Showing posts from September, 2011

Time flies

I have been travelling for nearly a month now and it feels like centuries ago that I was back in the UK living in the little village of Shepherdswell and looking after the cats.  It’s funny how when you travel time seems to fly, but when you’re back home it goes really slowly.  I guess it’s partly that I’ve been so busy here that I’ve not had a moment to rest and think.  I apologise to my friends everywhere about being crap at keeping in touch with you, but when you only have a few moments to use the internet each day, and most of that time is taken up by sending work emails, it becomes hard to find a spare minute to message people.  Please do email me though to let me know how you’re all getting on and I will try to find some time to reply!!

After watching the Ngamo pride for nearly 4 weeks now I am starting to learn all of the different personalities of the lions and their various quirks.  It’s amusing and fascinating watching AT1, the cub, develop in front of my eyes.  She seems to …

Vegans Love Protein

Kirsty the current researcher has now finished her time at ALERT, and with that, my trainer has left too.  I’m now the one and only lion researcher here at Antelope Park, which is a bit of a scary prospect!
Spent the morning with the pride (the cub seems to keep wandering off, which was a bit of a worry initially but I guess it means she’s growing up and becoming more independent), then midday with the breeding programme lions trying to measure pugmarks from some of the lions there.  This is easier said than done!  Getting a perfect footprint is hard at the best of times and depends a lot on the substrate, the way the animal walks through it and whether they walk back over it to smudge the original tracks.  It took over two hours to get just two individuals to walk over sand in such a way that we could measure their tracks today – what a pain!!  A lot of time was spent waiting around for the handlers to get the lions into their management pens so that we could go into their main enclos…

Sick of being sick

I am so sick of being worried about what people keep putting in my food.  The chefs have accidentally been putting animal fat into my meals and it is making me sick.  I've been getting really bad heartburn which is making it hard for me to sleep at night because my stomach just hurts.  I haven't had digestive problems since cutting dairy out of my diet and obviously my body is not used to all this animal fat that keeps on being thrown in.

What's more is that the chefs STILL don't seem to understand that vegans need protein.  They gave me one source of protein within the last few days (other than peanut butter which I put on ultra thick at breakfast as I'm never sure when else I can get any more) even after giving the chef a list of places I can get protein from.

Today I was meant to go to town for the first time since getting here 3 weeks ago so that I could finally go to a shop myself and stock up on essential food to keep me going.  But something happened in the…

First day off, woohoo!!

The lion researcher who is training me felt sorry for me being so ridiculously tired and exhausted so gave me a day off today - thank god, as I really was beginning to crack.  I had a sleep in, managed to catch up on loads of emails I've not had a chance to reply to, did some research for my PhD, had a chat with my Mum, did some bird watching (got some good pics of kingfishers, hoopoes, cormorants, a fish eagle and grey herons), went for an afternoon horse ride in the bush and then a mule-driven carriage ride at sunset.  Managed to see some good game, like tsessebe (with a tssesbok - a tsessebe crossed with a blesbok), wildebeest, impala, kudu, giraffe, warthogs, waterbuck and lots of vultures.

The current researcher and I went on a cub walk recently to measure the spoor of one of the cubs as we would like to know if you can ID individuals by their pugmarks, or at least tell the age and sex of the lion.  It was fun going out on the walk as one of the cubs decided it wanted to clim…

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

How long is an acceptable amount of time to work without a day off?
So far I have been on the go since 31 August working 12-14 hour days and am ABSOLUTELY SHATTERED.I am drained to the core, my muscles ache, my head aches, I can’t think straight and this isn’t helped by the fact that the old chef is back and seems to think that vegans do not need protein, even though I have told him countless times that I do require protein to function and have given him a list of where to get it from.It’s funny how the last chef had no problem in incorporating at least one source of protein into every meal, but this one doesn’t appear to get it – or if he does then he doesn’t care.I wonder how long you can survive without any protein.What’s worse is that I’m not able to get into town to buy my own food because I never have any time off.I am EXAHAUSTED and all I need is sleep but it seems everyone here works like troopers until either they turn sick because of exhaustion or somehow battle on through un…


Grumble grumble grumble.

I need sleep, a day off, some protein and some freedom.  These appear in short supply in Zimbabwe.

Pondering and pondering, what will the future hold....

Not sure what else I'm allowed to type in here.

Over and out.

Panthera leo

I have been at Antelope Park for a week now, although it seems like so much longer!  I've been going out on research drives three times a day and am starting to learn the IDs of the 9 lions (although it is taking me a while, especially the females that have twins!).  The lions haven't been doing a great deal because it is getting warm earlier now so for the most part they sleep - although I do know that they are meant to be inactive between 20-22 hours per day!  We have entered the research site once at night time and it was amazing to see the difference in their behaviour during the dark.  The lions are far more active, bold and even look larger in the moonlight.  At one point all the females surrounded the vehicle and were within a metre of it, and I'm sure they knew that there were people inside.  Thank god they didn't decide to jump in, because the cage on the back of the vehicle where I stand has a large enough hole in it for them to get inside!  It's not on m…


I have finally arrived at ALERT in Zimbabwe after a 14 hour journey from CCF to Harare and then a 4 hour bus ride from Harare to Gweru.  It may have been quicker to drive than fly as I ended up having to fly into Joburg and then out again, and was very worried about losing my luggage along the way as I know how bad Joburg is for that type of thing!  Fortunately my bag was there at the luggage area when I came through.  However, I did have to get through Customs first, which involved standing and waiting in a queue, only to be told I had to go to another one, and another one, then back to the second one and the first one again!  Eventually got given my visa (after a monsterous $70 charge – the most expensive visa you can get in Zim because I’m British!) and was met at the exit by a volunteer from ALERT who took me to the town house to stay for the night before my early departure on the bus the next day.  The house was very nice and I slept better than I have the entire time I was in Na…

I have arrived!

I finally made it to Namibia after a bit of a hectic journey.   First of all my train from Shepherdswell to Canterbury was cancelled and subsequent trains were massively delayed, so I had to phone a taxi to get me to my coach on time.  Then when I arrived in Windhoek I expected to be greeted by the taxi service I had booked to pick me up, but no one was there.  Fortunately a lovely lady called the taxi company for me (as my phone doesn't work here - stupid Tesco/O2) and got them to come out immediately.  Apparently they hadn't received confirmation that I definitely wanted the taxi, even though I had confirmed by email 3 days before and had got a reply from them saying all was fine...  So anyway they had to delay the bus waiting for me in the town centre by over an hour for me to get on it after being delayed by the taxi.  Very glad it was delayed, as the bus only goes once a day and otherwise I'd have been stranded in Windhoek!

Got to meet two other CCF volunteers on the …