Day 11 [Britt’s Thoughts]

Hello hello! It is now 6:52pm here on June 21st in South Africa. We have been here a total of 11 days now and have about 6 more to go. Time really does fly. It’s funny, the anticipation for a trip is always more of a rollercoaster than the actual trip itself. I should know this by now and yet I continue to get on and ride that coaster before every travel of mine…

Anyway, South Africa is absolutely beautiful. It has the best sunsets of any place I have ever been and the clouds here are constantly on the move. One minute there are none and the next they’re dancing around competing with each other for the sun’s attention.

The weather has remained consistently cold and the first three days we arrived it was super cloudy. We didn’t even know half of the beautiful geology around us existed. We are surrounded by views such as Table Mountain, Signal Hill, the 12 Apostle Mountains, and so many others. Not to mention the ocean with waves that seem to come whenever and how often they want. There is nothing predictable about the weather here – but it’s quite nice overall.

The wifi situation is a bit challenging. We found a really nice gym across the street that we go on most nights after working at the Cheetah Outreach. It has wifi as well as one of our favorite coffee shops… But even then it isn’t always reliable. Right now I just finished a nice workout and I wanted to share some of the amazing pictures we have gathered so far. Before I do I want to share a few things I have learned…

  1. Not being able to connect to social media and wifi constantly is actually quite refreshing. At first it was unnerving, but I think I might take back some of this “social media” downtime back home with me.
  2. Reading books before bed is actually really nice.
  3. My ideas for Why Should You Care are valuable according to many people I have met while in South Africa. This is good to know that people in other countries have experienced the same concerns about conservation science communication that I have. And that some are even interested in following this very website.
  4. I still have yet to figure out if I will ever be able to turn my research ideas into a living, but what I have discovered is that I love helping people. I have always known that I have, but I really enjoy providing an extra service to their cause – one that they might not otherwise have the time to carry out themselves. And to a cause that I feel passionate about as well. Perhaps this will be more of a “serving” type ambition of mine. I want to be God’s hands as best as I can and maybe my place of serving is in protecting wildlife through providing those that do so everyday – the extra assistance they need – and maybe even pray for… There is still a lot of time to tell – but either way I have enjoyed doing it so far.
  5. I have always known that non-profits are tight on staff and budgets, but not until learning first hand from the manager of Cheetah Outreach did I really understand many of the other complexities. Looking for funding is one challenge, but doing this in a field where ideas, rules, and legalities continually change is another. Especially in South Africa.
  6. I could go on, but I will wrap it up with this… South Africa is in need of a lot of encouragement and uplifting from what I have seen. This place is beautiful, it has some of the world’s most amazing wildlife, and is worth fighting for. The people, however, (not all of them) but a majority are in need of a leader. Someone to give them something worth working and fighting for. It would seem you’re either really high or really low here. And you literally drive through all of it from one end of the N to the other. (The N is the “freeway” here as we would call it at home.)

In regards to how my research is going, I am hoping I get a good amount of responses to my Cheetah Outreach survey – but even if I don’t-  I have learned new ways to do so that I can use next time around – wherever that may be. In the mean time, they have found both Jake and I very useful in helping them produce other materials they are in need of – but don’t have the tools or time necessarily to produce.

For example, many of their videos they show to the public are out of date and Jake quickly went to work getting footage to create new ones with. I also am creating new brochures for them that they give out to each of the visitors to the Cheetah Outreach as well as at the big fundraisers they put on. They have also asked me to partner with their Education Program to provide more written tools to communicate with both the youth of South Africa and visitors to the center. So overall, we are helping them – and that was the goal. And getting to hang out and teach others about some amazing wildlife in the process. I am going to miss hanging out with the cheetahs everyday.

Tomorrow we are meeting with Deon Cilliers, one of the lead researchers who we met at the Steve Irwin Gala in LA last year… The same individual who introduced us to Cheetah Outreach and pointed us in the direction of where we are today. We are going to discuss visiting a local farmer who has benefitted from the Cheetah Outreach’s Anatolian Guard Dog program.  We are hoping to get some first-hand insights into life on a South African farm and how the beautiful dogs have helped him protect his livestock – and reduced predator interaction on his farm.

So with that said – lets look at some pictures! There are several different sets of slideshow images.. scroll through each set to see more photos. Also, there are some mosaics. For some reason it wouldn’t let me post all in slideshow so look on a big computer screen! I have more to share but wifi is short here so enjoy!

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