Doing research come rain or shine!
Monday morning I was up at 6am and started the day's activities in the boma. We started off collecting dung for the various tests that we carry out and then I went into the pens and removed all the left over branches. After a while Tazayi came over and asked me to help him carry the food bowls over to Harry, Namib and Tosha so with a fair amount of strength we managed to carry them over to the pens. As a thank you he then invited me to come and say hello to Namib and Harry also because he was trying to find a cut on Harry's underside, but to no avail. It was lovely being so close to the big boys. Harry stretched down and I was told to touch the Temporal Gland secretions and have a smell. It was so strong, almost gives you that face when in chemistry the teacher says 'waft the solution' and you stick your nose right over it and it burns like crazy…yeah kinda like that…err just no burning.
So after finishing up in the boma I had a break when I had some breakfast and caught up a bit on my data entry. Then I went out to do the AB on Mashudu. He was so fun to watch today, I think it's probably because he is so young and mischievous that it makes more entertaining observations, plus he doesn't do as many self directed behaviours like Shaka and Clyde so it's a lot different to watch him.
After my shift watching little Mashudu I was on a break followed by two hours of non-stop data entry! I started trying to get up to date with all my AB data but as soon as I start entering it I am out doing more so the pile of notes never ends! However I was happy to go out on the last shift for AB with Mashudu and watch him peacefully now that all the guests had gone for the day. When I came back in Alice, Charlotte and I had a Fajita night and sat at the table for a couple hours chatting over dinner and enjoying the lovely evening.
Tuesday was another good day, getting up at 8am definitely counted as a good start! I was then out watching Shaka and Clyde for a couple of hours until I went for breakfast with the girls. The next couple of hours watching Shaka and Clyde went by slowly. There were no rides so I sat on the platform by the boma watching them. Not much happened but it was nice to sit in the sunshine watching them. Then it was back to the office and time for a bit of data entry. Activity budgets takes pretty much as long, if not longer to type up the data, but I am just starting to get used to all the different codes so it didn't take quite as long as last week!
My last shift with Shaka and Clyde went quickly, they were out on rides and time always seems to go a lot faster when following them around. I then came in and made some bread, and while it was rising I made some dinner. Once we had finished dinner, Alice and I sat in our room singing along to the mamma mia soundtrack for a bit until Ben phoned and I chatted with him until it was time to go to bed.
It was raining on Wednesday morning so I was thankful that I was watching Thato in the boma first thing. Once they were let out the pen I the whole herd while they were on an early morning ride. On the way to the Lapa Thandi, Nandi and Thato broke away from the rest of the herd because they were not being ridden and so I followed them. Then Austin walked in front on Nandi and I was left walking behind her. I kept back a bit, but then she noticed me walking behind her, stopped, turned around and came towards me. At first I took a step back thinking oh b*****, but then I remembered to stand still and I held out my hands to her and said. She wandered up to me though and put out her trunk to my hands, I said to her 'Nandi no I have no food for you, go back', so she took a sniff then turned around and walked off. My hear t was beating so fast, I could hardly believe that she had just walked up to me and walked off like that. Well anyway, Debbie came up to me and said well done for keeping my cool like that, but I still felt bad that I had had a bit of a run in with one of the ellies.
After activity budget Alice and I helped collect the watermelons that had been bought for the elephants. We are going o be giving them to the elephants as a present because it is the anniversary of the arrival of some of the ellies, so naturally they all get presents! Hopefully tomorrow we will be taking them up to the training ground so that they can enjoy them. Well anyway, while we were moving said watermelons a bloke turned up bright orange, with a bad wig and a loin cloth. It was Tarzan…and no I am not joking. A guy turned up with a film crew making an audition film to be the next Tarzan. So we looked on as all the ladies from reception oohed and aahed over him until it was time to go. It was rather funny to be honest.
That afternoon I went out to do my last activity budget on Thato, and then helped out in the boma until dinner. We ate quickly because a bunch of us were going out to the surf café for a few drinks. Alice, Charlotte, Luisa, Rafa, Joan and I enjoyed the live music while having a couple of mojito's. It was a good night, with some different musicians, overall a good night!
It was raining again on Thursday so we didn't get to give the watermelons to the ellies. Instead we stayed in the boma to collect dung because the boma guys had already started clearing out the pens. When all the ellies had walked through their pens and gone outside I went into Thato's pen to collect her dung. However while I was collecting it I saw that Shungu had gone outside but then run back in, probably because he doesn't like rain much. Anyway he ran towards Thato's pen and all I could think of doing was to stand up and say 'Shungu No!' at which point he stopped dead in his tracks with his ears out, then turned around and went back outside. My heart was pounding, but Jeffrey and the other guys walked over and joked about how I should work with them instead. For the second time in two days I had had a run in with the ellies, and I thought I was going to start getting a reputation for getting into sticky situations with the elephants. Laurie said not to worry but just make sure next time they aren't able to come back in before we go out to the pens.
