How many ways you can use an oryx horn

I have now managed to catch five mice and rats in my (humane) mousetrap in my room.  The hole in my ceiling that the pesky rodents have been chewing up is about 10cm long and 4cm wide now, and it’s right above where I usually place my head on my bed.  Fortunately I have the choice of two beds in my room, so I decided to strategically move onto the other bed upon realising that some of the bloody rodents were peeing into the hole!!  Clever things if they have made themselves a makeshift toilet, but goddamn them for doing it above my pillow!  If you believe in divine retribution, a prime example of this may be the following story.  I usually give the mousetrap - complete with caught mouse in - it to the husbandry team, who take it out into the field and release it far away.  However, on Saturday I was going out to do road maintenance so I decided to take it out myself.  Alas, being the forgetful fool that I often am, I didn’t take it with me.  I only remembered once I got back and didn’t have the time to drive out to release it.  I decided I might as well just let it out outside the CCF Center and hope that it won’t find its way back to my house again.  I shook out the little mouse, who promptly dashed off in front of me.  Unfortunately for him, he was free for less than two seconds, when suddenly a hawk came down from out of nowhere, swooped it up in its talons, and made off with it as it screamed!!  You couldn’t even plan that shit!

We’re now in the height of the rainy season here, which makes for rather intense thunderstorms.  Not long ago we were sat in the common room watching a movie at night, when a massive storm passed over.  The eye of the storm must have been directly above our heads at one point, as lightning struck around the common room, lighting the darkness up, and the thunder was so loud that it shook the building.  I’m not usually scared of storms, but I have to admit that even I was pretty scary at that thunderclap!

With the rain often proceeds with rainbows shortly after.  We are privileged enough to often see double rainbows here, and last night was no exception.  Here’s a shot of the view from my back garden yesterday.  Quite beautiful!
Apparently this weather is prime golden orb mating season.  We have a huge 3D web in our garden with about 10 golden orbs on it.  They are such pretty and colourful animals, although I’m sure if I found one in my bed I wouldn’t be as impressed!
Being that it’s warmer now, all the snakes are coming out of hibernation.  Just last week one of the husbandry team saw a zebra spitting cobra next to the gift shop, and on that exact same day we spotted a variegated bush snake eating a whole gecko!  It was an amazing site to see, albeit a bit sad for the gecko as it kicked and wriggled about trying to free itself from the jaws of the snake.  At one point the snake was distracted, let go of the gecko for just a second; the gecko made a run for it, but was out of luck almost as soon as it found its freedom, as the snake came down on it so fast and grabbed its head again with its fangs.  A rather impressive spectacle!

Each year every one of the cheetahs here at CCF goes through an annual examination to check for the general health of the animal.  It’s a useful task to do to ensure that if there are any problems that they can be dealt with before they become too much of an issue.  We had one cheetah in for her work-up combined with some dental treatment that she needed.  Dental work is quite a specialised veterinary task to conduct, so we have a human dentist in town that comes down to help us out when required.  Sometimes we even take the cheetahs to the dentists!  I wonder what on earth the patients think when sitting in the waiting room, when they see a fully-grown cheetah wandering on through…  In any case, we spent most of the time in the work-up picking off a huge amount of ticks from the poor cheetah’s abdomen.  Being that it’s warm and wet currently, it’s great weather for ticks.  I felt itchy for a few hours afterwards, even though I thoroughly checked myself a few times after coming out of surgery to make sure I hadn’t picked up any unwanted guests!

Living out in the bush has its positive and negative aspects.  One of the biggest positives is that you are constantly surrounded by amazing wildlife all the time.  For instance, we currently have quite a number of stick insects in our house at the moment, like this wonderful specimen that looks like it’s playing an invisible piano!
However, one of the negative aspects is that you are living in the middle of nowhere, which means that your social life is somewhat limited.  We try to put on events every so often to let our hair down and enjoy time away from the seriousness of conservation.  On Friday night we decided to have a campfire at our house and invited all the volunteers, students and staff.  It was a really fun night and we toasted marshmallows on tree branches, melted chocolate in a saucepan with an oryx horn as a handle, made popcorn over the fire, dipped grapes in chocolate and stargazed.  It’s amazing how many more stars you can see out here without all the light pollution.  You can even see the Milky Way on a good night!


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