Category Archives: Bush Theatre

A Week of Appreciation in the Life of a Bhejane Student

There is something about the bush, the sound of the birds singing early in the morning, the branches breaking in the distance by elephants, the roar of the lion spreading through the mountains. Waking up in the cold winter morning staring ahead with your head peeping out the zip of your safari tent, overlooking the Mkuze River, having breakfast around a fire pit still warm from the night befores boma fire,feeling refreshed and ready for a full day of walking trails – This is how you start your day at Ebandla Camp.

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Working with Colin Patrick and his amazing K9 sidekick (Anne) is one of the best experiences, just by observing them work together, side by side and with a different insight! Trailing an animal gives you the courage to improve your skills. As soon as you find a fresh track, the hunt is on, bundu bashing through the bushes looking for any sign of the animal you are tracking in the sand, in the trees along the river banks – to find an animal you need to think like one!

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This is such an amazing experience because you can learn a lot about the animals behaviour, By asking things like ‘What type of food it eats?  Was it on its way to a specific location? or maybe just wondering around? by looking at the tracks you can see if the animal is relaxed and walking slow or on edge walking fast.

It is hard work and requires a lot of concentration, but the thrill of tracking a wild animal never ceases to excite me!

As the days go by tracking different animals and learning more about ourselves in the process just adding on to knowledge displayed all around us with every step we take. I remember how nervous I was for the assessment day -It was a perfect sunny morning, everyone was standing around the boma and you could just see the stress of test day show on their faces, but the we started walking and  I couldn’t help but to look at my surroundings and just seeing how beautiful nature really helped me to calm down.

We walked for a while before Colin stopped us and split us into two groups and briefed us on our task at hand – one group would walk for 15 minutes to get as far away as possible and hide away and the opposing group would have to track the hiders down! The assessment has begun. After 15 minutes one person was chosen to lead the track for the hiding group – As we tracked and trailed we finally found them and it was now our time to hide.

This process went on until everyone had a chance to track spreading this experience on for 2 days! Every moment as exciting and challenging as the next, when we were all done leading, Colin sat us down and the feedback process began.

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After meeting with each of us, we were all happy to hear how well the assessments went.

I was sitting outside enjoying the beautiful view that Ebandla camp has to offer and it just got me thinking of how amazing this week was, how wonderful it is to learn something new everyday and how amazing and thrilling it is to track an animal and become one and more connected with this beautiful country.

I could do this for the rest of my life.

 

By: Karla Swart (Advanced Course Student)

Whale out of Water by Laila Rouhani

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Waking up to the sound of the waves crashing, the wind rustling through the trees are the best sounds to wake up to.

This is the second year the Bhejane Nkonkoni group have been privileged to be assisting in the Mammal Research Institute with their whale monitoring in Cape Vidal. The aim of this research project is to track the Humpback Whales on their migratory paths from their cold feeding grounds in Antarctica to their breeding grounds up north in warmer tropical waters.

The walk to the whale watching towers definitely gets your heart pumping as it is a steep walk through dense forest, soft sand and torturous stairs. But all of that is worth it because once you get to the towers and see the most incredible view out over the sea through the canopy of the trees you forget about the walk up and how out of breath you are.

Stepping up into the towers and seeing the view is like seeing it for the first time every time no matter how many times you go up into the towers.

If you are doing the first shift of the day you have the pleasure of carrying up the theodolite to the towers which weighs about 10kg. You have to set up the tripod legs, mount the theodolite to the tripod and make it level. Once you have set all that up you are ready to track whales moving past.

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The main keys when spotting a whale are blows, breaching, fluking and lobtailing. If you spot anyone of these you pin point the whale in the cross hairs of the theodolite and call time. Once time has been called you read off the horizontal and vertical reading to the person scribing and they plot all that data down on a map. To make all the readings on that group more accurate we try to get five readings on each group with five-minute intervals between each reading before the group moves past.

On a clear day with perfect conditions you can see further than 15km out to sea. From that distance you can see these whales breaching out of the water with the naked eye. Sometimes if you are lucky, they will breach really close to the shore and that’s when you can see how big and strong, they are because they literally launch their whole body out of the water over and over again.

The best thing to do between shifts is to go down to the beach either to swim or to explore the shoreline.

One of the best memories I have from last years whale monitoring was seeing a mother and calf humpback whale swimming past the towers just beyond the breakers. This calf was still a new-born because it was so small and you could see that it was still testing out the waters.

As the last shift draws to an end it is time to start packing up the theodolite and all the data sheets from a bust day’s work. Before we head down, we take about five minutes to enjoy the sun getting ready to go down behind us over the dunes while enjoying the final view over the sea for the day.

Then it is time to face the stairs back down to where the bakkie is parked waiting to take us back home for the night only to start this all again tomorrow.

By Laila Rouhani

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Marli se laat aand leeu-loop.

Deur Marli van den Bergh

“Warwick dis tyd vir jou nagdiens…” breek Quintin se stem deur die koue. Met die ysige koue wat deur die loop van die aand in my tent in gekruip het, prober ek met ‘n swaar lyf uit my bed kom.

Die vuur het begin bedaar en ek besluit om nog hout te gaan haal sodat ek bietjie warm kan word.

Ek loop na die hout-hoop toe en kry my eerste lekker stuk hout, ek besluit om nog te kry wat ek langs die vuur kan op hoop vir later. Ek kry my tweede stuk hout en met die omdraai slag vang my flitslug twee gloeiende oë wat in die pad afgestap kom langs Graham en Robyn se huis… my liggaam word yskoud en ek voel die lewe uit my tap…

‘n Leeu wyfie, rustig en tyd-saam gaan staan so 15 m van my af weg.

Met ‘n benoude stem roep ek vir Graham oor die radio. Toe ek my weer kry is Graham langs my met sy .416 Remington… saam staan ons en kyk vir haar terwyl sy ons aanstaar met n swaar intensiteit en nuuskierigheid.  Na so 5 minute, wat vir my soos ure gevoel het, besluit sy om weer aan te gaan met haar nag mars en het weer in die skaduwee van die donkerte verdwyn.

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