Storms Rescue Anniversary

This week is Storms rescue-versary. You may remember a couple of months ago I shared that I had the pleasure of seeing rehabilitated critically endangered black rhino Storm back in the wild. Today I thought I’d share the story of rescuing Storm. It was a crazy night that I certainly wont forget.

Everyone at the orphanage was settled for the night of elephant and rhino care and after many dry months, we had a powerful storm gracing us with heavy rain. As the evening went on as usual, we received a call about a black rhino calf in need of rescue. Soon after receiving the call, Angie and I packed the car and rhino ambulance with the emergency kits and set off. The rain was torrential and as a result, we could hardly see the front of the car, let alone the road ahead. The dirt roads were already beginning to wash away due to the rains so we knew it was going to be a long drive through the dark, stormy night. Even when we finally reached the tarred road, the drive was still slow as the continued rain meant the visibility remained terrible. It took us 4 hours of driving to reach the destination and after meeting with the wildlife vet we loaded the 3 month old black rhino calf into the rescue trailer. 

I sat in the back of the rhino ambulance and watched over the tiny black rhino calf as Ang drove us back to the orphanage. The rain had begun to slow and at around 3am – after 6 hours of driving , we reached a flooded bridge that meant we couldn’t continue on. It had already been a very long night so we decided we would just wait at the side of the dirt road until sunrise but fortunately we didn’t have to wait that long as we received assistance from the reserve. So after some time of waiting for the almost unrecognisable bridge to be crossable we managed to continue on… It was a huge relief to finally make it back to the orphanage at 4:30 in the morning with the tiny black rhino. After parking up and making sure Storm was fine, Ang and I got a couple hours of sleep before getting back to work in the morning, caring for Ellie and the rest of the rhino orphans. 

Storms rehabilitation was tough, he was struggling with internal parasites & aspiration pneumonia and needed intensive, around the clock care but when he finally turned a corner and his appetite grew, he began to gain weight and started playing we knew he’d pull through. Storm became good friends with Nandi, another black rhino orphan of the same age and the pair moved through their rehabilitation process together.

Despite the tough start to life, Storms rehabilitation was a success and he now lives wild & free.

Tread lightly on this Earth,

Coexistwithmeg ♥
Megan Richards

Being Creative in Conservation

It can be scary to start something new. To put yourself out there and try something you have never tried before. It can be daunting to create and share your passions with the world. It’s easy to back out, to change your mind and to live small but DON’T. Please, don’t back out. Believe in your vision, in your passion, in your work.

More and more, I am finding my voice – as you have probably noticed with these regular blog posts. This is something I want to continue and I am now collaborating with Morgan Pettersson to create a conservation podcast called Seeding Change. Within this podcast we will be talking about environmental conservation, the natural world and the highs and lows of our own personal adventures within this challenging but highly rewarding industry.

Although I’m nervous, I’m also so excited because this is a topic I am very passionate about and it’s something I wish we all talked about more.

Our first two episodes are available on the links below and our third episode will be available on Friday.

Apple Podcasts:



On Friday’s episode we will be talking all about TREES and their importance in this world. With Morgan’s reforestation experience this is going to be a very interesting conversation! Forests and their amazing role on Earth are often vastly undervalued so we are looking forward to sharing episode 3 with you all. Particularly, with all the news regarding this years forest fires.

This is a journey and I hope you join us for it.

Tread lightly on this Earth,

Coexistwithmeg ♥
Megan Richards

Snake Encounters in South Africa

Over the years of living in South African game reserves, I have had a lot of snake encounters with various species including Mozambique Spitting Cobras, Black Mambas, Puff Adders, Rhombic Egg Eaters, Spotted Bush Snakes and African Rock Python. 

I wanted to share a different side to my adventures today so here’s 3 of my favourite snake encounter stories: 

1) Mozambique Spitting Cobra.

This story always comes to mind because the situation resolved itself with surprising ease. I was outside with rhino orphan Ithuba and fellow carers Aly and Axel when we noticed something moving along the wall towards us and towards the rhino night room. As the sun was beginning to set we needed to keep a close eye on the snake to make sure it did not go into any of the care or preparation rooms. We sent a photo of the snake to a ranger and received immediate identification that the snake was a Mozambique Spitting Cobra (very dangerous).

