I found a donga (the bank of a gully) along the way, which I jumped over and stood on the other side. I was confident that even if this were a super athletic hippo, the Michael Jordan of hippos, it would take him a month to jump across that part of the donga. “This would buy me time to get into AWF’s research vehicle,” I thought. Indeed, when the hippo finally caught up with me, there was a donga separating us. I think that donga saved my life because all the big trees where in Kaizer’s direction and there was no way I could out sprint a charging hippo to get to them.
During the month of August in 2010, after our CEO had visited and left, but before the Corne family visited, Kaizer and I were out looking for the best sites to place cameras when we came across a puddle of water in a dry river bed. It really looked like a puddle and Kaizer and I stood in front of it and discussed the best direction to go to set a camera station. Suddenly there was whirl wind, which came in our direction and went right over the puddle.
A few days after Dr. Patrick Bergin had left, Kaizer and I continued collecting cameras. In between all that, I had the privilege to join Stephen Midzi, the section ranger from Vlakteplaas (the section where we had placed the cameras) to go and look for tusks of an elephant that probably died a while back and was spotted by someone flying over the area. We went to the area and searched for some time until one of the guys found one humongous tusk, probably 188 centimetres long. I waited for everyone to examine it and then tried to pick it up.
When Dr. Simon Munthali called to tell me that our CEO, Dr. Patrick Bergin, was planning to come to the field to spend a few days, I couldn’t believe my ears. My brain immediately went berserk. I started counting stock of the good things and the not so good things I may have been involved with during the last few months. I was startled by these sudden plans to host our CEO. Many times when my superiors wanted to see me, I was in some kind of trouble, but that was back in high school.
During the World Cup I had the pleasure to spend time with Christina van Winkle from our offices in Washington D.C. and her friend Mike. We met for the first time that morning in Nelspruit and then drove in tandem to Paul Kruger gate en route to Singita Kruger National Park. I had a great time with them, and in the process, we managed to discuss the project’s objectives. Besides discussing the project, we went to visit a few camera stations, replace SD cards, and to see if the batteries needed to be recharged.
Here is an account of Christina’s visit: