. With out fire lighters and matches at the ready we started to sing fire starter. To our shear amazement we actually started a fire (with Nathan’s help) to only put it out by putting another log on top. After the coughing and spluttering from the smoke died down, Nathan redeemed himself and managed to re light our fire (did you sing that?).
After another amazing day it’s time for bed, until next time.