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  • Day17

    Zeph's Ziwa Birthday

    November 1, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ ☁️ 26 °C

    Today started with a plan to leave early to get up to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary after Zeph had had some presents - no Kampala driving though on his 17th birthday. We avoided the worst of the Kampala traffic and got onto the Gulu road for a 3 hour drive. On arrival we had thought we had been booked into Ambuka lodge, however after being welcomed with drinks and cold flannels it transpired, much to the protestations of the welcoming team that we had actually been booked into Ziwa lodge. Eventually we arrived at our destination, a very basic lodge next to the headquarters and were warmly greeted by Winnie, who told us she was a Watoto child and had actually shared a house with Dennis!

    The Rhino sanctuary is located in 7,000 hectares of bush land. Rhinos were lost in Uganda in the 1970s and now through this programme they are being reintroduced into the wild. In addition to all the Rhinos there are many antelope, some leopards and many species of birds. After a quick lunch we went Rhino trekking. After a short drive we stopped and walked through some long grass to be see a mother and baby rhino ahead. They are docile when left alone and can only see around 30 metres, but can hear and smell a lot better. So we were told that they were unlikely to charge but if they did to dive behind a tree! Once we had left this pair we went to another group of 3 which we tracked on a loop until we found them back were we started next to the van!

    After supper we went on a night walk - a trek in the pitch dark amongst the noise of crickets and chicadas. Although we saw no leopards, we did see rabbits - which the guide seemed very excited about, us less so. We also saw some night birds and mole crickets which make a very loud noise.

    After about 3 hours we returned back to our lodge to find a group of 5 rhinos sleeping in our garden! We got to sleep quickly amongst the geckos on our walls!
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    Anna Burton

    Look at you oggs nice pic xx😂❤️

    David Burton

    What a lovely way to spend Zeph's birthday and what an amazing experience for you all. The first clear picture too of our African daughter's hair so do hope that you leave it Emma for a few days when home so we can see it for real. Clearing immigration at Heathrow will be interesting! Have safe and good journey's home and thank you for the very interesting daily blogs which have brought alive your trip so well. Zach we will be praying for you and trust that you will really enjoy your time working at the hospital and medical centre; it seems a wonderful opportunity. Every blessing to you all, Gdad and Granny

    Aurélie Drogou

    Happy birthday to Zeph I am sure it was really special

  • Day30

    Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

    October 15, 2019 in Uganda ⋅ 🌧 22 °C

    Today we pick up our hire car and head north, to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. This is a huge nature reserve which acts as a shelter for the White Rhinoceros families that are being bred here. Through poaching, the Rhino population was wiped out in Uganda, but efforts are being made by organisations like Ziwa to reintroduce them to the wild.

    We planned to camp, but a huge storm is raging across Uganda, so we decide to stay nice and dry in a room. Still, it's a very basic room- a concrete cube with an exposed lightbulb and a broken bed, but we're here for Rhinos, not luxury.

    And Rhinos we get. The next morning we wake up early for a guided walk to see them. They don't like the heat, so the best time to see them is just after dawn. We head to the kitchen to grab a quick breakfast, and are amazed to see a small Rhino family settled just next to the building. We're admiring them, when a large male crashes out of the bush and across the children's play area, lumbering between the swings and the slide. "Quickly! Get inside! That one is dangerous!!" cries the kitchen manager, so we run into the kitchen, safe behind fences.

    After breakfast, we report for the briefing with the rangers. The one in charge advises us "If a Rhino charges at you, jump up in a tree, but beware of leopards and snakes". We have no idea if he is joking or not.

    With a slight sense of trepidation, we walk out to see the Rhino family we watched at breakfast (the male has disappeared into the bush). From a safe distance, and always from behind cover, we watch them feed for a good long while. They're incredible animals- so prehistoric and clumsy that they look more like robots from Jurassic Park than genuine animals.

    As the sun comes up, the rhinos seek shade for a snooze, so we head back to HQ. As we come back, another group is gearing up to set off. We feel slightly bad that they will be just seeing sleeping rhinos, mostly hidden in the long grass.

    For lunch, we head to the next lodge over, which is for luxury travellers. They have a pool, and have allowed us to use it if we get lunch. And the food is amazing- pasta with pesto and fresh pineapple. Luxury travel does have its benefits.

    The next morning, we're up earlier still to track shoebills- one of Africa's most elusive birds, and Katie's favourite animal. We're up before dawn, so the Rhinos are still sleeping, and it just so happens that one of the families is sleeping right next to our car. It's important that we don't startle them, as they may be liable to charge, so the ranger directs us to sneak up to the car and quietly open the doors. We do so, and I even try to start the engine quietly, easing the key slowly in the ignition. It doesn't work, and when the engine roars into life, so do the Rhinos. I reverse cautiously but quickly and get out of there before a charge destroys our rental security deposit.

    We drive through the thick mud, quickly so that we don't get mired down, which takes some deft driving to avoid skidding off into the rivers which have formed on the sides of the tracks. Eventually, we arrive at the swamps, and, incredibly, we see not one, but four shoebills.

    They're freakish birds- 4 feet tall, with a beak half the size of it's body and sharp enough to cut fish in two. Their huge eyes peer at us while our guide explains how lucky we are- most guests see one bird if they're lucky, and we're watching four.

    We leave with a smile as big as one of those disgustingly large beaks.
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  • Day2

    Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

    January 19, 2020 in Uganda ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Hier gibt es ein Gebiet, relativ groß, in dem Nashörner geschützt und umsorgt werden.
    Irgendwann Ende der 80ziger nach Idi Amin gab es hier wohl gar keine Nashörner mehr, dann hat man irgendwann von Kenia welche geschenkt bekommen und die haben sich hier inzwischen „etabliert“ und vermehrt, so dass es jetzt schon wieder über 20 gibt. 👍

    Man hat die Möglichkeit mit einem Ranger bei einem Spaziergang Nashörner zu suchen, was wir natürlich gerne in Anspruch genommen haben.
    Und wir haben drei Stück gefunden, die zusammen faul im Schatten rumgelegen haben.
    Glück hatten wir auch noch dabei, es waren das erste hier im Park angesiedelte Nashorn, der Bulle Obama 😆, seine Schwester Maleika ( = der Engel) und das Kalb von Maleika, Elias 😍!

    Dazu gab’s natürlich noch jede Menge input von dem Ranger, ein megaschöner Ausflug!!

    Witzig auch, wenn man dann hier die ganzen anderen Ranger mit den Fahrrädern rumfahren sieht und wir zu Fuß... obwohl die Rhinos ja echt gefährlich werden können.
    Aber laut Ranger sind Spitzmaulnashörner viel aggressiver, die hiesigen Breitmaulnashörner sind dagegen relativ gechillt und verziehen sich eher.
    Daher sind aber die Spitzmaulnashörner auch für Wilderer leichter zu jagen, sie greifen an und werden somit leicht zum Ziel.

    Offtopic: in Kenia habe ich (finanziell) einen „Anti-Poacher-Hund“ adoptiert, da muss ich mich mal wieder drum kümmern...
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