Thursday, June 14, 2012

March 16, 2012: Figa Gets New Mates, Learning to Dart and Goodbye to Khulula

Hi All,

After Sam and Kiara left Khulula, Figa was extremely upset. She paced back and forth and growled as I approached her enclosure. Would she ever trust me again? On Saturday afternoon after Petronel returned from watching her son's rugby match, she announced, "we're putting the cubs in with Figa". Just like that we let the cubs out of their enclosure and they followed Petronel to Figa's enclosure (photo 1).

How would she react? Would she attack them? Would she accept them? We were more apprehensive than Petronel. She opened the gates to Figa's pen, the cubs waltzed in and immediately started playing with Figa. It was instant bonding. much easier than introducing domestic cats (Photo 2).

The cubs were growing up fast. We starting introducing meat and bones to their diets. No more skinless, boneless chicken for them (Photo 3).

Yesterday, we had a lecture on the proper darting of wild animals. Animals are darted to transport them, give them medical attention or to simply calm them down. Certain drugs can only be prepared by a vet but can be administered by a marksman. An animal is darted in certain sites where there is a lot of muscle such as the shoulder or flank. The drug usually starts to take effect in 2 minutes and after about 15 minutes the animal can be safely handled. The animal must be monitored during the process. Respiration, heart rate and body temp. should be taken regularly. A small amount of drug is lethal to humans so extreme caution must be taken. Little did we know that we would get the chance to actually shoot a dart (blanks for practice) gun. Mark had set up a target 20 meters away and we were each given 3 shots. The person with the highest score would win tea and cupcakes (not something I would choose). It was actaullay easier than I thought. You just line up the crosshairs on the target and pull the trigger (photo 4). I came in 3rd after Marc and Louise the detective from the UK won. Of course shooting a moving animal from a helicopter is an entirely different ballgame.
Today we said goodbye to Khulula Wild care. We had an amazing 2 weeks taking care of the animals there. It was very rewarding to see Sam and Kiara get moved to a larger Game Lodge where they would have more room to roam, releasing a rehabilitated Goshawk and Buzzard and watching the white lion cubs thrive and grow into proper lions. I attached some more photos of some of the other animals at Khulula:

Photo 5 - Marc dancing with Kevin ( a released male Ostrich who still visits)

Photo 6 - Harley the wild male serval who would hiss and growl at me every time I fed him (Red, this is a real Harley)

Photo 7 - One of the Lesser Bushbabies lapping porridge
Photo 8 - The Wood Owls

This morning we were dropped off at the Nelsprit Airport to pick up our rental car for the drive back to Johannesburg. They upgraded us to a BMW. I'm not sure I want to drive around Joburg in a BMW but, here we are back at our friends Steve and Jayne's house. We'll spend 2 nights here before flying to Botswana on Sunday morning.

We see that it has been unseasonably warm in Vermont and the the biking season has begun.
Marc and Peggy

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