I still wasn't happy about the whole thing so went to the office to see Debbie and Laurie and say that I was sorry about the two incidents with the elephants and that I swore I was not trying to get myself in trouble. Debbie and Laurie were really reassuring and said it was fine, sometimes these things happen, but I had handled both situations really well and they were not worried about it at all. I know that they are wild animals and that one always has to be vigilant so after assuring that I would not get into any more trouble I left for my next shift feeling a lot better that they were not concerned about the whole thing.
I finished my day at 12:30 because I am doing Activity Budgets on Friday when Shaka and Clyde have their injections and d so instead I wrote up some data, had some lunch and read my book for a bit. Then Laurie, Lisa and I went into Knysna to go food shopping seeing as we would be missing the town trip. The market was lovely! It was this huge farmers market store, where there were barrels of fresh fruit and veg, with tubs of dried fruit and nuts all along one wall, a wonderful meat and cheese counter in the middle of the shop and then a bakery that was filling the air with the most gorgeous smell of hot cross buns and fresh bread. It was heavenly! I got myself some nice fruit and parsnips as well as a crusty loaf of bread and some dried mango. Unfortunately though the mango was practically half finished by the time we got home!
That night we ate dinner together, mine including some lovely roast parsnips! And then Alice and I sat and watched A Knight's tale before going to bed. It was weird having a day off Today instead of Friday, but I am so looking forward to watching Shaka and Clyde get their injections tomorrow that I don't mind!
I was up early on Fridy morning to go and see Shaka and Clyde having their injections. I watched them from 7.30 -9.30, where for the most part they were in the crush being looked over by the vet. They were given sedatives so that blood could be drawn from behind the ears and the GNRH vaccine without too much hassle. It took a long time for the boys to fall asleep but eventually they were sedated enough for all the measuring and samples to be done. Once they were given the revival drug, I sat observing them by the crush until they were awake enough to go back outside. At first Clyde would rumble and then Shaka would reply, but then Clyde kept nodding off and snoring. It was really rather hilarious to be honest. Even so they eventually woke up and we sent them back into the camp to walk things off.
After a quick breakfast I went back outside to watch them. Both had some side effects from the muscle relaxants, including a bit of a uncoordinated trunk, some very careless chewing (all the grass kept falling out their mouths) and worst of all some very dangly penises. What with the muscle relaxant they were yet unable to put them away, so I had to keep timers on how long it took before they disappeared. Yup my elephant research has definitely started to get interesting!
By the time I went out for my last shift, they had woken up nicely, their manly parts had said good bye and they were grazing at full speed. The only odd thing I saw was that they both kept leaning off of their back right legs where they had had their injections, so I guess they must have been feeling a bit numb like us when we have injections.
I had the evening off so once the girls got back from town we had dinner and then I settled down to watch some Eddie Izzard, it was a nice relaxed evening after all the busyness of the morning.
Saturday morning I woke early and sat in the sunshine with some breakfast and my book. It was not until a couple hours later when the girls were up so I had a couple of hours of quiet bunk house all to myself! Once they were up I washed and showered, then sat with Alice and Charlotte chatting on the lawn until lunch time. Then once again I was immersed in my book and managed to finish it before we left to go on a late afternoon elephant tour. We went up on the tractor with a bucket of fruit and got to feed Keisha at the barrier, take some pictures of the herd and then we sat there watching them without having to worry about taking down any data. It was lovely!
That evening we all went out to dinner to The Table for Joan's leaving do. She was almost two months so everyone had got to know her well and we were all definitely going to miss her. But the evening was fun, we had some drinks and pizza and chatted together until finally we decided to come home and play some games before bed. Alice and I taught Charlotte and Laurie how to play Perudo (the dice game), and we fell about laughing whenever someone made ridiculous bets and ended up losing a dice. It was a great evening but it was starting to get pretty late so I headed off to bed.
I didn't do much on Sunday to be fair, I got up and started a new book while eating breakfast. When I had finished breakfast I did some Activity Budget write up and photoshopped some pictures to put up on my webpage. To have a bit of a break from the computer I went and made some bread. It actually didn't turn out too badly today either so I made sure that I had some with the salad I had made for dinner.
After dinner I read my book for a little while until the girls were all finished with cooking and cleaning up, then we went and watched finding nemo together in the living room. It was fun eating popcorn and singing along to dory's songs!