Part 1: Rhino Tagging in Africa


There’s been a lot going on lately but it definitely has not been boring. I was fortunate to be asked to join the Castle Lager Boucher Legacy Experience a month ago. It’s a great initiative (and I swear I’m not just saying that or was I paid to say that) and I’m glad I had the opportunity to participate in the experience.

We started out the weekend with a flight out to nowhere… I think there may literally have been only be one flight a day and only space for one plane at any given time.

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With just under an hour of flight time, we soon reached the desolated runway. We basically stepped off the plane and into a game vehicle. Slightly dramatic? Yes! Yes it is… We actually had to walk off the runway and to the combi. From there, we drove another 45 minutes to reach the lodge where we were met by mimosas and fresh towels. Mimosas in winter! Because 32 degree heat is an excuse worth drinking for!

After checking into a 5-star tent (looks a whole better than it sounds) we all met up for a light lunch before setting out on a late afternoon game drive.

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In an effort to cross the river, the game vehicle ahead of us took three attempts to ramp up the embankment. This caused a series of laughter and intrigue by us… until of course it was our turn to beat the three attempt record with a just a single go. Needless to say this failed exponentially. We landed up getting stuck in the river and calling for help. Not one of our finest moments but it was definitely worth the wait.

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Once we had been towed out the river we drove passed the most beautiful forest, which is unheard of in the bushveld in the first place. It was like walking into Avatar. I kept looking out for blue men the size of 200 year-old trees. Not long after passing this green utopia, we found ourselves next to a herd of elephant but soon after that we were wedged between them on the dirt road. A disgruntled cow was not happy with us and started flapping her ears in frustration. Ear flapping turned into a full on charge. I wasn’t too impressed as she was headed straight for me at the back of the Landy. After all that excitement we headed back to the lodge to freshen up and meet the ‘Rhinos in Hand’ rangers at the bonfire buffet. I’ve been on many vacations in the bushveld and so it was nothing new to me but anyone in Africa that tells you they get over it is lying. It’s always a great getaway from the fast-pace of Jo’burg city living.

The evening was prompted by a bonfire and great conversation. The rangers that were on the trip with us and there on behalf of Mark Boucher’s ‘Rhinos in Hand’ conservation project took us through the background of the initiative and delved into the gritty conversation about how the rhino are desperate need of a solution, not just locally but globally. After we all got caught up to speed on how the day was planned, we faded into our tents and prepared for an adventurously challenging early start for the next morning.

4a.m wake-up calls on a Sunday morning is not for the faint hearted. Especially sitting on the back of a Landy at zero degree temperatures and taking into consideration the wind-chill factor. The only thing in my head at that stage was “You’re cold as ice, willing to sacrifice…” Damn straight! Sacrificed my Sunday sleep-in, my warmth, my health AND my sanity!

[To be continued…]

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