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 Den 05.04.2016

A month full of friendly visits

Our camp welcomes everyone and everything, and it seems that the animals are realizing that as well! We are quite used to having all sorts of animals passing our camp, but lately we have been visited by the big 5 on a regular basis. The elephants that come often as well as the lions that have been hanging around our camp for the last couple of months are not new to us, but it was quite a surprise to see the rhinos come and say hello! A rare visit from an animal very dear to us! Shaya couldn’t believe is eyes seeing these big grey creatures staring at him, and I can imagine that the rhinos thought the same when they saw this strange 3 legged creature!

But we not only had 4-legged friends coming to visit us, but also some of the human kind. Long time partners to Transfrontier Africa and good friends, Director of Aalborg Zoo, Paw Gosmer and Kenneth Madsen came all the way from Denmark to visit us. Whilst driving up to camp they were already greeted by the elephants, what a great African welcome! And probably very memorable for Zoo keeper Kenneth, as these were his first wild elephants! The next couple of days they assisted us with our field work, but also included some manual labor as the elephants decided it was time again to have a go at our watertank! Paw and Kenneth also got the chance to join Lewyn to the Bushbaby schools and taught the children some things about their home country Denmark as well as the elephants they work with in their zoo and how the zoo works hard for the conservation of elephants. The children were very excited to learn more about all this! It was great seeing our friend from Aalborg Zoo again and we hope you had a great time back in Africa!

Besides our normal research and field work, March is also the month were we conduct our vegetation survey to determine the carrying capacity of the reserve. This means that we have standardized plots throughout the reserve that we visit every year around the same time. This way we can determine if there is a change in the vegetation and these different areas and what the impact is on how many animals and which species our reserve can carry. This is of course important if you have to manage a reserve. Our volunteers have spent many hours and many days in the heat conducting the field work. But despite the tough conditions working in the African sun they did a great job! And as a bonus working out in the field all day you never know what you will see. So as a bonus they have had a couple of amazing elephant sightings.

And of course our Black Mamba’s haven’t been sitting still either! The full moon patrols this month were very successful. As part of a joint operation The Black Mambas worked with Protrack Anti-Poaching Unit and the wardens of Balule we moved into areas adjacent to Balule. During this operation 3 arrests were made and 2 bush meat camps were destroyed! All snares produced by the poachers in the bush meat camps were found, taken and destroyed by the Black Mambas. A very successful cooperation between the Black Mambas, Protrack and the wardens of Balule, a big thanks to everyone involved! The rest of the full moon period was luckily a calm one with no incidents.

Also our Black Mamba Bush Baby education program continued throughout the school holidays. The children that live on the reserve get the chance throughout their holiday to come to our research house and follow fun classes and learn about the bush and the reserve they live in. This time the Bush Babies were invited to Sausage tree lodge to learn about the Sausage tree and the importance of it as a food source and biodiversity in our area. And as a surprise they got to meet a real bush baby!! Very exciting of course to meet and learn about the animal the project got its name from! The children also made a trip to the reptile center just outside Hoedspruit where they learned all about reptiles. A week filled with fun, creative games and learning a lot about nature. We enjoyed it a lot and we wish the children a lot of fun for the rest of their school holiday!

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