The Snake Saga

You may be wondering what the title of this blog refers to. It’s quite simple, really. It refers to a 4m long gigantic python the volunteers and managers had to capture and relocate from someone’s garden.

Say WHHAAAATTTTT???

I kid you not. 4 meters long, vicious, angry, strong and about to eat the dogs on the property had the volunteers and managers not got there on time. The snake experts took a while to capture it with a special tool (it did strike at the camera a few times in the process!) but then handled it like pros and shoved it into a big breathable bag, ready for relocation far, far away.

Reactions ranged from open mouthed fear, to enthusiastic helpers holding the tail, to snake obsessed volunteers stroking the thing (no joke). It is by far the biggest python anyone had seen in the area. A beast, really.

Funnily enough, that enormous thing was equally as dangerous as this teeeny tiny baby snouted cobra a volunteer almost stepped on:

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THANK GOD she saw it seconds before taking the step, because young cobras don’t know how to control their venom when they bite- so the situation would NOT have been pretty! In happier news, we also visited the local school to teach 2nd grade kids to read English. Giving back to the community here is SO SO important because they are the conservancy’s eyes and ears when it comes to poaching attempts, so building a relationship with them is vital… and not to mention, fun and rewarding!

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It’s funny to observe the children in class because even though the setting could not be more different to a European school, the characters are still the same: You’ve got the loud know-it-all, the shy kid who’s falling behind, the one who always gets distracted, the prankster, the bully etc etc. It’s also nice to know that the kids are genuinely happy. It may be hard to believe, but they’ve never known anything different, so this for them is the ideal norm. Some of them are already surprisingly good at reading English too, which is amazing to see… and I will hopefully stay long enough to help some others improve.

One thing these kids needed was a playground. Sooooo…….

We took it upon ourselves to build one. And off we went.

To chop down trees.

With an axe.

Using muscles I never had.

OH DEAR LAWWWWWWDDDDD!!!!!!!!

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One of the toughest physical experiences of ma life. Needless to say, I have never cut down anything before AND I have ZERO upper body strength. The combination of those two makes me quite literally the worst tree cutter alive. Some of the others had already cut down 2 trees whereas I wasn’t even half way through my first. #embarassing.

Result: It’s been 4 days and I still can’t feel my arms and hands. #evenmoreembarassing. 

The next task was to debark the trees, which I actually enjoyed and was GOOd at! *gasp*. It’s therapeutic and very satisfying in a strange way and I had a bit more fun with this task than I probably should have….

In a few weeks we’ll paint the wood and then put it all together (don’t ask how) into a playground that the kids will hopefully enjoy. It’s gonna be hard work, but I am so so excited to see the outcome.

Another (rather strange!) highlight for me was seeing this 1 month old adorable leopard tortoise on one of our drives. So cute:

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Afternoons here are also pretty special. We sometimes walk home with elephants, which feels quite surreal and I get to interview the handlers about the elephants’ stories, personalities and training routines.

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And some days, the sunsets just take your breath away:

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Volunteer of the Week

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This is Jason, from Boston. His story inspired me and so I wanted to share it with you. Jason used to be a prison warden, until one day, an angry inmate decided to stab him in the neck. Jason needed countless stitches, operations and procedures to fix the arteries and muscles that were falling out of his neck by the time he reached the hospital. Believe it or not, Jason really loved his job as it gave him the opportunity to help those who wanted to be helped. However, after the incident, he developed PTSD and was told he couldn’t go back to work. It’s been 9 years and Jason is still on medication and often has trouble sleeping. His positive attitude, love for travel and willingness to give back gets him through every day. In the future, Jason hopes to share all his experiences as a prison warden with the world- he says it’s hard to imagine what goes on behind those doors.

 

Next week: Anti Poaching training, Masimba the baby rhino, Shona evenings and getting close to goofy giraffes

 

 


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