As we weren’t in a position to remove the snake safely ourselves and we lived in isolation in the middle of a reserve getting someone to help us would’ve been a time-consuming process, we decided instead to simply block the snakes path, keep our distance and hope the Cobra would turn around and go back into the bush. It was a simple plan but our options were pretty limited and we were hopeful. We kept our distance while trying to keep a constant eye on the snake. The other thing we needed to do was keep ever-curious white rhino calf Ithuba away from the snake too. This was challenging as Ithuba knew there was something going on and wanted to take a closer look himself. Fortunately, after a bit of a tussle we managed to convince him to play with his favourite tyre bowl at the other side of the enclosure while we waited for the cobra to decide where it wanted to go.

Thankfully, upon meeting our blockade, the snake changed direction and began to pick its way back towards the bush. It was in no rush but gradually we watched it slither across the length of the outside enclosure, out between the slats of the enclosure poles and towards the bush. Satisfied the Mozambique Spitting Cobra was not in or near the night room we finished the evenings games with Ithuba, got sorted for nightshift and locked up. Of course, I was still VERY aware of the possibilities of snakes, spiders and scorpions as I slept on the floor in the preparation room or under the heat lamp with the rhino orphans. 

(I don’t have a picture of the Mozambique Spitting Cobra so here’s a Rhombic Egg Eater instead)

2) Puff Adder relocation.

This was a pretty fun one. It was a really quiet day and while I was sitting in the office I heard one of our staff members screaming my name (bordering on hysterical). Not sure what the problem was I rushed outside to check everything was okay. I was met with two of our team screeching with terror and pointing towards the grass next to the car. Laying there, completely still, was a Puff Adder (very dangerous). There’s a lot of fear of snakes within the communities so I wasn’t at all surprised by the shouting, snakes are often killed on sight so I was very relieved they had kept their distance and shouted me instead of trying to kill the snake.

As Puff Adders are very dangerous and we had several people and animals living on the property I said we would carefully move it away from the orphanage. I closed our dog inside, grabbed the snake tongs and enlisted the help of Vikki (because there was no way I was doing this on my own and Viks had worked previously as a ranger). The main issue was that we couldn’t find a suitable container to use to put the snake in so we agreed on using the large, plastic bin that we used in the kitchen as the ‘transport crate’. Getting the Puff Adder into the bin was easy using the snake tongs and after we showed our team (who were now a lot less hysterical) the Puff Adder and gave them a bit of information about the species we carefully put the bin onto the back of the truck ready to drive far from the orphanage to release the snake.

Now, we had a decision to make. Although, it was more of a ‘rock, paper, scissors’ situation that Viks lost. That meant it was Viks job to sit at the back of the truck holding the bin upright and ensuring the lid of the bin stayed in place as I slowly drove us across the reserve. Despite driving slowly, the road was incredibly bumpy so I watched the rear view mirror tentatively as I picked my way across the reserve. We reached a spot that was far enough away without any issues and chose an area that seemed suitable to release the snake. The car slowly rolled to a stop and I jumped out to help Viks with the bin. We removed the lid and gently laid the bin down, letting the the Puff Adder go. We sat on the back of the truck as we watched the snake for a few minutes then we made our way back to the orphanage. Happy everyone was safe and the snake could continue on, unharmed.

3) African Rock Python sighting.

The third is a wildlife sighting that blew my mind. Angie and I were on a road trip and we made our way to Kruger National Park, after some careful thought we decided to stick to the more northern areas of the park. We’d been told we wouldn’t see as much wildlife in those areas but we liked the fact that there’s very few other people around and the idea that we’d have to work extra hard to spot wildlife. We stuck to our original idea and entered Kruger through one of the gates in the North region and see how we got on.

I’m not kidding, we’d been in the park for 10 minutes and OUR FIRST SIGHTING was an African Rock Python eating a duiker. WHAT. It was insane, we couldn’t believe it!!! We sat there absolutely fascinated, no other cars around, in fact we only saw one or two other cars in the whole day. This was the first time I’d seen a snake in the bush like this, the Rock Python was huge! The whole scenario was just unreal. As you can imagine, that started our day in a magnificent way and we went on to have all sorts of wonderful sightings including elephants, leopards and even a honey badger!

