On March 12, I was taken to the Rhino and Lion Reserve where I had a once in a lifetime experience. About an hour into our drive, I saw the big sign with two lion statues next to it. We drove in and I immediately saw animals. I saw ostriches and a giraffe. While driving around, we saw all sorts of bucks, like the blesbuck, rooihartebeest, sable and springbok, which is South Africa’s national animal. We also saw a warthog with her two babies. We then drove up to the predator camp, which is where the more dangerous animals are, and we were just in time for the feedings. We watched wild dogs, cheetahs and lions being fed. It was so cool because we were right next to all of them in our car watching them eat.
We then went to the cubs pavilion where there were cubs and other grown feline friends. There were also pygmy hippos and a rhino, but because the cats are so dangerous and you couldn’t be in a car in that area, they were behind fences so you couldn’t get hurt. At the cub centre, there were baby lions, tigers and cheetahs. I got to pet baby tigers which was so exciting! Some of the larger cats we saw, were grown cheetahs and tigers, leopards and black leopards. When we were driving back towards the exit we saw some zebra too. As we were about to leave we saw the giraffe right next to the restaurant balcony so I rushed up and as I got there, I saw its long neck and head right in front of me. I probably could’ve touched it! By the end of that visit I had seen the lion, rhino, buffalo and leopard, which is four out of the big five.
The next weekend we went to the elephant sanctuary, which also consists of a mini monkey sanctuary. We were put into a group of around 20 people. We walked through the monkey sanctuary where there were lemurs and bush babies. Next, as we walked through a gate, there were two elephants standing right in front of us. We got two buckets of food that we had to feed to them. I cupped my hands and put the food in one of the elephant’s trunk, and then he brought it up to his mouth. Once we emptied the buckets, we got a lesson on the anatomy of the elephant and saw some bones, which were so big. We then met two other elephants, and got to touch them and take pictures with them. I touched an elephant’s trunk, tusks, stomach, legs and ears. We also got to look inside his mouth and see his teeth and tongue. I then went to see the second elephant and got a kiss on the cheek. His trunk was so big and dirty, so it left a muddy mark on my face. Once all of us had gotten kissed by the elephant, we went to walk with two other elephants. It was my turn to walk with them, so I put out my hand behind me and she put her trunk to my fingers as if holding my hand. We walked for a few minutes and then said goodbye. It was such an exciting outing and on top of that, we visited an African craft market. After both of those trips I got to see all of the big five. How many people can say that?
– Dahlia Kahn ‘18, Exchange Student at St. Stithians College