Some “Geezer” made me write something so here’s my take on EHRA. In this modern day and age we all live such fast paced non-stop lives surrounded by social media and an electronic buzz. Too often find I find we take things for granted and very easily forget our natural roots. EHRA is the perfect place for human kind to return to his natural environment. There is something so special about seeing a wild animal in its natural habitat. No fences or glass or screens between you and it, just absolute faith in your guides. The sense of what one feels when seeing these desert elephants up close is hard to describe. What I can say is that EHRA as an organization gives you a release from the hype of modern day society and really step back to a time when man and nature live side by side and for that I will forever be grateful.
I never thought base camp would feel luxurious, but after a week on patrol it almost feels like home. No, in all honesty patrol week was one of the best weeks I have ever experienced. We travelled for nearly all day on the first day without seems anything and I was beginning to feel that this was all a hoax and someone had some fun with a frying pan to create footprints. But not too long after lunch we ran into my first ever elephant, grazing in the riverbank. He was soon joined by the rest of Mamma Afrika’s herd including 2 calves.
Everyone can easily visualize an elephant and has seen them on T.V regularly, but nothing compares to seeing them for real. Their great size is so impressive and reminds you that not too long ago they would have set snuggly into a landscape of mega fauna. Just seeing their skin wrinkle and crack as their huge muscles heave their mighty bulk from pace to pace is mesmerising. I loved watching them manoeuvre their trunks so intricately to eat branches even though they could just trample down a whole tree for no reason, it seemed. Their trunks seem so much more useful than an arm or hand as these are so many more combinations of movements.
When you looked into their eyes you knew someone was home, analyzing you in return. It was endearing watching them interact with each other. On the second day one of the younger males mock charged the truck and a female next to him put her trunk across him as if to reassure him or tell him not to do it again. I am looking forward to another week of observation so I can see more behaviour.
After we had seen all the elephants we went into rhino and giraffe territory in hope of seeing one. After a whole day of teasing footprints but no animals I lost hope of seeing anything, particularly when we woke up to heavy fog. Miraculously after only a few minutes we saw a giraffe and her baby. I was so happy to see them. In fact I enjoyed watching them as much as the elephants. I was content with this sighting and as I settled into another few hours of no animals, 2 more giraffes walked past us! I could not believe how lucky we were to see 4 giraffes when Rob shouted – Rhino! – No Way! We jumped out and walked over the hill and managed to glimpse it running away. I felt like the luckiest person ever. I couldn’t believe we saw so much in one morning after a day of seeing nothing. Another giraffe topped our patrol as one of the best weeks of my life. My journey of sighting African wildlife has got off to an amazing start!
Clemmie, 22 From the New Forest in Hampshire, U
Some random thoughts and suggestions:
– “Be guided” + “Be careful”
– At night if you have to kill-a-snake(go for a pee) don’t wait until you have to sprint, always walk slowly.
– Bring thermals, woollen gloves, down jacket, woollen hats –Africa in July is very cold
– Bring lots of treats on patrol week, chocolate, biscuits, fruit sticks as you get hungry sitting and watching
– Choose your rocks wisely – Mattias likes the very big, flat ones!
– Washing wheel barrows is an art form – perfect it wisely
– Do not let the apple crumble burn
– Do not use your phone to use as a camera as you will not be allowed to take it on the project week
– The recipes are amazing and simple and tasty
– When the lion (bear) starts eating you it is no longer playing so fight for your life.
Chorus: Well, we are sitting here in the Namib desert,
Sitting here with nothing to do
Sitting here watching the sun go down
Over there by the sky is blue
Welcome to the EHRA family
They’ll always remember you
When the hornbill sounds and goes “kaakal”
Then we know the night will be so true
The stars are out and the Milky Way is clear
The elephants are watching over you
The wind is cold and our sleeping bags are wet
But they are not yet soaked through
The wall we built was fairly high, 1.8m exactly
I have learned to find a stone,
To fit any hole, but that doesn’t matter,
Because Mattias said it will never do.