Story of my Sabbatical in the bush
The Game Ranger course was brilliant. There were six of us, five guys and one girl. Ages ranged from 18 to 50+ … ie me. Our instructor/safari guide/leader was an absolute legend. The location of the camp was great, right on the banks of the Oliphants River… I loved the walks and we got close to some big game – elephants, giraffes, hippos and buffalo. We also had some great game sightings from the camp, especially hippos, crocs and elephants.
The Tuli Conservation project in Botswana was where I did the animal tracking, observation and recording work. However, it was also an exercise in wilderness living – it was very rustic stuff!
We did two game trips a day, split roughly half and half between walks and drives. I loved the walks and we got pretty close to some big game – elephants, giraffes, hippos and buffalo. We also had some great game sightings from the camp, especially hippos, crocodiles and elephants.
We did most of our animal surveys from the Land Rover and had to search quite hard for some of the animals. Some of the great sightings included a mother cheetah and two cubs on a fresh kill, bat-eared foxes, brown hyaenas and an aardvark. We also saw some big herds – 25 elephants, and another time about 80 eland!! The bird sightings were great, with some lovely spotting points on rocky koppjes; plenty of vultures, eagles, buzzards, and some nice kites and water birds
Saturday night was always party night. The parties at the fixed camp were elaborate, including some very creative fancy dress from limited resources. Yes, I had to join in!
It was tough saying good bye to those who left Tuli midway through my stay. I was very sad leaving Tuli and finally when Emil, Katie and I all parted at Johannesburg airport. It was a relatively short time that we were together, but you get very close to people when you’re out in the bush and wake up with them, spend the day with them, eat with them and relax with them! ACE isn’t all about animals by any means; the personal relationships are quite special. Those that embrace the true wilderness and special character will love Tuli– and I did!
By Stuart Spindler, ACE sabbatical volunteer