Areena game reserve, that rings a bell...
The Coast to Coast was checked and confirmed, here we could find Abbey.
During Abbey's birth, his mother had died. The mother of the current owner of Areena game reserve found Abbey and decided to hand rear him. Without his mother's milk, Abbey struggled to get all the minerals he needed and is now smaller than your average male. Still, if you have never come face to face with a Giraffe, they are a lot bigger than expected (even under-sized Abbey)!
A tall yellow neck and head stuck out above the tree tops almost a kilometre away. The sound of the truck was a give away and Abbey had seen us. He galloped over to us but stopped maybe 200 meters away to see who we were. Whilst the two of us were total strangers, Abbey recognised our guide and seemed to relax.
As the long neck falls toward the crown of your head, Abbey shows his affection, if he really likes your aura he will rest his head against yours and a lick on the face means he is really excited!
Our connection to animals is something so natural. Our purpose on Earth is to develop the planet as an entity to a more complex state. Being able to communicate across species is a necessary tool for this evolution. G.D. Roberts' Shantaram discusses this as the tendency toward ultimate complexity, our addition is the inter-species relationships.
Not far from Areena game reserve is Inkwinkwezi game reserve. 3 elephants and 3 cheetahs live at Inkwinkwezi who all have something in common. They have all felt the effects of poaching personally. Their mothers were poached during childhood, something we will discuss further in Part 3. With no mother in their youth, these animals have been raised by humans.
Some of you may be questioning the ethics of humans adopting different species, but this brings us back to benefiting the planet as a whole single organism. If you would help a human in the same situation, for any animal you should do the same... If you have the necessary facilities.
The cheetahs at Inkwinkwezi are 2 brothers and their sister, their mother was taken by poachers and they were raised here.
Their slender bodies are longer than you would expect and as they slide past, your leg gets a warm hello. We learnt of their eating habits, daily routines and back stories. Not included in their guideline diet was a huge chunk of Laura's hair which the young female gnawed off quickly! In the wild, cheetahs are not aggressive and attacks are very few in number, which settled our nerves
These animals are happy, but they do not know much else. They have a decent amount of space, but it is small relative to the area they would cover in the wild. As they gaze through the fence onto a Bless Bok grazing in the neighbouring field, we are told that Inkwinkwezi has tried to release these animals, but they returned; injured and searching for food shortly after.
The truck grinds along the dusty road through the remarkably green landscape (considering the drought). Suddenly 3 elephants come into view. They are being minded by a team of men who have raised them. These beautiful intelligent animals lost their mothers through poaching, an issue causing serious problems across Africa.
There are two males and one female at Inkwinkwezi, but their foster family make sure they do not reproduce as they know they have insufficient resources to support another elephant. This is a far more ethical way of dealing with population control, as opposed to some reserves which allow hunters to come and hunt for trophies - a disgusting waste of life without purpose and with twisted motives.
As an animal lover you must do your research and do not walk blindly into encounters with animals.
Too often you hear/read about a place like Lion Park which we spoke about in Part 1, where the animals will pose for photos and play with you and you will be let down. Always do a background check and read the reviews (Tripadvisor) before deciding to visit somewhere.
In South Africa you are spoilt for choice and with an abundance of anything you see the ups and the downs. Get educated about this and let's help those trying to do the right thing!
Stay posted for part 3 (our final episode) of our animal love series. We will talk about the problem of poaching in South Africa and what animal lovers like yourselves can do to help.
Are you a responsible animal lover?
Do you have a tale to tell or a story to share that can help others follow the right path?
Comment below or get in touch, maybe share this blog with your friends. Lets make a change!