Final days at CCF
My final days at CCF were both sad and happy; sad because I was saying goodbye to a lot of friends (some human, some furry, some a bit of both), sad because I was also saying goodbye to my whole life that I’d led for the last year in Africa, complete with everything that came with it; but happy to be going back to old friends and the stability of being back in the UK (and not having to worry about what animal might try to kill me and what my medical bill will be!). Plus, I do admit that I was pretty excited to be going back to a country that serves both Dr Pepper and Starbucks in most towns!
On one of the last days at CCF I went out to collect some camera traps from the waterholes that were counted during the annual waterhole survey. When driving along the airstrip, we came across a family of ostriches (complete with mum, dad, older daughter and 11 newborn chicks!). It was very cute to see them and we tried to snap a few pics of them as they walked away from us down the airstrip. We then got back in the car to continue our journey, but birds being bird-brained, they’re not the most intelligent creatures on earth and decided to traverse through the landscape using the road that we were trying to drive along. They were our stalemate for about 10 mins, slowly jogging in front of the car and not getting out of the way. Finally, being that we were pressed for time, we tried to get them out of the way by driving up close to them to urge them to move either side of the road. This worked, although we later realised that we must have scared one chick, who had instinctually laid down in the bushes with its whole head and neck against the floor to camouflage itself (newborn chicks are the colour of dry grass so this technique works really well). I felt very guilty about splitting a family up, so decided to rescue the poor chick and take it back to its mum and dad, who had trotted off down the road in front of us. The thought did cross my mind that this little bird might try to peck the hell out of me when picking it up, but fortunately it didn’t; in fact, it just sat their in my hands as I ran down the road in a comical fashion towards its rightful parents. I let it go and off it went towards its mum and dad. A job well done.
Running with the ostrich chick to its parents
Earlier on in the day, we were extremely surprised to come across a rare, illusive and usually nocturnal animal: a caracal! These are small, tawny-red cats with short tails and long fluffy ears, a bit like a lynx. They are hardly ever seen because they are very shy around humans and normally only awake once it gets dark, but this one strolled across the road in front of us in the middle of the day! A very peculiar but otherwise absolutely fantastic sighting! This is one of the things that I shall sorely miss about Africa: all the wonderful and unexpected wildlife sightings you have the opportunity of seeing.
A female kudu jumping over a fence during our drive to collect camera traps
It was bittersweet leaving CCF after over 9 months of living there and putting my heart and soul into that place. I have had a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience there and I will never forget it, but I felt like it was time to move on to other things. I’m now back in Canterbury and although I had a bit of a reverse culture shock coming back, I now feel very settled. It’s lovely to be living in a real home again (complete with two adorable dogs!) and be able to cook, socialise, or do whatever I want when I want! Ahhh freedom, how I’ve missed thee!
With Laurie, Suzie, Tigerlily and Senay in the big field after a cheetah run
I shall be updating this blog a bit more in the next week or two with tales of my travels across southern Africa on the overland truck tour, so stay tuned!