Following on from last week’s post on things you’d never expect to say on a Game Reserve (Click here if you missed it), we’ve continued the trend with a part two! If you’re interested in heading out on one of our projects to experience some of the quirkiness of life on a Game Reserve, contact us today for more information!

‘How close should I throw this zebra carcass to the lion?’

I can confirm we were not launching meat at the Lions on the reserve, rather feeding the big cats at the Born Free Sanctuary. The sanctuary offers refuge for malnourished and mistreated big cats from around the globe, dealing in political affairs to rescue cats from unfavourable conditions and offer them a life closest to the one they may have lived in the wild. Although these cats will never be released into the wild due to their inability to hunt for various reasons including malnourishment and improper development, it was amazing to gain insight into the diplomacy involved in rescuing the cats. The sanctuary currently has a few lions from Romania, kept as show-pets in shops and homes. These were rescued when Romania joined the EU in 2007, making the ownership of exotic animals illegal. We were able to get our hands dirty cleaning some of the enclosures and feeding the cats, whilst getting an understanding for the operations of the organisation.

‘Which elephant does that baby belong to? None on the records have 4 ear notches…’

Due to the potential risks of having such ecologically transformative animals as elephants on the reserve its vital that an identification system is put in place. When numbers of elephants become too high and individuals require relocation to alternative reserves, its so important to have an understanding of the role each individual plays in the social hierarchy and familial arrangement of the herd. As the term ‘keystone species’ is often used in ecology, ‘keystone individuals’ is appropriate to use in the context of elephant herds, and the removal of such ‘keystone individuals’ could cause great upset in the herd and lead to unnecessary aggression. It is thus vital that elephants can be identified and paired to mothers, as well as to track genetic lineages on the reserve.

‘How much Jack Daniels can I pour on this steak before the braii fire goes out?’

An evening on the conservation experience can be no better spent than sitting by the campfire, trying not to ignite a delicious steak over an open flame. Although we ambitiously bought alcohol for the entire week on Friday, which was gone by Saturday morning, a cold beer after a day on the reserve tastes that little bit better with a burger by the campfire. This isn’t the kind of campfire that attracts the ‘spiritually enlightened’, guitar wielding morons of some UK suburb, rather down to earth people with the common goal and interest of conservation. I met some truly unforgettable people in my time at Shamwari, and I will definitely be making a point to meet with them where possible in the future.

‘I went running with a Nyala this morning…then she pooed by the ping pong table.’

Possibly the oddest thing at the base of the conservation experience is finding yourself not batting an eyelid when a Nyala antelope pops in to the breakfast room to say hello. The resident Nyala, Miracle, first laid eyes on humans before she did her own species due to the sickness of her mother when she was giving birth. Because of this, she has become totally habituated with humans and is currently in a mid life identity crisis where she may be starting to realize she has hooves and four legs. In perhaps an attempt to come to grips with her true antelope nature and defiance of all that is ‘potty training’ she has recently taken to ‘marking her territory’ by the ping pong table.