My first week here has been a steep learning curve.  It has been so different to what I have experienced in my first three months in South Africa at Karongwe Private Game Reserve.  Last week I woke up to a house full of twenty-something people at 4:30am to go out on a research drive, this week I roll out of bed at 7:45am to shovel down some breakfast and get out the door with my three other pals to go tackle the day.  I am still far more tired at the end of our days here.  It’s full on here and go go go!

Our main priority as interns here is the animals both here in our clinic and on our conservancy.  Everything else is secondary.  So everyday we start out by tending to all the animals in our care, and then we move on to any work that needs doing.  So far this week we’ve built a door to monkey-proof our mouse area, we’ve built an owl box to accommodate owls that are in our rehabilitation areas and pre-release enclosures, we started work on mealworm and cricket farms to help ensure a good supply of food to animals in our clinic and we’ve set up our pitfall traps in the conservancy.  It’s been challenging to say the least, but we are learning and really trying hard to solve any problems we come across. It’s a lot of hands-on, hard work but its super rewarding when things finally go right.

Even in only a short amount of time here, I feel as if we are growing.  We’re learning how to be adaptable and find solutions to real-life problems, and we are being exposed to new things that though are an unfortunate part of this industry, are an important part, for example, providing some of the animals in our care with freshly killed and/or live food.  This is what work experience should be about.

I came to my placement at Umkhumbi Lodge with an open mind.  I did everything possible to not have my perceptions distorted by anything I might see or hear.  In fact, I came here with only vague idea of what we would be doing, but in reality not knowing much at all.  I chose this and am happy with my decision.  I am a blank canvas.  I want to learn and experience my work placement for myself, not through somebody else first.  I am excited for what is in store for us next.

We’ve been at Umkhumbi Lodge for a week now.  One week down, eleven to go.  It will fly.

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