I hope you enjoyed reading these snake stories!

Tread lightly on this Earth,

Coexistwithmeg ♥
Megan Richards

For information on snake species within Africa head over to:

Reconnect With Nature

Spending time in wildlife reserves is so good for the soul. It allows us the opportunity to reconnect with nature, to catch a glimpse into a wild world we have become so far removed from. It’s an opportunity to quiet your mind. When you’re in nature nothing is guaranteed and nothing is expected. It’s energizing, from the moment you enter a reserve there’s excitement in the air… You keep a look out for any signs of wildlife, looking for fresh tracks along the dusty paths and listening for the calls of wild animals.

There is so much to see. So many directions to venture in. You are surrounded by the beauty of the wilderness and I’m not sure there is anything in life that beats that feeling. Nature is home and sometimes we have to go back to it to realise how vital it is.

I’ve spent a lot of time living in reserves and sometimes it’s nice to take a step back and enjoy the amazing wildlife that share this place we call home. Today I wanted to post some of my favourite photos from past adventures. There’s so much beauty on this planet, there is so much still to save. I know that sometimes news stories are very doom and gloom so todays post is just a little bit of beauty to remind you that there is still so much to fight for.

Spending time in nature is important, a lot of us are disconnected, not only from nature but also from the impact we have on nature in our day to day lives. Everything we do has an impact on the world around us and the natural world needs us to make changes. We need to step up and make better decisions, we need to be more conscious of our choices and know that we can have a positive impact on the planet by making small changes. We live in a time when we can still turn this around so please, tread lightly on this Earth and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us.

If you get the opportunity to visit a nature reserve or national park… Please do! You won’t regret it.

Tread lightly on this Earth,

Coexistwithmeg ♥
Megan Richards

Experiencing Life Through Conservation

Experiencing life through conservation is beautiful and inspiring but it is also challenging. In the past 6 years I have made the most amazing memories, met the most passionate people and lived surrounded by so much wild, natural beauty. Sometimes it seems so strange to think that I’ve spent nights sleeping side by side with baby rhinos or months with a baby elephant essentially glued to my side. To live with wildlife, build bonds with them and experience the beauty of the wilderness is such a privilege … I’ve truly found myself in nature and it’s been such a magnificent journey but it has not been without its challenges. It is all too easy to paint working in conservation in a romantic way, the reality is that it’s tough. It’s hard work, it can be lonely, it’s even dangerous at times… There’s so many aspects to working in conservation. It’s not all smiles and selfies. It’s stress, heartbreak and for way too many conservationists… its burn out. I love sharing the highlights with you but the reality is that there are hard times too.

Working within conservation means being exposed to mans astonishing disconnect to nature, it means seeing first-hand the impact of the greed and selfish capabilities of our own species. It’s working around the clock and living far from family and friends. At times it can be difficult to feel optimistic or positive, it can feel like the heavy weight of all of this is pressing down on your shoulders as you ask yourself if you are doing enough to make a difference.

The struggle is real so if you are feeling this pressure right now I want you to know that you are enough, you are appreciated and you are not alone. Step back and look at how far you’ve come, all you have achieved and the positive impact you are having. Know that you have a positive influence that reaches further than you will ever truly realise. Be proud of every step you have taken on this journey, be proud of your bravery, of your fearless pursuit of your passion. Look at the amazing things you’ve experienced, the connections you have made and the memories you’ll always remember. Take time to look after yourself… Eat well, read books about things you love, be active and be kind to yourself. Know that caring for yourself is not selfish, it is essential. For you to continue to have a positive impact in this world you need to take care of yourself. You need to make yourself a priority.

Sometimes working in conservation is challenging but don’t let the hard times allow you to forget the great times. This journey is filled with ups and downs. It’s a whirlwind, a rollercoaster. It’s something that can be so difficult to explain to people who haven’t lived it too. Celebrate the wins and know that you are doing amazing things. I believe in you, in your passion, in your vision. I’m proud of you and you should be proud of yourself too.

Tread lightly on this Earth,

Coexistwithmeg ♥
Megan Richards

Have You Ever Been in Danger?

