Sunday, 1 June 2014

Volunteer Update - Week 15

Week 15 volunteers: Amanda Keyte, Kirsten Rowlingson, Anne Schattenberg, Tanja Greter, Louise Mercer, Joel Schroeder, Vivien Mangin, Femke Spoor, Stephen Harvey, Sandi Simmons, Yvonne Wemmenhove and Sarita Vyas. 

"As far as a commute to work goes it doesn't get much better than this; standing in the back of the ute, you speed past mountain ranges shaped over centuries by wind and water with the Naukluft mountains standing high in the distance. Its impossible to not feel that surge of hope as you approach the trap cage, maybe this time the bait has worked. The road soon turns to red rocks as we cut across country to the cage, we hit the riverbed and start the slower walk through its sandy bottom; the chatter has now stopped, the anticipation bringing a breathless silence to the group. Batting back the flies we reach the first vantage point some fifty metres away from the cage to see if maybe this time we've succeeded. Alas, during our time here, the doors were always up, nothing had been trapped for collaring. But here you quickly learn that conservation is a game of patience. Mother nature has her own timetable.
While animal sightings maybe few and far between, when you see the evidence of wild animals it makes it that much more rewarding. The thrill of tracking Lightning the Leopard, realising that she's circling you, just out of sight is payment enough for the long hikes and the heat. 
At the Namib Carnivore Conservation Centre you are guarantied to see cheetahs. At the 500ha enclosure six cats are kept, unreleasable due to either being problem cats or too tame. These six ambassador cheetahs live a life as close to  the wild as can be provided. Pepper, a hand reared orphan, is the first to come for the meal we've prepared; stalking along the side of the car waiting for her side of horse. 
As she eats Kate fills us in on her history but she doesn't get to finish the story as Spartacus, the biggest of the six creeps up behind her, impatient for his meal.  After feeding the cats its time to feed ourselves and the famous apple pie lives up to its reputation, as does the Neuras Shiraz - chocolate, subtle spice and dark cherry flavours are perfectly complemented by the blue cheese and figs ordered back at the camp that night.

In all the food and wines are as much a highlight as the stunning scenery of the area. Rose tastes that much better when accompanied by a pink streaked sky during sundownwers on our final night."
Kirsten Rowlingson.

Stephen Harvey.

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