Tigers, Meerkats and Lemurs - Animals Galore :)
Trip Start Aug 28, 2012
110Trip End Aug 09, 2013
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This was attempt 2 at doing some volunteering whilst in South Africa. For starters; the place we had organised was 2.5 times cheaper than the previous place, looked nicer, had better reviews and fewer volunteers. So fingers crossed... But no need.; from the start things were brilliant and just kept better and better. It is hard to put into words how much this experience meant to me, nor is it possible to say how excited I was to have the opportunity to work with big cats again. I hope the photos show just how much fun I had!
We were dropped off by the BazBus in Mac Donalds. The bus was an hour and a half earlier so we had to hang around for our pick up. We were welcomed straight away by a smiley Bianca and Tamz, our volunteer co-ordinators
We arrived in the house at about 4:30 so it was a bit late to go to the ranch, so we just chilled in the house. But I was soon done with chilling and with my appetite coming back, the offer t go out for dinner with some of the girls was too gooda opportunity to miss, as well as getting to know some of the girls: Teresa and Vanessa from Germany, Lana from Holland and Ashleigh from Durban. We walked to the small town and went to Brian’s Grill which more or less sold every type of food going; from curries to BBQ food to Italian! I went for the safe, plain option of arabiatta pasta, with a recommendation from Lana who’d had it before. However, what it hadn’t been before was spicy, and bloody hell did this blow my head off
Our first day on the ranch was a chance for us to see the ranch and do all the encounters with all the animals; a blimming good day! After a quick intro from Tamz and Bianca, we went to the ranch and took a tour from one of the guides along with some public members before our animal encounters. We went in with the cheetahs, 8 month old tigers, servals (mini-cheetah), caracals (lynx), lemurs, python and lizard. All of these encounters have to be done with someone trained and with the big cats, sadly we weren’t really allowed to do anything other than pose with the for a picture. The smaller cats however were very friendly, purring away whilst we stroked them! We were also allowed in with the meerkats but without supervision which was good. On our second day morning we went to Greystones breeding centre. We saw 'lovers lane’ where the male cheetahs were released down to see if any females are interesting as well as some other rescued cheetahs that are there only for a home. We also went to the tiger breeding centre where there were 3 tigers (1 orange, 2 white). The 2 white tigers had recently been separated but were still flirting away so they were allowed back in together whilst we were there and we actually saw them breeding: tiger sexy-time
The rest of the week (all 3 and a half days) followed a timetable of 8:30 start, 10-10:30 break, 1-2 lunch time, and finish about 4:30. During ‘work time’ we were given jobs to do, most of which were pretty basic and quick, so we weren’t really worked too hard! Some examples of some basic, easy jobs we had were watering plants, hanging donkey tails on trees for the tigers to find and play with, cleaning various enclosures and cleaning out water bowls. Some tasks were either more challenging, hard work or down-right weird! One task we were given was called piñatas on our task sheet. Obviously you would think that maybe you’re making one for a party or something; you would not think of cutting up horse skin, cutting holes in the edges, stuffing it with mince meat and then threading a thread of skin through all the holes to make a sort of meat, shot-put... it was an interesting task and with half of the girls being vegetarians, Laura and I could understand why this task was given to us.
One of the funnier tasks Laura and I were given was to clean the windows of the massive fish tank. This was funny enough when we were given huge baggy shorts, snorkels and masks and weight belts, but made even more funnier when we were shown our tools for cleaning these windows; a 3cm long, shaving blade
As well as little jobs here and there, we had 2 projects, one which we made up for ourselves and the other being given to us. Our project that we decided to do for ourselves was an educational one; we figured there wasn’t that much for kids to do once they’d gone round the park once, so we designed a questionnaire/quiz sort of thing for them to do for around the park. We called it a “detective report” and everyone we told about it was very enthusiastic and eager to see it put into action. I worked for 4 hours on the sheet that evening and Laura did the quizzes for the other side of the sheet. However, we showed it to the marketing person Tammy and she pretty much put a halt on the whole idea so that was that; they’ve got the files so can do what they want with the idea if they choose to!
The second project we were given I named “Licking Duikers”
Our last day was allowed to be a ‘fun day’ as it was our last (as well as 8 of the others). Laura and I spent the longest amount of time of our day in with the lemurs, who need to be made more used to people and being hand-fed. Laura and I had been in with them the previous day, so going in with them for a second time, it was nice that they seemed to recognise us and be more confident in coming onto our laps and taking the food from our hands. After any type of cat as a pet, I want a ring-tailed lemur; so cute and soooo soft
That evening was our farewell meal with all of the house plus Bianca and Tamz. And OMG, I know I say it a lot, but I think this may have been the best meal yet. Of course, Laura and I shared. To have some traditional South Africa food, we started with lemon, croc bites with tartar sauce, chips and salad. We then had crumbed mushrooms with garlic dip and a sort of ‘surf and turf’; a sirloin steak and beautifully cooked calamari, with chips and salad. It seems a rather simple meal (except the crocodile!) but it was all cooked beautifully with good sauces to go with the food. Afterward, following a mix up with where everyone had disappeared to, we went down the road to the local ‘club’ if you can call it that. We had a few more drinks, an attempt at dancing to some good music and some not so good music before calling it a night at 1ish. Potentially the best bit of the evening however was the walk home; with Sander playing music on his phone, we all decided it was karaoke time and spent the entire half hour walk home, singing!
The next day luckily did not consist of a hangover but with everyone else on a trip to the beach, Laura and I had the house to ourselves and stupidly headed to town and the shops...lets just say I got a lot for a little amount with an even littler amount of space in my bad for the stuff to go into :S Haha
The week sadly flew by and it was soon time to move on. After our not so good experience with the first place, this couldn’t have gone any better with an amazing location, house, brilliant people and great animals to play with for the week. And with our food included Mon-Fri, t-shirt and polo-shirt, hat, £2 toward our leaving meal (that was less than £10 each) and free wifi all for a miniscule £202, it was an amazing week with brilliant memories and even better pictures to show it. Happy Cat!