I recently did a talk about my conservation journey and raising rhino orphans. After the talk a lady in the audience asked, “Have you ever been in danger…” I immediately thought ‘yes’ but as she continued her question, my answer changed “… as rhinos are so big and powerful, does working closely with them put you in danger?”

I said…

“That’s a great question. Rhinos are very strong and definitely have the ability to cause us harm if they feel it is necessary, for example to defend themselves, but I never felt like I was in danger while working with them. They are generally very gentle and tend to know our limits, especially when you’ve spent time with them and built that bond.

Although I have been nudged and stood on and knocked into the air a few times and ended up with some scrapes and bruises it was never the intention of the rhino to hurt me. To be honest, most of the ‘run-ins’ I had with the rhino orphans have been hunger-related… You know, in the wild they’d nudge their even bigger, even stronger mums when they are hungry but when they nudge us mere humans to tell us they are hungry it’s quite a bit more than a little nudge. That’s the only thing I can think of but it was never really danger.

However, there is another side to your question because when you asked if I had been in danger the first thing that came to my mind was poachers. So, yes, I have been in danger while at the orphanages but not because of the rhinos, because of poachers. The most afraid and at risk I feel I have been has been a result of the potential of poachers coming to attack the orphans for their small horns. There have been times we’ve been told we need to be on high alert because of intel that poachers are targeting us so for me when I think of being in danger it’s the humans that worry me, not the rhinos.”

Rhino sedated for dehorning procedure

Tread lightly on this Earth,

Coexistwithmeg ♥
Megan Richards

Raising Stripes

When Georgina was standing up her head was at about hip height and she was growing quickly. She’d nuzzle her velvety nose into my legs when she was hungry and if it wasn’t quite feeding time yet she’d let out a delicate sigh that held within it a soft high-pitched murmur.

Last week I shared a video of zebra Georgina waiting for her milk feed, yesterday I found an old, dog-eared book of stories I’d noted down and I’d written a few about Georgina. As they made me smile I wanted to share them with you, enjoy!  

The first couple of days I spent with Georgie I was trying to win her trust and build a bond with her. Around a week or so before I arrived, the young zebra had followed rangers back to the staff camp and pretty much demanded she be rescued and cared for. As she was still young, she wouldn’t have survived alone in the wild and still needed to be drinking milk.

As Georgie had already been receiving care she had a handful of people that she trusted. This meant when I first arrived she would walk with me and act as if we were best friends but the second she clocked anyone who had been involved in her care she’d drop me like a hot potato and head straight in their direction. When this happened, I became some kind of weird zebra stalker. If Georgina saw someone who had helped look after her and they went into a room or office then she would just stand outside the door patiently awaiting their return and I had no choice but to awkwardly lurk with her. It was awful!! So, I quickly learnt that if I could get her a few steps away from the door she’d start following me again and we could continue our day.

One day it finally clicked and the young zebra realized she was stuck with me. From there, our relationship blossomed. When Georgina was standing up her head was at about hip height and she was growing quickly. She’d nuzzle her velvety nose into my legs when she was hungry and if it wasn’t quite feeding time yet she’d let out a delicate sigh that held within it a soft high-pitched murmur.

Georgina loved feeding time and as she was now my shadow she’d stand with me in the preparation room while I mixed the milk. However, sometimes the stripy fiend would get impatient and start pulling whatever she could get her teeth into down to the ground. The cloths, milk containers, plastic placemats… whatever she could reach, would be pulled onto the floor. If she was being naughty like this I’d end up moving her outside so I could mix the milk in peace. With that, she’d stand at the door, staring in at me – very unimpressed by my audacity. She might have had a very cute face but don’t be deceived, she could be very naughty when she wanted to be!!

After feeding time, Georgina would find a comfortable spot on the grass to lay down for a while. As she couldn’t be left alone, I’d sit by her side and read books while she slept. After a snooze, we’d head into the bush for a walk. Walks were my favourite part of the day and we’d spend spent a lot of time adventuring through the trees, walking along dirt paths forged by wildlife. Every now and then I’d break into a sprint to test Georgina’s speed and stamina, she’d have to be able to run when she goes back into the wild after all!

