Wednesday October 20, 2010 | Transfrontier Africa | Michael Scholl

Wednesday October 20, 2010

Dear Diary,

This morning I woke up at 7 a.m and I just had to wash my hair! Solange and I made our way to the shower and I stuck my head under the cold, refreshing water, which revived me. An hour or so later John came and told us that there was an batteler eagle that was hurt and that needed our help. We all got ready as quick as a flash, eager to be able to help and we jumped into the land rover with a cage for the eagle and we made our way towards the wounded animal. The ride again was peacefull and the fact that John had to hurry to get to the animal made him go really fast, which I loved since the wind in my hiar felt like heaven. We got there after 15 minutes and John immediatly ran to ask the people what happened. We stayed in the car waiting for him to come back and when he did, we could see that something had happened. This is what he told us: Sometimes when people talk on the talkie-walkie the correct info doesn’t always go through, because they don’t transmit very clearly. That is why he thought that Craig told him that he had to get a cage for batteler eagles, but instead of finding a wounded eagle, he found a wounded buffle. We would have needed a cage atleast 8 times bigger, if we wanted the buffle to fit in. The whole situation was quite funny but not for long. When we went to see the wounded animal, we all could notice the limp in one of his legs. We were all really curious to see how John was going to handle this and I was incredibly disapointed and surprised, when he told us he had to kill it. Why did  they have the right to kill him? They were supposed to protect the animal, not harm it even further! The injury had been caused by a wild animal and the buffle hadn’t had anything to drink for a few days so it was also dehydrated. I understand that they wanted to put the animal out of its suffering and I think that it was the best idea, but they had no right to do it though. They would be interfering with nature and to do that was not the ranger way. At the end I was convinced though, but some other people just couldn’t grasp the reason. They did bring up some good points though like, if the injury is caused naturally then we shouldn’t intrude into the cycle of life and also the fact that the buffle maybe wanted to keep on living even it’s for a short while, but I think that the buffle would have prefered to die then to have suffered, because who wants to die suffering?

So the buffle was shot and a lot of people went to take pictures, but I couldn’t. I hadn’t eaten that morning, but I think that if I had it wouldn’t have stayed in my stomach for long. It was atrocious to see this buffle killed and then how people came to look at whatt was happening. It’s true that seeing a dead buffle isn’t an everyday experience, but if I were to die I wouldn’t want people to take pictures of me. I think the buffle should have been covered just in respect for the animal. After that sad experience, we all stayed quite silent lost in our thoughts and while we were driving back to our camp place, the only thing I remember John saying is that before even the lions come out to eat the buffle, people who work nearby will come and cut of a piece of him and then eat it that same evening. I was astonished that people could even consider doing that. I have to admit that the people who work there don’t make a lot of salary and that they will jump on to any opportunity that gives them free food, but I just couldn’t get the idea of the poor buffle out of my head. 

While we were coming back from the killing site, we crossed the only girl ranger in the park, Amy. She told us that tomorrow the guests wouldn’t be there anymore and that we could come and use the pool tomorrow. We thanked her and then kept on driving to our campl settlement.

Now it’s the early afternoon and we are hiding from the cooking sun because if we go out now, we will have a high risk of burning and I really don’t want to go back home looking like a lobster. I am going to do my homework now Diary. I will talk to you later!

This afternoon we went on a ride again to track elephants and identify them. Before leaving Craig gave us an explanation about how to identify females and males, and how old they are, and if they have any battle scars, and more. After that introduction we left the camp site to look for elephants, but instead we found buffalos. Not just one, not two, not even 20 but over 50! There was all sizes, all ages and all types of them surrounding us. There were even a few babies and even though our plan was to follow elephants, this was a too big opportunity to give up. We even followed them when they walked away, and one moment Craig predicted that they would come down the other side of the hill and so that is where we went. When they finally showed up on the hill the sun was starting to go down, which gave us an amazing view. The rangers told us we were extremely lucky to have seen them in such a big group, and I have to say that I did feel lucky because we got to see this. John, one of the rangers, said he had never seen that many buffles, and he had lived here two years.

After having spend an hour or so with the buffles, we thought we should make our way back to the camp and what to we see on the way? Elephants. Of course, we were all very excited to try and identify the elephants and write it down on the sheet given, but we soon noticed that although we had memorized everything Craig had told us, to put those facts into practice was hard, see impossible. We couldn’t distinguish a male or a female, and seeing what age an elephant is is, for me, guess work.

We finaly did make our way back to camp and we started a fire to cook our food on again. It may look like I am repeating myself, but the food was delicious and I don’t how John, who is a vegetarian, can cook meat that well and then not eat it!

But a short while after eating, some bad news came. A baby cheetah had got stuck in an electric fence and every time it tried to get through to join his mother, the fence would shock him. The worst part has yet to come though: Craig had just gotten the call, but the person told him that tourists had been taking pictures of what was happening since already about an hour, meaning that the baby cheetah had been suffering for over an hour. How cruel can people be? For them entertainement is watching an animal suffer? How can’t they feel remorse or sorrow at the sight of a innocent little animal? I was shocked at this news, and I wasn’t the only one. Craig sent a guy to help the cheetah get out, but the information upset him so badly that he had a bit more rhum than usual, which made him say some interesting things. After that John went to help him get to bed because Craig needed sleep and John told us that tomorrow we were going to walk next to a fence that surrounds the park to check if the fence was broken anywhere. I am curious how that will work out.

Now I am sitting in my bunk, while the others are still outside. I have a feeling that they need less sleep then I do, because I probaly sleep the double of them. Maybe I should become a bear and hibernate? I am sure they need as much sleep as I do. Talking about sleep, I’m tired. Dear Diary thank you for listening to everything I have to say and talk to you tomorrow. Good night.

written by Diane Danneels (International Baccalaureate IB Class of 2012 student)

© / Michael Scholl Copyright 2012 for TransFrontier Africa and Craig Spencer