We pick up the story of the Zookeeper from Wisconsin; Amy returns from her break-week, now back at camp with Limpopo Field Guiding Academy – things are a little different, old friends have departed, new faces abound – what does Week 5 have in store for our intrepid adventurer?
Week 5: Upon arriving back at camp for phase two after an incredible break, we were welcomed back by buffalo in the river by our tents along with a chorus of hippos and jackals that night. We met the new group of students from South Africa who are now accompanying us on our journey for their phase one course.
Our lectures this week were on ecology, fish, arthropods and amphibians. We continued using this knowledge from our lectures out in the field. Our first game drive was nothing short of spectacular. We found a small ovular hole belonging to a scorpion that we learned about in class as well as a baboon spider ground nest belonging to the suborder Mygalomorphs.
Then a lioness walked slowly by our vehicle so close you could touch her. As she walked by she stared into each of our eyes before drinking from a puddle, playing with another lioness and rolling around in the grass. Never have I felt more alive than in that moment. The following day on our game drive, we didn’t see the buffalo right away until he quickly lifted his head up from the grass a few meters away. He stared at us long and hard as we remained still and quiet before he continued eating with the male along side of him.
We continued to find tracks from toads to grasshoppers to mammals. That night two sets of eyes watched me as I made my way to my tent. They belonged to two hippos who I would have missed had they not made a disturbance in the water. We continued learning how to navigate and what to do if you get lost including following the sun, stars, direction of termite mounds, which side the lichen is growing on the trees… We learned which plants to eat such as the fruits from the brandy bush and gum from a sweet thorn as well as those you should avoid such as fruits that are tomato or cucumber shaped. We found a devil’s thorn flower and washed our hands with the leaves.
The bush provides everything you need: adventure, beauty and life. This week we lost power and water and had to collect water from the rain and river. It’s not until you run out of water that you appreciate how fortunate you are to have it. It’s not until you run out of time that you wonder what more you could have done with it.
Everything in nature is connected and plays an important role. Without one species we wouldn’t have another. If we don’t protect and conserve our environment now WE will no longer exist. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery but today is a gift. What will you do with yours?
Stay tuned for the next chapter in Amy’s student diary. Week 6 promises to be challenging with FGASA exams coming up and the final two weeks of practical preparation looming. Experience it all through Amy’s eyes.