When we’d run, Georgina would push her front shoulder against me and kick back to defend herself against predators. Of course, once Georgina realized she could (very easily) outrun me and leave me for the predators she was off like a bullet leaving me in the dust. Fortunately, we were never chased by predators so Georgina never had the opportunity of actually leaving me for dead.  

A big bonus of caring for Georgina was that she was more than happy to spend the nights in the company of the anti-poaching horses. This meant I could sleep in the comfort of my bed and wake up every few hours to feed her. This was a welcome change from sleeping on the floor or on camping stretchers! Some mornings when I’d go to let Georgie out the fur on her back would be damp and distorted from the horses licking and grooming her at night. It was very sweet!!

Caring for Georgie was an amazing experience. She was sweet, gentle and mischievous. I spent all day, every day with her and we went on many adventures together. A few days before my 21st birthday rhino orphan Nkonzo was brought to Rhino Revolution which meant I had less time to spend with Georgie but fortunately the mounted APU volunteers were happy to help with Georgina’s care too. As we would take Nkonzo on bush walks, Georgie would often accompany us and it was incredible. With a rhino and zebra in tow, we’d go walking around the African bush.  

The Rhino Revolution team with Nkonzo and Georgina

Once Georgina was old enough she was introduced to another female zebra and when they were ready, the two of them were released together!

Tread lightly on this Earth,

Coexistwithmeg ♥
Megan Richards

Rhino Orphans – Wild & Free

Rehabilitating rhino calves has been a huge part of my conservation life. I have spent countless hours working with orphaned rhinos who have been left traumatized by poaching and the loss of their mother. I’ve had sleepless nights trying to bond with new arrivals, encouraging them to drink much needed milk or trying to settle them down as they pace and call for their mum. I’ve cried behind closed doors about the sad situation and the stark realities. I’ve had nights filled with fear due to high alerts of poacher activity. I’ve driven through the night to rescue orphans and bring them back to the orphanage. It’s been a long, tough road but earlier this year I was able to experience something amazing that showed our efforts were never in vain.

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On Saturday morning I met with Alyson, who I worked alongside at Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage back in 2015, and we drove to a beautiful game reserve in KZN. Our hope for the day was to see Ithuba, Thando and Storm in the wild.

To give you some backstory: Ithuba was the first rhino calf to be brought to the Thula orphanage; he was playful, gentle and cheeky. For a while, he was our only rhino and we cared for him around the clock; keeping him company, playing and feeding him a special milk formula every three hours. He was only around 5 months old when he was rescued and he needed 24/7 care; he hated the sound of rain on the roof of his room, he panicked when it was full moon and he had spent close to a week trying to survive in the wild without his mum. Then Thando arrived and something interesting happened… Ithuba and Thando had this instant connection. They were so entranced by each other and were desperate to be together, so much so that we thought they maybe actually knew each other. They had both been rescued from the same reserve but after we did the maths, they couldn’t have met as Thando was too young to have known Ithuba before the poaching incident. Despite this, the pair were drawn to each other. Whether there was something they sensed, something familiar about each other, we do not know but what we did know was that they were desperate to be together. Once Thando was big and strong enough we introduced them and they have been inseparable ever since.

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Storm is a black rhino and he was rescued in the middle of the night, the weather was so bad (hence his name) that we needed to rescue him and get him back to the orphanage otherwise it was unlikely he’d have survived the night in the wild. Storm was very vulnerable and his rehabilitation journey was incredibly rocky, there were times when he was so unwell that we worried he would not survive. When we hit a breakthrough and Storm started to gain weight, roll in the wallow and play we knew he was going to pull through.

Ever since the early days of raising a very young Ithuba, Aly and I used to talk about going to see him in the wild one day. It was something we had always wanted to experience and in 2019, it was finally happening.

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As we entered the gates of the reserve we were so excited at the possibility of seeing the orphans, at the same time we knew there was a chance that we would not see them. After all, they are wild and anybody who has been on a game drive knows there is never any guarantee of seeing wildlife. We hoped that we would be lucky on this day.

