Paradise Camp Blog | Transfrontier Africa | Michael Scholl

Paradise Camp Blog

Black Rhino and Wild Dogs

Greetings from a strangely cold and blustery Paradise camp. 

Coupled with the peculiar weather other strange goings on have been noted, namely the fact that our land-rover hasn’t broken down for at least a month! I will keep my wits about me for surely something apocalyptic will happen soon. 

Never a dull moment here in our beautiful Balule, everyone has been excited by recent sightings of not one, but two black rhino in the reserve. Their origin is a mystery, it is almost as if they suddenly materialised from a portal. But they seem as if they are here to stay, they seem to have taken a shining to our habitat here which is perfect for black rhino.They are still quite nervous and spend a lot of time in secluded areas but often we see their tracks in the sand which resemble little UFO landing sites.

This week Craig 1 was returning home after a long day at the office. The sun was calling it a day and night was beginning to set in when out of the corner of his eye he spied the fluid form of three wild dogs weaving seamlessly through the bushlike shadows, in hot pursuit of an unfortunate male impala. We haven’t seen these beautiful creatures here for more than a year and a half. The next day we tracked them down and found them lazing in a river bed, lying contentedly with bellies that seemed to be stretching at the seams. We are very fortunate to have seen these beasts as they are highly endangered. (It is estimated that there are only about 200 in the entire Kruger Park). Watching them only seemed to solidify our purpose here; it would be a sad day if another one of these majestic creatures was never seen again.

We have been blessed with having three very special ladies in camp recently that enriched our time here on many different levels. Vivian from Liverpool is one of these who incidentally returned home to begin a new project which we formulated around the camp fire. She is the CEO of the soon to be NGO Pennies for Ellies which will help raise money for the elephants in the region which will provide radio collars to aid in tracking these behemoths, amongst other things. Incidentally Vivian sprained her ankle and had to wear a cyborgesque boot on her foot. Needless to say this didn’t aid her with walking and she provided the comic relief around camp by continuously falling over. We wish you a speedy recovery Viv. Shirley from Australia and Joke from The Netherlands were the other two lovely ladies whom with we enjoyed inspiring talks around the fire. We are grateful to these three ladies for their inspiration and their endless generosity. These ladies came like angels into our camp and sorted out all of our shortcomings. Thanks to Viv, Shirley and Joke again! Your legacy lives on in Paradise!

Eva the lunatic mongoose is keeping us in stitches and out of sleep. She had destroyed everything that isn’t made out of titanium. Craig and I watched a program on exorcisms the other day and we’re now convinced she is the physical incarnationof Beelzebub. Seriously. 

We are constantly refining our research techniques and have recently come up with some new exciting methods to approach our animal population dynamics. Balule is seething with elephant sightings at the moment and hardly a day goes by without seeing a group. We are glad to report that we have seen our second collared elephant in the reserve this week. We are lulled to sleep at night by the sounds of their stomachs grumbling. It is good to know that they are free to move between the reserves. The veld is still quite green and good grazing is still present and the dams still have a fair amount of water for this time of year so there is still quite a high incidence of general game. Our elephant damage to trees research is progressing well. We are excited to find our results are correlating with our hypothesis. The damage does seem to be more magnified along the roads and the effected trees seem to be healing well - evidence that proves the contrary to the accepted opinion that elephants are detrimental to their habitat. The trees have mechanisms in place to ensure they will not be destroyed by elephants. 

Incidentally its time for me to go andsurvey some more plots.

John- Research Assistant

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