TPAD Day 3 – 3rd June 2013

Walked with 5 month lion cubs today; it was pretty cool. They are so cute 🙂

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Zambia internship.

I’ve realised that my photo a day of my travels might not work. Although I’m taking lots of pictures I can’t really upload them here because the wifi isn’t great and WordPress doesn’t like it and keeps timing out. I’ll still take pictures and when I get to good wifi places I’ll share some of them, and I’ll try to keep a record of my photos a day so I can upload them when I get good wifi but this might be tricky. Some will be on my phone, some will be on my big camera and I might forget which ones I’ve taken and what day they will be for. So, I’ll see how I go for a couple of weeks and decide whether it’s something to carry on with.

I’n the meantime I’m just going to try to blog every few days with what I’ve been up to. Still a record and I’ll still try to keep it interesting.

So I’ve started my internship. This week is really just an induction, so I’ve been spending time learning about the charity I’m placed with, which is ALERT (African Lion & Environmental Research Trust). They run a 4 stage rehabilitation program for lions to increase the numbers in the wild, as African lions are decreasing in numbers rapidly. I’m based in the Mosi-O-Tunya National Park in Zambia, near to the river Zambezi. They also run community and other conservation projects. I’m on an Education and Rural Community Development internship, which means I’ll be mainly teaching children in 3 local schools though lessons and reading, conservation and kids clubs. This week me and Abby (another intern) will be visiting the schools and watching how the clubs are run so we know what we’re doing next week. I’ll admit it; I’m a fair bit terrified. I’ve never taught kids or had much to do with them, let alone ones in a completely different continent! So it’s going to be a bit of a challenge. But, it’s always good to step out of the comfort zone every now and then. And this is definitely doing that. Got to be good for me. I hope.

I’ve been on a couple of lion walks too so far, with 5 month old lion cubs. The cubs are in stage 1 of the rehabilitation program and get taken on walks to get them used to their surroundings. They are very cute, but still dangerous. They want to play a lot, but their playing would hurt us with their sharp claws and paws. We had a few safety briefings, have to walk with a stick and be alert at all times. It’s pretty damn amazing though, being so close to them; even touching them. They look like big kittens with such cute little faces.

Because we’re in a national park, there’s quite a bit of wildlife around. As we were driving up the road to get here (incidentally in the back of a pick up truck; very African) a couple of African elephants just strolled across the road. Totally surreal. And monkeys and baboons just run around outside like birds and pigeons back in the UK. And tonight, just as I was writing this, a couple of giraffes walked across the field, only about 200 metres from where I was sitting. I love giraffes, so that was pretty damn cool.

What’s not so cool is the massive spider in my room. When I say massive, I mean massive. About the size of my hand. Including fingers. I saw it last night on the ceiling. This morning it was gone. I’m not thinking about where it might be now. Luckily I have a mosquito net as this should also keep spiders from jumping on me while I’m asleep. It won’t stop them from crawling in my shoes though so I’m making sure I put them upside down when I take them off and check them before I put them on. I’m also checking my bed and under the bed for snakes. Because snakes are rife here too. Apparently one time a snake crawled up a womans leg in the shower. Shit.

I also helped out with Donkey Drop today. This involved taking a chopped up donkey from the back of a pick up, putting it in the meat prep area, weighing it and then putting the bits in a freezer. Pretty nasty but it’s a necessary job because it’s the lion food. Lots of blood and body parts flying everywhere.

Everyone is really nice but I have to admit I’m missing home a bit. Already. It’s surprised me a bit actually, normally I’ve been fine when I’m away before. Maybe it’s because I know how long for. Maybe it’s because I know that it’s the start of a life change, a different routine and I’m out of sorts trying to adjust. Maybe it’s because this time I’d quite like to share some of these things with people. At the same time, in person not just in photos and over the internet. I’ll get over it I’m sure. And it doesn’t help that I’m not sure how much, if any, running I’ll be able to do. We can’t walk around in the park by ourselves because it’s too dangerous because of the animals (we even need to walk with a guide to go to bed after dark in the different buildings) so there isn’t really anywhere to go. I could possibly go in Livingstone but that’s about 15 mins by car and I don’t know how often I will go and if so, it will probably be the middle of the day so way too hot. So this might be 4 weeks without running.

And that’s a sad thought. And makes me realise just how important running and fitness is to me now. Hopefully in India things will be better. Although probably just as hot.