Grinning from ear to ear, we climbed into an open game viewer and the search began. During this drive we saw lots of incredible wildlife including a magnificent pride of lions on the banks of a dam but we had yet to see rhinos. As we drove along the weaving roads, the one thing on my mind were the rhinos Aly and I had come to know so intimately, who were now living somewhere on this protected reserve. We slowly covered the area where Ithuba and Thando were last spotted but there was no sign of them. “Come on, where are you ‘Thubes?” I thought again and again as we searched. As there were no signs of the pair, we had to continue the drive and leave the area the two white rhinos were most likely in. We were disappointed but we always knew this could happen, as we drove away Aly and I tried desperately to search for them but to no avail. We left the area, now turning our attention to looking for black rhino storm.

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We used the telemetry to track him and as we sat where the signal was strongest and waited, he emerged out of the bush. I could hear the branches breaking before I saw Storm, he was getting closer and closer. As he stepped into view I was so overwhelmed by the joy of seeing him that I began to well up. My eyes filled with tears and my heart burst with pride as this black rhino I had helped raise appeared out of the bushes. Despite all of my adventures in the bush, I have only ever seen black rhino in the wild twice and one of those was seeing Storm. He looked so well. He had grown a lot since I had last seen him and he seemed to be coping with life in the wild.

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Storm on day of rescue

As I watched him happily eating I thought about how small he was when we went to rescue him and all of the issues we had faced. I thought of the hard times and the special moments of sitting under the heat lamp with him and feeding times. All of the memories of him as a tiny baby black rhino flooded back as I watched him, now big and thriving in the wild. To see him, even for a few minutes, left my heart feeling so full. The tears flowed freely, tears of absolute joy. Everything we had put into the orphanage, it was all worth it.

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As the sun was setting, we began to make our way back to camp. Although we had not seen Ithuba and Thando, we had an amazing experience with Storm so all in all the drive was a success. Then, to our absolute delight we heard that the boys had been spotted. As I wiped away the tears from the Storm sighting, Aly and I exchanged excited glances as we may see Ithuba and Thando after all. We looked around, keeping our eyes peeled and then we suddenly caught a glimpse of two very healthy looking white rhino bums as they disappeared off into the bush. It was Ithuba and Thando. Still sticking together after all these years. They were so big now and they looked to be in great condition. Although we hadn’t seen them for long, to catch a glimpse of them against the backdrop of the setting sun was incredible.

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These rhinos, they live in the wild. If you were to see them you wouldn’t know they were raised in a rhino orphanage because now they live as they always should have. That is, and always has been, the goal.  Rescue, rehabilitate, release. To see these orphans, who’s stories and personalities dominated a part of my life, now living in the wild was a true honor. I am so grateful to have been able to visit the reserve where they now live and to have been lucky enough to actually see them. All of our hard work has well and truly paid off…

Thank you. To everyone who has supported rhino orphanages, to everyone involved in the rehabilitation of these amazing animals, to the team who now protect and keep a close eye on these wild rhinos… Thank you.

Tread lightly on this Earth,

Coexistwithmeg ♥
Megan Richards

Searching for Snares with Silent Wildlife Heroes

Working with rhinos and rhino orphans has meant a lot of my work has been surrounded by anti-poaching rangers. You don’t often see the rangers but you know they are around, you know they are out there patrolling and being a protective force… A line of defence. The work that these rangers do is underestimated by many. They walk for hours on end, they work in difficult, stressful situations under very challenging circumstances, they go for long periods of time without seeing family, they put themselves between poachers and wildlife…

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I’ve worked alongside these amazing individuals who give their lives to protect wildlife. I’ve been to poaching scenes, I’ve seen their heartbreak when a rhino loses its life. I’ve seen their commitment, their pride, their passion…

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I cannot speak for the anti-poaching rangers but I can share some of my experiences with you. While working at a rhino orphanage, I was invited to go on a snare sweep one afternoon with the anti-poaching unit at the reserve. Before I had worked with wildlife in South Africa I did not realize that snares were still extensively used by bush meat poachers. Unfortunately, they are and anti-poaching rangers are frequently pulling snares out of the bush in an effort to protect wildlife. Getting ready to head out in search of snares, I pulled on my boots and went with the rangers down to one of the dams. Before setting off, the rangers taught me a bit about tracks, signs of poacher activity to look out for and how snares are set…  We began patrolling an area close to a dam – snares are often set on game paths in the bush around dams because there is a lot of animal activity (the animals are coming to the water source to drink). We used hand signals to minimize talking on our patrol as there was a chance we would encounter poachers so we needed to work quietly.

