From our working holiday volunteering with leopards, elephants and cheetahs in Namibia, Africa (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/namibia)

Team 6 brought the rain. Not the average almost-evaporates-before-touching-the-ground-rain, but full-on rain. With thunder, lightning and the whole shebang. With nine of the team members out at the 4WD training, we sought shelter under the roof at the scientists’ compound. They have a metal roof in their lapa and it was spectacular. Back at bush camp, merely 6 kms away, Heidi had been out checking box traps with Ligeus and wondered what all the fuss was about because no rain fell there. Such are the vagaries in the non-rainy season in Namibia.

Team 6 also brought the rhinos, two of them at their first dinner here in camp. The rhino pals were so comfortable near us, they laid down for a while, so we got a really nice front-row encounter in the comfort of our own home.

Monday was our box trap training up at the CS House box trap, and afterwards we split into three groups to check all the traps. Markus, Astrid and Christiane came with me and got the grand tour of the farm on the first day, because we were responsible for checking the Lodge trap (where we found hyaena prints walking just beside the trap) and the Mountain trap (where I forgot there is a camera trap so there will be nice pictures of my lower legs for the next data entry team to see).

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Today, Wednesday, the teams are working independently and enjoying the fruits of their two days of training. First order of business is changing the meat in the box traps, so it will be interesting to hear at tonight’s briefing how they’ve combined all their navigational, equipment, box trap and data sheet training for a successful day in the field. Most volunteers comment on how they cannot believe that after two days of training that we let them loose to work on their own in the field. Yes, we trust them. All the volunteers are so important, because we’re able to do so much more work all over the farm.

This morning the elephants gave Markus, Astrid, Christiane, Karen and I a merry chase. We searched for 4+ hours with no luck. We did telemetry in the north, south, east and west, and not a single beep. Yes, we even had fresh batteries in the telemetry receiver. Christiane and Markus even climbed up the Boma treehouse to have a listen. Well, no data are still data, so we have to record those as well.

On the way back from searching for the elephants, our team came across a large group of giraffe. Take a close look at the horns on the wee one. You’ll notice that they are crooked. That’s because when giraffes are born their nubs aren’t yet connected to their heads. Over time they grow and adhere to the animal’s head, becoming fully fused at 4-4.5 years (~7 years in females). But at birth they are loose and lie flat so they’ll ease through the birth canal.

From our working holiday volunteering with leopards, elephants and cheetahs in Namibia, Africa 

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