Always looking for animals

Sam, Katy, and Noggs in Africa

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Back to school

In August last year an Earthwatch volunteer called Lexi worked us. As part of the Eco-schools programme the Earthwatch volunteers visited Pokanong Primary School and taught the children about the environment. After Lexi returned to her home in California, she was inspired to collected donations of pens, pencils and other stationary to send to the children at the school. She gathered donations from friends, family and from people visiting the Explorit Science Centre. Lexi collected an amazing 388 pens, 232 pencils, 4 mechanical pencil lead refills, 39 rubbers, 15 grips for pencils and 11 pencil sharpeners!! All the goodies were posted to Lajuma Research Centre.


A teacher at Pokanong Primary School


Laying out all the stationary

Judy, the Eco-schools Coordinator, and I took a group of Research Assistants and student from Lajuma to the school to hand out all the goodies. The kids answered questions about nature and if they got the answer correct they received a pencil or pen. At the end of the session all the children lined up and received something. It was a really nice day out and the kids were so excited to see us. We were completely mobbed by smiling waving children. As Judy says, ‘Going to a school in Africa makes you understand what it’s like to be Brangelina!’.


If you would like to find out more about Lexi’s campaign ‘Pens for Pokanong’ please join her facebook group by clicking here. 


Above left: All the children were excited to see us; Above right: Asking the children questions about nature


Looking after the Eco-schools garden


Teachers with information on Lexi’s campaign


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Savé Valley Conservancy & Gonarezhou National Park

Post 3 of 3 on our recent visit to Zimbabwe:


Okay, so we have talked about how Zimbabwe has changed lately, about the results of my PhD research.  This time I just wanted to share a few photos of our travels to Savé Valley Conservancy (thanks again to Chishakwe for hosting us) and Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe’s south east lowveld.


Savé Valley Conservancy:

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Chishakwe dam


Vulture at sunset


Wild dogs crossing



Gonarezhou National Park:


Katy’s feet looking for animals





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The magnificent Chilojo clifffs


Our camp at the cliffs


Eland steaks! It wouldn’t be camping without a braai.


Everywhere we went the animals were running


Brown snake eagle


Elephants and baobab trees: not friends

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What can go wrong will go wrong

Sometimes you just wake up and have one of those days. The other week I definitely had one of them.

I had arranged to drive out to check the camera stations on the western end of the mountains with Anna and Claire, our two predator assistants. We woke up when it was still dark and began down the road at 5 am. A mere 45 minutes later I was back at the tent on foot saying, “Wake up Sam! We need your help!”.

Our expedition was scuppered by a very  flat tyre after only 5 minutes of driving. Being tough-ish girls we assessed the situation and considered changing it ourselves.  However it was soon very apparent that we couldn’t even get the spare off without help so we found Sam. He brought the landy out to our broken down Toyota and fixed the tyre as the dawn broke. This was a momentous occasion for landrover owners everywhere!





After the tyre was fixed we went on our merry way. On one of the hikes Claire took a crazy kamikaze style tumble on some rocks. Very fortunately she was uninjured except her hand which was bleeding. Unfortunately the screen on one of the field laptops cracked when she fell.




Things happen in threes and this day was no exception. We discovered that two of our cameras have been stolen from the middle of nowhere!! Everything was completely gone. We looked for clues but found nothing. I am in the process of trying to track down the missing camera traps but so far I haven’t had much luck.




Ended on a high note and we went out to the ‘secret waterfall’. Claire convinced Anna and I to go wild swimming. And it was amazing.



All photos in this blog post were taken by Claire Gibson. Ta for letting me use them.