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After an hour of walking we found the first snare – it was set up and ready to trap any animal that happened to walk the path. Snares are not species specific, they will trap whatever animal has the misfortune of walking through the deadly wire loop. That could mean tightening around the neck of a hyena, the body of an antelope, the leg or trunk of an elephant… The snare will tighten around whatever animal walks that path. We removed the snare as the rangers explained there will be more snares in this area as the person setting the snares will do a group of them in one area so they can increase their chances of catching something and make it easier to check the snares when they come back into the reserve. Interestingly, they also told me how you can differentiate between the poachers by looking at how they tie and set the snares. Each poacher has their own technique and this is something the anti poaching units pick up on as they gather snare after snare.

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As we silently continued, the ranger in front of me stopped as he pointed down at another snare. This one had been knocked down so was flat on the ground. We removed it and continued. Another few minutes of walking and I spotted something out of the corner of my eye. As I looked again, I saw the wire across the path. It’s amazing how easily a snare could be missed… The snare was across the path ready to catch unsuspecting wildlife. We removed the snare, putting the wire with the other two we had found. Our snare sweep continued as we moved into another area. We had been patrolling for hours now and with a handful of snares we had collected it had been a successful patrol, but we weren’t finished yet. I followed the team across the difficult terrain, by this point I was completely disorientated but they knew exactly where we were.

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As I walked behind team leader Mark, he turned to me with a grin and said, “are your legs tired yet?”. I laughed and said “No, I’m all good.” Which was obviously a lie. He immediately responded with, “Sure Meg, if you’re not tired why aren’t you picking your feet up properly anymore”. He could hear my feet subtly dragging as my legs became tired. Patrolling with these physically fit, highly skilled and well trained protectors was an honour and it gave me just a little glimpse into what they do. As we returned with snares in hand, I proudly showed the team back at the rhino orphanage the success of our patrol. I was thrilled. These rangers are selfless, they are committed, they are truly amazing.

Thank you to the rangers. We see you. We appreciate you.

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Council of Contributors latest project is to improve the Sera Rhino Monitor’s team camp, they spend hours every day tracking the rhino on foot and ensuring they are safe and well. The team camp does not have running water and is very basic, we would like to raise $11,000 to build them showers, toilets, a kitchen and a shaded seating area so when they come off of their long, exhausting patrols they can be more comfortable.


Tread lightly on this Earth,

Coexistwithmeg ♥
Megan Richards

Getting Perspective in Mozambique

I hadn’t been to Mozambique before this trip to help the elephant calf, after all the years I’d spent in South Africa you’d think I’d cross the border at least once but as time snowballs and there’s always something else to do I’d never made the trip. I’d heard many a fond word spoken of Mozambique, of the beautiful shorelines and friendly people, so much so that I didn’t feel in any way apprehensive as I made my way to a country I had never been to work with a team I hadn’t met. As it turned out, the team I worked with were some of the most genuine, passionate and down to earth people I have had the pleasure of crossing paths with.

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 18.43.46.pngIn my last week before heading to South Africa I was invited to join Conservation Manager and Fixed Wing Pilot Brian on an early morning patrol. He was picking me up just after 6am and told me to dress warmly. When I got up that morning, I already knew my only pair of jeans weren’t going to be dry from being washed the previous afternoon but I did honestly consider putting them on regardless. When I felt the damp, icy cold material against my warm skin I immediately changed my mind, instead opting for thin dark leggings that were definitely not created for warmth. As I pulled on a jacket, I made myself a coffee in the camp kitchen while waiting for Brian to arrive. Everyone else in camp was still waking up so I enjoyed the quiet and darkness as I sipped my coffee. I heard the rumbling engine of the approaching vehicle long before I saw the headlights through the trees.

