What’s that sound? Is it an elephant?

This morning we were woken up just before six. I think I am slowly getting used to these early mornings, but a ranger still had to come an knock on our door to wake us up. We then headed out anti-poaching at 6.30am, this time splitting into several different groups instead of stretching out in one long line. Our group didn’t find any, but one of the others found 4! I expect we found so many because we were close to the edge of the reserve, where presumably the poachers sneak in. However, we did find a skull. I managed to correctly identify an aardvark’s hole which I was happy about. I’m clearly starting to learn things whilst being out here. We also saw a baby porcupine’s footprints, but still no sign of the actual animal!

Porcupine. Image from: safarinow.com / South Africa Tourism

Whilst we were out this morning, we heard the breaking of some tree branches nearby and all stopped in our tracks. This is the telltale noise that elephants make, so we all quickly looked around for a tree to scale. It would just so happen that we were surrounded by horribly spiky acacia trees, which no one would want to climb. Luckily, after calling out we discovered it was one of the other groups making the noise. Phew! I would not have liked to encounter elephants in that spot.

Acacia trees can have pretty big spikes. Image from: bhamed.wordpress.com

Just after the ‘elephant incident’ we came up to the road and fence surrounding this side of the reserve. There were some rhino tracks in the road, showing that some had passed that way just this morning. Further along the road on the way back we did actually encounter very fresh elephant tracks. There had been some nearby after all! In true elephant style they had knocked a tree over into the road, but the guys managed to heave it out of the way.

Elephants eating an acacia tree they knocked down. Image from: Wikimedia Commons/ Derek Keats from Johannesburg, South Africa

After all the walking, I had a big breakfast then we headed out to the survival shelter to continue building up the walls with branches. We came back at 12pm for lunch, and I managed to grab my laundry. It smelled so good, especially after enduring the smell of sweat everyday. After lunch, a group of us headed out to do more road maintenance on the road up to Manyatta. We dug a pretty big hole for a pipe we don’t even know the size of yet. The hope is that it will help drain the water away from the road, as a puddle always forms there when it rains. When we had finished for the day we were given a lift back to Gazebo which was very welcome! Digging into the dry soil that forms the road is hard work. It really isn’t a great distance at all back to lodge, but on this day we didn’t mind.

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