Today we were all awake, eating breakfast, and on the move even before the sun was, but not without good and exciting cause. Our group was very lucky as we were able to participate in a rhino procedure at another reserve in the Eastern Cape. The procedure is carried out to try prevent poaching of these awesome animals just simply to get the horn, which is made up of hair.
We met up with the veterinary team, and were briefed on the procedure and the process, and we were each assigned various tasks that we could help with to get a once-in-a-lifetime hands-on experience. It wasn’t too long before we were on the move. We got to watch as the vet flew by in a helicopter to track, find, and dart the rhino, and we followed close behind in the game cruisers. Once the rhino was darted, the team moved in and everything got underway. The procedure included changing the VHF tracking collar, and collecting samples and parameters/vitals for research purposes. Getting to participate and help with this event was truly incredible, and an experience that none of us will ever forget. The day could easily be deemed one of the best of the trip, and it wasn’t even lunch time yet!
After the procedure, we had the opportunity to meet with Dr. William Fowlds. He spoke on the seriousness of careers with animals and the environment, the importance of loving your job and following your passions, as well as doing what you can to make positive impacts. The talk was both humbling and influential.
After lunch, we were given the afternoon to do further data collection and research for our individual projects. As we are coming to an end on our time at Amakhala, our research projects are also slowly coming together to be presented before we leave. Today, we’ve done everything from collecting information to rodent trapping to ungulate observations to analyzing camera trap photographs, depending on the project. Overall, it was a busy afternoon.
Later after dinner, we will be having our second fireside discussion, focusing on the socioeconomics of rhino poaching and conservation. The topic should be very interesting with broad ideas and opinions, especially after getting to be a part of such a special procedure this morning.
Signing off once again, Callie, Christine, and Ireland.