Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Of devils, field trips, and conferences

Since getting back from Africa, I have been keeping myself pretty busy. I have travelled around visiting family and friends (although I haven't made it down to see my grandparents yet and I'm feeling very guilty about that). Only a few days after I got home, I ended up back at work so I could spend some time at the FRE to try and spot my Ronan and catch up with my old workmates. I have always loved working at the FRE, with the exception of the ridiculous density of leeches in that area, so I was happy to be back there for the day. In order to spend that day at the FRE I had to first go into the office and fill in some paperwork to be listed as a volunteer. Apparently, that paperwork then went into the system quite quickly because only a couple of days later I got a phonecall from Bill the Biologist inviting me to come on a devil trapping trip at Granville Harbour on the West Coast. The trapping trip was good timing for me because it filled in the couple of weeks that I had no plans for so I agreed to go and help out.

I spent 10 days on the west coast in the pouring rain covered in devil poo with Bill the Biologist and Phil the Fieldy. Despite the weather, and again despite the leeches, I actually had a great trip. We got lots of devils, were kept very busy, and didn't find any with DFTD in the area yet. It was made even more interesting than usual because of Bill the Biologist being badly bitten (check that alliteration) by a devil while doing the tooth measurement. Bill's finger was quite badly injured and he had to go and get medical attention and was unable to measure and handle the devils afterwards so Phil the Fieldy and Emma the Unemployed had the opportunity to be acting biologists and do quite a bit of devil cuddling for the last couple of days on the trip.

I got back fromt the field trip and had a few days to get ready for today's presentation at the Australian Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference in Hobart. I was first speaker this morning and had to deliver my 30min talk to a room full of approx 150people. Thankfully, I quite like talking about devils so I didn't get to nervous before hand. Afterwards quite a few people (19 to be exact - I counted) come up to me at break times to tell me that they really enjoyed my presentation and to ask more questions. I'm very happy with that result. It was quite good being the first speaker as I was able to listen to all the other presentations stress free afterwards and there were a couple of very interesting topics.

All in all, its been good to be kept busy to delay the inevitable boredom that comes with being unemployed. I do feel like I need a holiday, though. Luckily for me my dad has also decided that its time for a holiday and is flying us all up to Queensland for a bit of a break the day after tomorrow.

South Africa

 My last stop in Africa was back in South Africa. One of my favourite times on my tourist half of my trip was our day spent in Kruger National Park. I would have preferred to have spent one less day in Tanzania or somewhere and had a second day to explore Kruger. Our day in Kruger included some amazing wildlife encounters, but it was also characterised by a lot of near misses. We had a near miss with both cheetahs and lions that were seen by other people only moments before we arrived in the same location and saw nothing, but the grass they had disappeared into.
Probably the coolest sighting of the day was 2 rhino, but the whole day and every animal I saw was amazing.


Most of the following photos were taken at Chobe National Park, quite a few of them from our wildlife spotting river cruise and the others from a game drive through the park the next morning. I would have happily stayed in Botswana another day or 2 to get a bit more time in the Park and spot more wildlife. Especially to have tracked down the elusive lions.

Chobe NP is where I scored my sighting of a honey badger running around in the wild. Unfortunately, by the time we had turned around and gone back to get a good look at it it had run off so there are no photos to prove it. I know I saw it, though, and it absolutely made my day.

  "Night time"
 "Day time"

During our drive through Chobe we had plenty of evidence that lions were definitely around in the Park, but unfortunately we didn't manage so much as a glimpse of them. I was pretty happy just to know they were around, though.

These Mongoose weren't in the National Park, but were just wandering around on the lawn where we pitched our tents on our last night in Botswana.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Zambia and Zimbabwe

Next up was Zambia, but while we were in Livingston we took the opportunity to zip across the Zambezi to Zimbabwe to check out Vic Falls from both sides. Zambia was quite nice, but the area around Livingston and Vic Falls was very touristy. I had a lot of fun there and it was nice to be able to get a decent coffee, but I would have preferred to spend slightly less time there and spend some more time at Kruger NP.

 The mighty Zambezi. This was the view from the resturant at our hotel.

 Above and below: Vervet monkeys were everywhere!

Victoria Falls

A family of warthogs invading a petrol station lawn :)


Next stop was Malawi. We spent almost a week in Malawi, camped in a couple of different spots around the shores of Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is so big it looks like the ocean, but isn't very inviting to swim in because of the parasites it contains. Malawi was one of my favourite places I visited because the scenery was gorgeous and the people were friendly and beautiful. Some of my best memories of the whole trip are of talking to the locals in the villages we visited in Malawi. I also found it a very confronting place because the level of poverty is extreme and disease like malaria and aids are really prevalent there. I would definitely like to go back to Malawi and spend some time volunteering with one of the hospitals or schools there.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

RIP Darcy

Unfortunately, my beautiful Darcy passed away while I was in Tanzania. I was unable to be with him in his last days, but he had the very best of care. He was simply very old.

I miss him heaps.

Tanzania and Zanzibar

 I joined up with my tour group in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Unfortunately, I didn't have a very good first impression of Dar, being stuck in a traffic jam for four hours in the most hot and humid place I've ever visited. Dar was hot, smelly, extremely poor, and very overcrowded. Everything about it was overwhelming. I didn't get any photos of the overwhelming parts of the city simply because I was too overwhelmed to get my camera out.

Thankfully, we didn't spend much time in Dar, but caught a ferry across to Zanzibar. Stonetown in Zanzibar is also hot, smelly, and overcrowded, but it isn't as bad as Dar so I got a few photos there.


This is the monument to the slaves that were sold in this slave market, chained to a tree. Several of the holding cells still exist and we were taken through them to see the appalling conditions that the slaves were stored in before they were auctioned off. The whole place made me feel sick.

When we left Stonetown and went to the beach, I started to enjoy my time in Zanzibar more.

My favourite part of Tanzania, though, was when we finally left Dar again and headed inland. The rural parts of Tanzania are beautiful and the coolness of the mountain air was such a welcome change from the heat of the coast.