Conservation gap years in Africa

Letter From Africa

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by Alice Croydsdill

Dear Parents,

Only just managed to get into town after almost two weeks so there’s way too much to tell you after all this time but I’ll just pick out the best bits!

The warthogs seem to have a built in sensor which attracts them to my wardrobe when they break into our house so twice now I’ve been fighting with tart to get her out of my wardrobe and dirty washing and she just spins round and round squealing her head off!

The buffalo darting and capture last week was amazing! We stayed at Nhorveni right in the middle of the bush and slept out which was unbelievably freezing. I was curled up at the bottom of my sleeping bag coming up for air all night and hearing the noises of the cheetah and hyena (animal with the strongest jaws in the bush and the most dangerous) coming closer and closer! The campfire was really nice and it is the most beautiful place, we sat watching amazing sunsets and Vivienne got us up really early to watch the sunrise 5.45am not funny!


I had to hold up the buffalo head whilst it was unconscious to keep airways clear- easier said than done I can tell you! but the scariest thing yet was the massive capture of all the females on Friday! We arrived just in time as the helicopter had already gone up and so we had a quick look at the set up which is like a funnel using massive sheeting and the animals are herded in and once they cross certain parts of the funnel, a very brave man runs across with a curtain still made of very flimsy sheet and gradually it pens them in more and more until they go up a ramp into these massive almost Jurassic Park type trucks! Well within seconds we were herded ourselves onto the top of one of these trucks – stupidly I got onto the one in use at that time, along with most of the students and my heart has never bashed against my chest so hard before!

We were yelled at to lie completely flat so the buffalo couldn’t see or smell us and to keep very still! It was all even scarier because everyone is in a real panic and the helicopter is zooming around really low and there’s yelling and shouting between all the worker men and the coordinators and there’s us lot quivering on the top as this whole heard come racing through this funnel towards the truck- at the last moment we are told to hold on and they start charging up the ramp huffing and puffing and as you can imagine pretty annoyed really! and there I am lying right next to the opening of the roof literally about to have a heart attack as they start jumping on top of each other with their horns almost through the roof right where we are! The whole truck is moving from side to side and I’m just a little scared! One side is a sheer drop from a massive height and the other is a snorting humungous male with massive horns! erm yes! Anyway survived that just about which was amazing and the adrenaline rush was huge! It’s such an amazing feeling, every so often I get this complete rush of feeling unbelievably happy and completely contented and it is so lovely!


What else, not sure if you’ve heard about us cutting up the dead hippo which was the most grossest smell I’ve ever smelt I was nearly sick! We visited the cheetah project yesterday which was good. Anyway I’ve been bonding with my animals more and “Jealous” the bataleur eagle comes when I call her and follows me around the pen when I clean it and she protects me from the other eagles which aren’t so friendly! Woody the wood owl is my new boyfriend he is the most beautiful bird you could ever see and I even pull the legs and head of baby chicks for him, so it must be love eh!

We’ve stopped doing Porsche the cheetah cause she attacked Vivienne and we’ve decided its definitely PMT and she should have her first season soon so we’re keeping away and taking her for a walk when Brian comes out of hospital (he’s having seven metal plates removed from his leg after a car accident!). Been for a walk up the mountain yesterday which was really nice, just like a rain forest and then got very silly and dressed all the boys up as girls for dinner last night!

This morning was gross and pouring with rain but we had been promised we could meet the tame zebra so got up extra early and spent the morning drenched giving hay to the animals and meeting Zeby. Then had a very close shave with the two rhino who were intent on getting the hay before we unrolled it which was really quite terrifying, especially when Corrie started throwing rocks at them to get them away and they put their tales up and heads down and looked pretty annoyed as you can imagine so they were so close I could practically touch them, but all car doors were open and we were seriously on our toes.

It is funny here because it’s all a calculated risk as they say, but there seem to be plenty of them but that makes it much more fun! Big Boy the lion was stalking me up and down the fence last night which was a bit scary and our brown hyena we caught a few days ago cause we think she is pregnant. I had loads of baby bunnies recently which are so cute and I have to bottle feed them and the servals are due to give birth any second. I think we’re catching zebra next week which should be another amazing experience and I’ll have to consult my diary for more stories for next week!

Further Information

African Conservation Experience

Image courtesy Tambako The Jaguar




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