After a long drive, which included the whole bus-load of kids assisting to push the bus due to a flat battery in Kamanjab, we arrived at the Hobatere Campsite, where Tammy Hoth and her team had already set up a beautiful camp for us all.
On the first afternoon, after we had all settled in, it was time for a quick refreshing jump in the little pool. Which was then followed by our first excursion to a quiet waterhole on the other side of the mountain, where we learned the ins and outs of setting up camera traps and why they are so crucial to research work in the field. We further inspected the surrounding waterhole area and got a good idea of the different animals that must spend the afternoon there just before we arrived.
Back at the Campsite the kids were divided into three groups, each receiving their own camera trap as well as the task of deciding where to set it up depending on what their main capture aims were.
Soon the sun was setting and it was time to cook our first dinner on the open fire. As the kids were camping in an open camp site who have resident lions coming by on a daily basis, the AfriCat Lion Guardians explained to us they were going to do night shifts every night from 22:00- 06:00! So naturally the kids grabbed at the first chance of adventure and offered to help take turns every night and keep the guys company. Despite having to get up at 02:00 in the morning, leave their warm sleeping bags and join the rest of the guards around the fire, they did so without a fuss.
After a quick breakfast the next morning, we visited a small communal school, which belongs to the Lion Guardians conservancy. It ws amazing for the kids to see, how different schooling can be and is for a majority of children who live in the rural parts of Namibia.
Tents instead of proper classrooms, hardly any stationery….. how LUCKY they actually are in our Perivoli Okonjma Country School! We had brought donations along in the form of toys, stationery and exercise books, which were MUCH appreciated by the teachers and the kids. Afterwards we all divided into teams and played a match of volleyball and soccer in mixed teams, even the chief of the community came and watched!
We set off to find a beautiful shady spot in the riverbed for a quick lunch stop, after which we visited more areas where AfriCat North do their vital Human Wildlife Conflict work within the conservancy and explained to the kids the importance of herding livestock, brining them in early enough during the day so the herdsmen don’t sit out too late and much more.
Back at the camp, it was time to reflect upon their day and time for a quick journal entry, so as to keep all the memories of the weekend fresh in our minds.
On the third day we visited the famous Hobatere Lodge, home to the Hobatere Pride who form part of the AfriCat Hobatere Lion Research Project, which meant it was finally time to look for the lions…
Equipped with the telemetry we were so lucky to find one of AfriCat’s most recently collared Sub-adult lioness – Sidatia (Hpl-12).
And in the afternoon — the big surprise!!! We got a permit to visit Etosha National Park and how lucky we were! In the quick morning drive we bumped into Elephants, Giraffes, Zebra, Ostriches, you name it! Not to mention the kids got a great story to take back home, just as the herd of elephants were making their way towards us we got a flat tire… Thankfully all remained calm, the Eli’s weren’t aggressive and we had enough eyes to keep on the look out!
Before we knew it, it was Sunday morning too quickly and everyone was up in flash as they were woken up by the roaring of a pride of lions right close to the tents. Last but not least, each group presented their camera trap mission as well as their results and the group with the best outcome in their camera trap activity won a great prize!
THANK YOU Team AfriCat North for these amazing days and experiences!
We learned so much about the importance of wildlife conservation and nature and CANNOT WAIT to come back!