Crossing the Finish Line

The last week of filming started off with me trying to herd 183 cattle…. On horseback. So, in other words: totally casual.

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After my last horse experience, where I was thrown off and then dragged into water, I was feeling a little nervous. Thankfully, this horse was a DREAM in comparison and after a short while, I felt relaxed enough to even hold a conversation with the conservancy owner, who was riding next to me.

She was saying that the cows need to be herded into their ‘dipping stations’… meaning they need to be covered in a liquid that kills any ticks on them. I imagined this to be an elegant looking procedure where special rollers are placed on the cows as they stand perfectly still and miraculously know what to do. Ummm… not quite. It went more like this:

These cows walk toward a foul smelling corridor of water and then just JUMP off. I’m telling you: FLYING COWS! It is by far the funniest thing I have seen during my time here.

The cows weren’t the only ones who went for a swim that day. I later joined Murwi, the new anti poaching dog, who was going for a walk with her new handlers. Their mission was to get her to swim in the dam so that she gets used to the idea and doesn’t have a problem should they need to cross water whilst tracking poachers. The handlers told Reilly, the manager, to throw the ball 2-3 feet in at first.

Reilly: ‘Ye ye sure thing’

Handlers: ‘No but seriously Reilly, throw it only 3 feet in, otherwise she won’t go in the water’

Reilly: ‘Ye ye I got it’

*Reilly proceeds to throw ball into middle of dam*

And Murwi ain’t going in. *sigh* *face palm*

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We tried everything to get her in but the dog wasn’t having any of it. It was established that, since Reilly didn’t follow the rules, he should be the one to go in and rescue the ball. And it was only THEN that Murwi decided to jump in. Woohooo! #happydays

Since we’re so close to finishing the series, I knew it would be my last time walking with Murwi… unless I come back, that is! Cannot tell you how attached I have become to this amazing dog and how excited I am to find out what new talents she displays in the near future.

Another surprise was Nzhou: the elephant who is matriarch of a buffalo herd and wants nothing to do with fellow elephants in the conservancy. Ummmm…. what?! Nzhou came to the conservancy 30 odd years ago and is the oldest, most respected member there. She has attempted to kill people for trying to mess with her buffalo herd, but has also killed buffalo for hurting her human friends. #angermanagement

She sets the rules and is quick to decide whether she likes you or not (sometimes just by smelling your aura). And if she doesn’t dig you- you ain’t going very far. For some reason, she decided to like me and I will always thank the elephant Gods for this mega close and personal experience I had with Nzhou… because it could have gone very differently!

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I was also VERY fortunate to be able to see 5,000 year old cave paintings at a local chief burial site which is normally quite hard to access for tourists. The paintings themselves have a huge historical significance for the conservancy because discovering rhino drawings on the cave walls confirmed that they had previously lived there and that this would be the perfect habitat for them…. And that was the start of the massive rhino conservation project we see today. COOL or what!?

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Speaking of rhinos, it is rumoured that one or 2 of the females may be pregnant! eeeeeeeekkk!!!! A ridiculously exciting time for the conservancy, and who wouldn’t want more of these amazing creatures in the world?? Just LOOK at them. I can’t even:

On our last day, I went to the local high school which I have been raising money for on this page . Miraculously, through some generous donations and genuine interest in the project, enough funds were raised to buy EVERY SINGLE GIRL at the school (200 of them) a sanitary pack that will allow them to continue their education. LIFE-CHANGING stuff, to say the least!! They were so thankful that they made a whole ceremony out of it and it was one of the most special experiences during my whole 3 months here. Unforgettable moments. Video available here.

And totally unrelated…. A lot of people seem quite fascinated with the jewellery I’ve been wearing on the show. It’s all Patrick Mavros, the local silver specialist who does beaaaauuttiful unique animal inspired pieces and often styles the world’s royalty with them (no big deal). Needless to say, I have completely fallen in love with the stuff and own my own collection big enough to open a shop now!

 

Volunteer of the week

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Andrew has come from the US to volunteer for 2 weeks. He is studying to be a mechanical engineer and has volunteered at local parks and farms before, but never somewhere as far as Africa. Andrew’s family is originally Greek and apparently bares a strong resemblance to characters from ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’…. *gulp*! Andrew plays 5 instruments, excels at all kinds of sports, is good at drawing AND does stand-up comedy…phew! (not intimidated at all over here, btw). Andrew never takes himself too seriously and fits of laughter are pretty much guaranteed in his presence. He is keen to do more travelling after leaving Africa and next on the list is Thailand!

 

Hold up… is this IT!?!? Are we DONE??? Okkaaaaayyyy….. *breathe breathe breathe*… This went by WAY too fast (as usual) and I’m not sure I’m ready to leave. But this has in fact been our last week of filming, which means…. THAT’s A WRAP!

As per usual, I will keep everyone posted on developments of this project, so keep checking back for the good stuff xxxx


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