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 18.57.51.pngAs I climbed into the passenger seat with a grin, Brian asked if I’d had coffee and whether I’d be warm enough. I nodded to both, not willing to admit my jeans were still damp and that this was my only outfit option. I was so excited to be going on an air patrol and to have this opportunity to see more the reserve, I’d previously only seen such a small yet breathtakingly beautiful fraction of the park. As we drove out of the camp and along the sand roads towards the airstrip the extent of the morning fog became clear. It was so thick and dense that we would have to wait for the sun to burn through it before we could take off.Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 17.50.12.png

Once at the hangar, Brian did all of his checks and preparations for the flight while I watched the sun rise and waited for the vast blanket of white to lift. The thick morning dew clung to the grass in tight, perfect beads that made my shoes damp as I walked. After 20 minutes of listening to the birdsong and watching the fog gradually lift, we could get going.

I climbed into the two seater, door-less, savannah airplane and buckled my seatbelt. Brian handed me a camera to take photos from the sky and then he started flicking switches and reading displays, readying for the patrol.

We pulled on the headsets, made sure we could both hear each other and then we were ready to go. We slowly rolled to one end of the runway before turning ready for the take off. I stared out as we picked up speed and lifted into the air, passing over the fence that keeps wildlife off the airstrip.

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I watched as the world took on a whole new visual and the scenery opened out in front of me. The area I had spent all of my time in since arriving in the park was now reduced to just a minor piece of the puzzle, like an autumn leaf that has fallen from the tree. Nothing could wipe the smile from my face and the gratitude from my heart.

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The cold morning air that whipped through the plane did not bother me because I was so in awe of the view. Our first wildlife sighting from the sky was at least 15 hippos lazing on the banks of a watering hole. The views were endless and breathtaking – the deep green of tall, dense swamp and mangrove forests gave way to expansive savannahs scattered with dusty paths naturally worn in by wildlife, the grasslands were broken up by watering holes and split by the smooth curves of streams flowing swiftly across the landscape.

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We continued as we passed over another dense forest, only this time the forests were flanked by the pristine coastline. The crystal clear ocean kissed the sands and I felt as though I was in heaven. Having always been a lover of the ocean to see the vibrant blues of the water, the white wash of the waves, the band of golden sand and the vegetation that lay beyond it from the sky was nothing short of spectacular. The ocean looked like a watercolour I could only ever dream of painting.

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To my absolute delight, we flew along the waters edge. Looking down under us I saw a turtle swimming through the transparent water. I cannot tell you the last time I saw a turtle, I was ecstatic. Part of me wanted to stay here, suspended in the air watching the world go by. To stay and watch the turtle go about its day and see if any dolphins or whales pass by. We continued on our patrol, carrying on along the coast until we reached the parks boundary where we banked right.

We preceded to fly over Mozambique’s second largest lake – approximately 27 square kilometers in size.  There were a handful of wooden fisherman boats along one of the banks and a pair of fisherman out on the lake, completely dwarfed by its sheer size.

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As we continued along, I saw ripples in the distance. It was too far away to see the cause but as I looked through the zoom lens of the camera I saw two hippos, mouths open facing each other and another hippo further back with its head poked out of the water looking on at the tussling pair from a safe distance.

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The lake gave way to thick forest and we began to head back in the direction of the airstrip, now picking our way along grassy plains. We passed over a flock of over 200 Great White Pelicans who were all sitting on a small body of water surrounded by long grass, oh and not forgetting the yellowbilled stork who stood in the same patch of water with its long pink legs, white body feathers, black tail feathers, red face and large yellow bill.

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Our journey continued, as did the abundance of wildlife. We saw a small herd of zebra and then in the distance… a herd of elephant, made up of around 30 individuals including small calves. Even the herd looked dwarfed thanks to the expanse of the grasslands. As we closed the gap between us, the baby elephants were more visible as they stood close to their mothers sides. The elephants continued about their day, walking across the grasslands staying together and keeping the tiny youngsters close by. It was an amazing sighting.

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Among other wildlife, we saw wildebeest, buffalo, waterbuck, giraffe, crocodiles, a lot more hippos and more elephants before arriving back at the airstrip. How I had imagined that flight to be didn’t even come close to the reality, it was so much more.

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The reserve is breathtaking, abundant and wild. Rich in biodiversity and ecosystems. It is without a doubt one of the most divine experiences I have had. To fly over Maputo Special Reserve is an honor I will never forget.

Tread lightly on this Earth,

Coexistwithmeg ♥
Megan Richards