I am convinced that there is a bizarre time warp here at Antelope Park. While it feels as if I have been here forever, it also feels like I have only just arrived. This last week is no exception to that rule.
I have been watching the days come and go with the breath taking sunrises and sets. Each time my heart breaks a little that another day has come and gone putting me closer to my departure date. I am not ready to leave here.
It has been quite the exciting week though! Our reserve management handles fire breaks, which is where they set a contained fire to burn a portion of the bush. Fires here in the dry season can be deadly, and spread without control. Fires also can’t burn what has already been burnt, so they set up an area to burn along the borders of the park in case a fire does happen, the reserve is safe from fire. Well, the one they did the other day was only supposed to be a small one, for there had been very little wind. Unfortunately, as always, mother nature is unpredictable. The winds picked up and changed direction, spreading the fire across the creek where they couldn’t reach in time to control it. Shit got crazy.
After feeding the cubs, Liz and I had been wandering around only to be told to jump in the truck as it was an emergency. We rolled up to flames out of control in the bush, we were handed big branches and started assisting in the fire fighting. Never take your firefighters in the first world for granted, what I would have given for a fire truck to help out! We were legit beating the fire out with branches, scorching our arm hair, and lucky to get out with eyebrows. I was in shorts and slippahs, not the greatest fire fighting clothing. It was tiring and painful, but damn was it exciting! Thankfully we got in all under control and with the help of a big group of us, we put it out. Only afters hours of fighting it, and being attacked by thorn bushes and stray embers.
I was also slightly molested by a bush baby! My supervisor has one at her house, and he finally came out the other night when Scott, Liz and I were over feeding the cubs. We sat down and let him come over to say hi. He was a little scared at first, but quickly warmed up and was very friendly. He kept climbing on our heads, feeling our faces with his little hands. His hands are a mixture of an old man, and a frog–quite the combination and odd feeling. He was uber soft and so sweet. At one point he had his fingers up my nose, then shoved in Liz’s mouth. An inquisitive little fella.
More exciting news is that one of our lionesses finally had her babies! Unfortunately I won’t be around to help raises these ones, but I was able to see them today and cubs that are only a couple days old are to
die for. I must say I feel extremely lucky that I have seen both cheetah and lion cubs at days old. I hope more people get the chance, if we all fight and help in the survival of these species. More people, for generations to come should have the opportunity to not only see, but work with these amazing creatures. Not just big cats, but all species of Earth. So many are near extinction, and it is terrible sad to think of kids growing up not knowing what these beautiful creatures look like in the wild. I don’t mean to preach, but if you find interest in the things I write about, and I’m doing, help out. Donate your time, spread awareness, or maybe help a local program that is working on conservation. Even small things such as a beach clean up–every little bit helps.
The P’s (Pendo and Pezulu) are growing up so fast! They are chowing down on minced meat and getting feisty over their bowls when the other tries to dig in. It’s adorable to see them act like proper lions now, not just balls of fluff who melt your heart. Of course they are still very capable of melting hearts, as they still do every time I see them.
Speaking of lions, I get to take a trip up to Victoria Falls on Friday to help transport two lions down to where we are! They are at our sister program, and have come of age to start hunting at night, and our facility is the one capable of handling that. So we get two 19 month old boys to help find tune their hunting abilities, letting them out in a few acres to run free and catch their own prey! It should be very exciting, AND I get to see one of the world’s 7 natural wonders! I am hoping I also have enough time there to do a bungee jump or gorge swing! Either way, I can’t wait! Seeing this country is going to be amazing! I love it here in my little bubble of Antelope Park, but I am ready to get out and see more of this beautiful country!
Besides all of this, days are days. Laughing and enjoying the people I am around, watching movies during the cold nights, and getting more progress on the behavior enrichment I am helping build for the big lions. We now have 9 new posts up for them to use at a scratching post, to put tires on as a toy, or whatever else we can manage to make with them. Tomorrow I am hoping to get at least two tire swings done in the enclosures. It is tiring work at times, but seeing these things come together that we have worked so hard planning, it really brings a great feeling to my heart.
As for now, I’m enjoying my half day just writing my the river and waiting for 14:00 to roll around so I can go feed my babies. Until next time!